I want to thank everyone for their well wishes and concern. I’ve had so many people reach out to me in one way or another and I truly feel the love and support of others.
I had more testing done last week. This ended up being nearly an all-day event because of all the prep work and then coming out of sedation. They sent a scope down my throat and then used an ultrasound machine to look more closely at my heart and the hole. They told me I would be awake for the test but I don’t remember anything. I drank lidocaine to numb my throat – I rolled over to get in position for the ultrasound and they must have have started the drugs in my IV because I have no recollection of anything else. Two hours later I woke up in a dark room still in the same position I started in.
Luckily, everything with my heart looks great. Yes, I have a small hole, but my heart looks healthy. Yes, they could close it, but he doesn’t think it’s necessary quite yet. The doc isn’t convinced the hole caused the TIA which is why I’ve got more appointments lined up with the neurologist.
This is what I’ve learned so far:
1. No one is going to advocate for your health better than you. I am a skeptical person by nature – I need things explained to me before I commit. When I was admitted to the hospital, I had nurses and doctors walking through my door at all hours of night requesting another test or additional blood work. I asked a lot of questions. Why this test? What will the results provide? I know to my husband it sounded as if I didn’t trust them and that I was second guessing. This was not the case, I just needed to fully understand what they were doing to me and what they were testing for. At one point they came into my room for yet another vile of blood (they had taken so much already). I asked the nurse what the test was for. She didn’t know, so she left the room and returned with the doctor. He explained they were going to test my blood for clotting. Which seems totally acceptable considering why I was there. But I was on blood thinners. The doctor was unaware of this and concluded the results would be inaccurate given the medication I was on. This happened more than once. Be an advocate for you health.
2. Hospitals give me anxiety. I’ve now been hospitalized 6 times – 5 births and a TIA. I have struggled in hospitals after each birth, which I attributed to my emotional state and hormonal imbalance. After my most recent experience, I realized, it’s not giving birth that gives me anxiety – it’s the hospital, I could not get out of there fast enough.
3. Seek out your own doctors. When you’re admitted to the hospital, doctors are assigned to you and they come by each day with their 2 minute talking points and then they leave the room and tell you to follow up with them later. I didn’t care for any of those doctors. When making follow up appointments I made sure to do my research on doctors and ask for referrals from as many people as I could. I keep reminding myself, they work for me – they should answer my questions and hear me out – that’s what I’m paying them for.
4. Our healthcare system is broken. We all know this. Stay in a hospital for any amount of time and start collecting bills and you can’t help but be frustrated. I had one bill from a doctor and I couldn’t remember who he was, so I called the billing dept for clarification. They couldn’t tell me what kind of doctor he was. They couldn’t tell me what he did for me. Yet I had a $2,000 bill they wanted me to pay for his unknown services. I think I’ve collected most of bills and every single one of them has something I’ve got to fight. It’s maddening.
5. Medicine is a practice. I have to keep reminding myself that doctors are great and wonderful and I’m appreciative for their knowledge, but they are practicing. In my case, it’s evident that they are unsure as to what caused the TIA. They can guess. They can speculate. They really are doing their best but it may not give me all the answers I’m hoping for. I’m coming to grips with this. There isn’t a test they can run that will give them all the answers and as I get second opinions I realize everyone has a different opinion.
6. We have a village behind us. We are connected to the most giving and loving people you will come across, family included. We had a number of people step in to help us. Staying overnight with our kids, taking them to soccer games, watching them, bringing us food, calling to check in and lending their support in other ways. I couldn’t ask for a more generous support system. Thank you all.