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CAM

Re: Pump Head

We were trying to put a bull in a cattle trailer. He chased me out of the corral, over the fence, and I scratched my leg on barbed wire on the way over.

I went to my doctor's office to get a tetanus shot. While there, I noticed my heart rate was high and didn't slow. I told the doctor, and he ordered an ECG. The ECG showed tachycardia and atrial flutter (classic saw-tooth pattern).

He tried to convert the flutter with pressure on the carotid arteries, but that didn't work. Medication (Toprol) did convert the flutter.

The doctor ordered a heart echo. This showed thickening of the ventricular wall, a sign that the heart was overworking in an attempt to pump blood through closing arteries.

A stress test was ordered. I failed, and a cardiac cath revealed blockage. Immediately the doctor implanted a stent. This was July, 2001.

I did my cardiac rehab exercises faithfully. In November, near Thanksgiving, I couldn't do the bicycle anymore. I told the nurse. She ordered an ECG. There was a pattern consistent with blockage.

This led to a Friday trip to the emergency room, which led to another stress test, which led to another cardiac cath, which indicated that the stent had plugged, the same artery was plugging below the stent, and a neighboring artery was closing, too. Balloon angioplasty indicated that the tissue plugging the arteries was spongy and elastic and would barely stay open.

A CABG was ordered for the following Tuesday. I stayed at the hospital because there was fear I'd not make it back if the arteries finished closing while I was away.

So, I had the weekend to prepare, view the videos, and view some which were on the cart (to train cardiac nurses) but which I was not supposed to see. I learned about the heart-lung machine.

I had an excellent surgeon, and the fact that I had been in a regular exercise program helped me through the procedure. My brother-in-law had had bypass surgery, and he warned me not to fight the respirator tube as I was awakening, so I didn't.

I was on my feet, by the bed, tubes and wires dangling, the afternoon of the surgery. The next day I loaded all my "stuff" on a wheelchair and walked to the door and back. The next day, I made it down the hall a couple of times. We extended the walks.

I also faithfully did the respiration exercises with the breathing device, trying to get the ball as high in the tube as I could. This helped considerably.

I described the procedure to my friends as a cross between the Texas Chain Saw Massacre and the Shootout at the O.K. Corral. My sternum was wired and stitched, and the tubes left three "bullet-hole? wounds.

I was home in a few days, did my walks, tended my wounds, and got okay.

Being a borderline hypochondriac, I imagined all kinds of things every time I had a pain or a twinge or a hurt. I'd check it out with the cardiologist (who was patient and kind and understanding), and everything has checked out okay every time I've had a follow-up test.

A nurse friend visited us last summer (200). She had been a cardiac nurse. I noticed that she was watching me closely. I asked her, "Why...?" She said, "I wanted to see if you were a Pump Head."

I said, "What's a Pump Head?"

She filled me in. She thought I was doing fine.

I hit the internet and read everything I could find about Pump Head (or CABG Head, as some call it) and discussed it with my doctor. He hadn't told me about it.

So I looked up an E-Mode (Tickle) on-line IQ test and took it to see if I, too, had lost cognitive function. My IQ score on the on-line test was higher than my college score, and consistent with my graduate battery (exams).

However, Since the surgery, I do have trouble staying focused. It's hard to complete work assignments.

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