Angiogram and comedy!

Changing into my disposable gown.

This week I’ve been in hospital again for an angiogram, following on from my MRI I had back in the summer. I had the procedure on Friday, and I was told that it was primarily to investigate my arteries, but that if they found that they might need to insert stents, then they had the option to potentially do that at the same time.

Anyway, I had to be at Wythenshawe hospital for 7.30am – my mum had come up to stay for a couple of days because I wasn’t allowed to drive, and also needed someone to be at home with me for 24 hours after the procedure. A group of us were taken to a ‘day room’ where I had to change into a disposable top which gave them access to stick sensors on my body for an ECG, and I had a cannula inserted in my arm, before signing a consent form for them to proceed if they find anything.

I was a bit apprehensive about having an angiogram – basically you’re given a local anaesthetic, so are awake as they insert a tube into your arm or leg, and move it up towards the heart to put a dye in there and then use an x-ray machine to see live images of the arteries. At this point, they then decide whether to the proceed with angioplasty there and then – this is where they try to open up the arteries and insert a stent, or whether I’d need to then go on a waiting just for a heart bypass operation.

Everyone kept telling me that an angiogram is classed as a pretty routine operation, but I was a bit nervous about it because my dad had the same procedure back in 1996 and the doctor messed it up, going through the wall of the main artery, causing internal bleeding. He was then rushed into surgery and ended up having a quadruple bypass – so that whole situation was at the back of my mind going into it!

I was the first person to be taken into one of the ‘labs’, which is a bit like an operating theatre set up for these kind of procedures, and after lying down, had a plastic sheet put over me, and the x-ray unit moved over my chest. After they’d given me a local anaesthetic for my arm, an incision was made and the tube inserted. I couldn’t see any of this (and didn’t want to!), but I was aware of a slight sensation at my wrist, but nothing painful.

I was in there for about half an hour, and I could occasionally see out of the corner of my eye a large screen with the x-ray image on it, showing a black line running through my arteries. I tried to stay as still as possible – I didn’t want to cause them any problems whilst it was in me, and managed to stay pretty calm.

Compressing the incision.

I was told that my arteries look fine – no blockages or narrowing, which is good news. The doctor who was in the room said that it suggests that I might not have actually had a heart attack, but he could’t say for sure what caused my heart failure – he said could have been a virus or something else – hopefully I’ll discover the next step when I next see my consultant in December, because even though it’s good to find out what didn’t cause it, I’d like to have an idea of what did to try and avoid it happening again!

A compression bracelet was put on my wrist to allow the blood to clot, and I was taken back to the day room where I watched daytime for a couple of hours until the nurse decided I was able to have the bracelet removed and could go home. I was told not to drive for a few days, and avoid using my hand for anything – basically I had to avoid putting any pressure on it that could cause the incision wound to start bleeding.

Mum stayed until Saturday morning, and then drove back home so she could go to a wedding in Tamworth that afternoon. I’d bought a ticket so see Jason Byrne at The Lowry that night (bought way before I knew I’d be having the angiogram!), and because I couldn’t drive, had to get a taxi to East Didsbury tram station, before taking a couple of trams to MediaCity for The Lowry. It was quite straightforward really, although took twice as long as if I’d driven there!

Jason Byrne at The Lowry.

The show was really funny – he does a lot of audience interaction, and there were lots of references to the shows he’d done in Salford in previous years, but it didn’t matter that I’d not been to those. I’m going to be back at The Lowry in a couple of weeks for another comedy gig – this time seeing John Robins, so looking forward to that!

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