Yesterday I met with the cardiologist. I had quite a few reservations about this appointment for reasons I’ll explain further on in this post. But, after talking with her for just about 10 minutes I was smitten. I heart my cardiologist and I’m pretty sure she won’t let me die!
Originally I was scheduled to meet with a different cardiologist. This was set up back in the summer right after they discovered the left bundle branch block. Unfortunately, no one thought that six months might be a bit long to wait for the appointment. Yep. They scheduled the visit for February. That isn’t even the same year!
My primary care doc recently discovered the scheduling issue and was furious at both those who set the appointment and herself for not realizing it sooner. She switched me to a different cardiologist and called to set the appointment herself.
I was told that this new doctor only saw my “type of patient” in Ann Arbor. Going to that college town is a nightmare and the traffic getting anywhere in the hospital complex is normally ridiculous. It’s bumper-to-bumper and the average speed is 0.5 mph. In addition to the long drive down and the traffic, this appointment was scheduled for 8:40 a.m. which meant we’d have to leave no later than 6:50 a.m. to even have a chance to be on time.
I didn’t sleep a wink the night before. Not because I was concerned but simply because I occasionally suffer from insomnia. After making several attempts at bullying myself to sleep I gave in and headed upstairs to make a pot of coffee. I was surprised to see a mug with a Christmas tag attached sitting next to the coffeemaker. My son and daughter-in-law left it there for me knowing I had to be extremely early.
I have really sweet kids!
There was a little drama when it was time to leave. I told my granddaughter to tell her Poppa I was on the front porch. He didn’t come up so she didn’t tell him. He sat downstairs thinking I was finishing with something and I stood on the porch in the rain for several minutes. And we still had to let the ducks out and feed them. It all turned out as expected; I was furious at being wet and sure I’d be late so I refused to speak to Mr. C. Mr. C was angry that I hadn’t hollered that I was going out. The ducks were terrified that their door was opened while it was still dark. So far, so good.
As is par for us we stopped being mad at each other before we even got near the village. We made our way across one busy rush hour freeway and to the next. The traffic wasn’t horrid until we got to the little street heading to the hospital but we already knew that would be bad. It took us over 10 minutes to go a mile. Thank goodness this appointment was in a different part of the complex so once we turned off Depot Street it was a relatively quick drive.
The check-in and triage went quickly and soon we were in the exam room. First they did an EKG to check for any remarkable changes since the last one. Then it was time to meet Dr. Shore. I had no idea what to expect because, unlike most of the U of M docs, she doesn’t have a picture on the website.
She swept into the room and introduced herself to me and to Mr. C. Immediately she gave us both her card telling us that we could get in touch with her any time if there were a problem; Not some on call cardiologist but her. I liked that a lot!
Dr. Shore had clearly read all my medical records as she was aware of the report from the neurologist, the physical therapist, and even the docs from the hip shots the day before. She had studied the CT Scan and knew exactly why I was there but she wanted to be sure I understood the report. I was pleased that she allowed me to tell her what I knew and she filled in details for me.
She listened to my heart and lungs, studied the new EKG, and then sat down to discuss her plans for me. I was relieved to hear that she isn’t jumping into cardiac catheterization just yet. I’ve been given 2 new medications and she upped the dosage on a third. She’s ordered a sleep study so she can track how my heart behaves while I’m asleep because I get a lot of activity when I lie down. Dr. Shore explained that my kind of heart failure is not the same as the heart failure that’s killed nearly everyone on my mother’s side of the family.
My heart is stiff. It doesn’t fill properly. The “ejection fraction” which indicates how well it pumps is good. The coronary arteries are severely calcified.
The CT Scan confirms it. I’m hard-hearted.
There are a lot of lifestyle changes I must make and there are other things I’m expected to do. I have to weigh myself every day and if I gain 2 lbs. overnight or 4 lbs. in a week I have to call her immediately. I have to take my blood pressure every day and send her the numbers via the patient portal.
After talking with us for about 20 minutes, covering everything that’s wrong with my heart and what her plan is she excused herself and sent in her nurse. The nurse also gave us cards with her direct phone number on them. I’m to call her if I have any questions or if I’m not sure if symptoms are serious or not.
The nurse gave me a binder filled with information on heart failure. In addition to one sheet handouts there were books called “modules” that I’m supposed to read covering everything I need to know, what I need to do, and how to accomplish these things. There was even a no/low sodium cookbook in the binder!
The sleep study has been scheduled for next Wednesday. I have a swallow study for the myasthenia on Monday but, so far, I’m off on Tuesday. Dr. Shore wants to see me in a few months if everything goes well until then. And I have a really good feeling that it will. Should things go badly I still feel confident that Dr. Shore will take good care of me. If I behave and do everything she told me to do. Oh, geez. I’m a dead woman!
No matter what I heart my cardiologist!