What to expect… when expecting… (a heart cath!)

This is a post that I originally had posted on my very first blog at Bravejournal.com in 2006. There are those of you who have yet to go through a Right-side Heart Cath and are curious about what to expect. Well, this post is about my first heart cath that I had in Texas. I’ve had numerous heart catherizations when I was a kid but times have changed. Doctors no longer need to put you asleep while you undergo this procedure and you no longer need to stay in the hospital afterwards. I know you are nervous and it does seem a little scary with the fact that you are awake and all. If you are very nervous, you could ask your doctor for medication to take before the procedure to help you remain calm. This is up to your doctor though. You can always ask! Remember, there are NO dumb questions. This is your body and if you have questions, then you have the right to ask them.


I survived and am well recovered from the Heart Cath. It sure took longer than I expected. I had forgotten how much it would take out of me. The last time, before this one, that I had undergone a heart cath was when I was 11 yrs old. That was 25 yrs ago. [Remember, I wrote this in 2006]

For those of you who want to know how the Heart Cath went, here are the details:

I woke up at (an unGodly hour) 5am, took a shower and had the great sense to wear sweats to the hospital. I didn’t realize until after the procedure how glad I was that I wore sweats. We were out the door with my mother at 5:45am. We drove an hour to get to the hospital. [I know… I’m stunned that I was able to get myself out the door within 45 minutes too!] I took my ONE pill of Xanex at 7am. We (my older sister, her husband, my mother, my husband and me) were in the pre-op, recovery room and met the doctor who was going to perform the procedure. I’d never met him before but I did ask about him previously. He’s really nice!! All I know was that other hospital personnel who knew this doctor, told me to ask him about “Duke.” So, I thought about it and thought about it some more. I mean, what is this Duke? Is Duke his dog? Is he the Duke of Earl? I was going on and on with my imagination. Finally, I got my chance to ask him what this Duke business was about when I asked him, “What’s this Duke business about? Is he your dog?” Of course, this gets a laugh because apparently it wasn’t a dog. It is the name of the school he went to. I was like, Oh. I was all excited that it was going to be something adventurous!

The doctor told me that they were not going in at the neck but in at the groin area and they were going to inject 3 doses of Flolan (or it could have been Flovan– can’t remember) during the procedure. Of course, my oxygen had to be removed for the majority of this test. I was thankful for the Xanex because I panic at the thought of being without my oxygen. Yes, people can become mentally dependant on oxygen.

The flolan, when injected each time, made me feel really light headed and short of breath. I felt like I was going to pass out each time. That was no fun. But the staff in the procedure room were GREAT. The guy who watched the monitors who was standing next to my head, joked with me about the bottom monitor being used for karaoke. I was suppose to think of a song so they could put the lyrics up there for me to sing. Silly, I know.

When they were finally done with the test, they pulled the catheter out of my heart & vein and held pressure at the site for a little bit. Unfortunately, they didn’t hold it long enough because I began to bleed again in recovery and now I have a huge bruise that’s hideous! I was told to lay down and lounge around for 4 days. No heavy lifting over 10 pounds.

When I got home, I had shortness of breath and chest pain for two days and a migraine. On the 3rd day, I started feeling better. I got out of bed to lounge on the couch for a change of scenery.

And here I am today.. telling you all about it!

[Since this first heart cath that was done for the approval of Tracleer, I’ve not had my oxygen removed during the remaining heart caths that I’ve had done. And, they now go through my neck. YEA! The only part that hurts a little is the numbing up part. That stuff stings! Don’t let them fool you, it is worse than a bee sting but it numbs up fast. So after the first couple of sticks in your neck, you won’t feel anything after that. I recover faster from heart caths done in the neck but I still have mild problems breathing and my heart aches for a day or so afterwards. I have to take it easy the whole rest of the day and the next day.]

Have a great day! Don’t forget to follow my blog so you won’t miss out on future posts! The Olympics are GREAT!! Aren’t they?