Friday, June 18, 2010
A Light at the End of a Long, Dark Tunnel - Hopefully It's Not An Oncoming Train
Woo Hoo! Grams is thrilled to report that Grandad is out of the hospital. He was released late Thursday afternoon. We are resting today at Nick's house in Houston and will return to CC tomorrow.
The procedure that Grandad had is cardiac ablation. He did not have his heart "shocked." That was one of the options that was available, but the doctors felt that it would only be a temporary solution for him.
I'm going to attempt to explain the procedure that he had. This is a summary of what I have learned from the cardiologists, the electrophysiologists , and my own research.
Normally, electricity flows throughout the heart in a regular, measured pattern. This normally operating electrical system is the basis for heart muscle contractions.
Grandad's electrical flow was having a "short circuit" that disturbed his normal heart rhythm. They tried to control this with medication. Medicine did not work. His doctors felt that the most effective treatment would be to destroy the tissue housing the short circuit. This procedure is called cardiac ablation.
He had catheters inserted through both sides of the groin into his blood vessels. The wires were wound up into the heart.
Once the catheters reached the heart, electrodes at the tip of the catheters gathered data and a variety of electrical measurements were made. The data pinpointed the location of the faulty electrical site.
Fortunately, Grandad was having an "episode" of heart flutter and atrial fibrillation during the procedure. This made it possible for the electrophysiologist to see exactly what his heart was doing. Once the damaged site was confirmed, energy was used to destroy a small amount of tissue, ending the disturbance of electrical flow through the heart and restoring a healthy heart rhythm.
The doctor reported that they had to make an unusually large amount of "cuts" in his heart to correct the short circuit. The procedure took slightly more than five hours. Because of the large amount of cuts, he has a small collection of fluid in his chest which is causing him some pain. They've given him some medication to help his body get rid of that fluid.
He will take medication to regulate his heartbeat and keep his blood thin for the next six months. They expect to be able to start weening him off of the drugs at the end of the first three months.
I would like to thank all the folks at St. Lukes Hospital and The Texas Heart Institute in Houston. It is an amazing place where miracles happen. Every single employee I encountered there was happy and helpful. During the long wait which totaled about eight hours from start to finish, someone from the procedure room called me every two hours and gave me an update on exactly what was going on and how much longer they expected it to take. I can't begin to explain how much easier that made the wait. They even called me at 11:30 and said it was going to be at least two more hours that we should go get some lunch and they would update us when we returned. That went so far to help my peace of mind.
We are very hopeful that this procedure has put Grandad back on the road to health. Thank you all so much for holding us close in your prayers. It has been a long, hard journey. Finally, we can see a light at the end of this long, dark tunnel. Hopefully, it's not an oncoming train!