“Hello, Can you hear me?
I’m in Wellington Hospital dreaming about how life used to be
Just weeks ago I was in Hawke’s Bay feeling young and fit and free,
I’ve forgotten how it felt before the world fell out from under me..”
(Sorry, Adele, Please don’t sue!)
Shortly after you last you heard from me, I was flown down to Wellington Hospital by Hawke’s Bay Air Ambulance for the next stage of my “Adventures in Tachycardia”.
The flight was very nice, with calm weather and we enjoyed magnificent views of Hawke’s Bay, the Central Plateau volcanoes, Wairarapa, Kapati Coast and Wellington. We could even see the dark, almost-equilateral triangle of Mount Taranaki on the opposite coast to our own.
It added further levels of perspective and scale to what were massive personal issues.
A similar course of events to what happened in HBCCU ensued over a day or two, culminating in the scheduled MRI scan which revealed….. Not a lot more than we already knew:
There is a growth on / as part of the wall of my heart on the left ventricle, but they were still unable to tell what it is.
The next step was to get a biopsy, but there are issues there too:
(Please note, the following descriptions are what I have gleaned from information available to me and reflect only my interpretations of said options)
To get an internal biopsy, they could go in through the femoral artery in my leg and up to my heart and take a tissue sample that way BUT, as I’m 6’8″ tall, the distance from my groin to my heart (via artery – don’t be smutty!) is a VERY long way.
The longer the wire, the less control you can have guiding it to take a small tissue sample and, as the left ventricle looks after your extremities (fingers, toes, etc.) there is a lot of pressure in there, which makes maneuvering even tougher and increases the chances of hitting / scraping the inner walls of the heart (not recommended at all) or missing the growth completely.
Making a small incision between a couple of my ribs and doing explorative key-hole-type surgery. More invasive than going through an artery, but a far shorter distance.
Even from this direction, the growth is still quite tricky to get to (a lung and some other stuff in the way) so they’d still be going in reasonably blind.
Open-heart surgery – Crack me open like an Easter egg.
Obviously this way is massively invasive and pretty over the top action for a small biopsy.
While they had me open, they might as well remove the growth, but not knowing fully what it is, its structural make-up, or just how it is interacting with the heart is far too risky.
It takes about three months for your ribs to heal from this sort of procedure, so recovery time would interfere with any further treatment and vice versa.
But before any of that, they devised on more option:
During an MRI scan they inject you with a dye / “Contrast” which helps show up different things like blood flow. The growth showed up more when this contrast was added.
Put me through a full-body “PET” scan, inject me with the contrast that the growth showed up on (or similar) and hope there is another growth somewhere on me that lights up in the same way, but is far easier to get to and take a biopsy of that!
I’m starting to feel like an episode of “House”.
In the meantime I’m still an enigma.
Surrounding these occasions of high tech medical marvelry are long periods of bugger all.
Doing absolutely nothing can be horrifically exhausting.
But there are highlights.
As has been said, there are patients here far worse off than me who need stents, multiple bypasses, valves and pacemakers. Due to their issues being more blood-flow related, for their own safety they are not allowed to leave the ward.
While still monitored 24/7, I’m allowed a bit of a longer leash and can go for a wander down to the hospital atrium / cafeteria / shop and have even been for a a wander outside into Newtown, but only within 500 meters of the hospital because, while it hasn’t returned in two weeks, there’s still a chance that the VT could return and drop me there and then.
No one wants to play medical chicken.
When not on one of my brief “free range” breaks social media has not only helped keep me insane, but has been an invaluable window to the outside world (watching or reading mainstream news and media at the moment is enough to tip you over the edge..).
I’ve been very thankful for visitors, too.
My wife came down for three days last week (Toddler in Frame remained at home – the logistics and demands of bringing her down were a little too much under the circumstances and, being so young, isn’t too keen on hospitals in any case).
I have a number of Wellington Twitter friends and some of them have been to visit too, bringing supplies (PIZZA!) and even loaning me some tech to help do some writing (hence this update). So thanks, Laurie and Annette!
I’ve even had workmates, who were in Wellington to see the Te Papa Dreamworks and World War One exhibits pop in to visit, which is very nice and shows that my work still cares.
But I have to give special thanks to my old school friend Lisa and her family.
Lisa lives just up the road from the hospital and has been wonderfully supportive, helpful and gave Mrs in Frame somewhere to stay while she was here.
So here I am – still in a holding pattern, but grateful for the help and care I am receiving.
The big question is, when they do eventually figure out what it is is that growing on my heart, “What’s next?”