Think you need heart surgery? Let’s try a test or two…

By David F. Rooney

Lying abed at Royal Inland Hospital for a couple of weeks allows your mind to brood on all kinds of things: your state of being, your health, your relationships — you name it and it’s eventually going to wander through your brain.

It's just 7 am an I'm already waiting for one of the two cardiac tests that will help doctors decide whether I can get with some stents or need to go to Victoria or Vancouver for heart surgery.

Since the cardio-vascualr incident that sent me here on Aug. 21, I’ve discovered that what I initially thought was a stroke was actually some kind of event triggered by a heart attack that left me with 15% function in the ol’ ticker.

Now that was a shock. Could I get by with a a couple of stents? Or was self-inflicted damage to my heart such that I would require a heart bypass and a pacemaker or fibrillator?

Two tests: a MIBI Scan and an angiogram would answer those questions.

The MIBI is a stress test  that lets doctors know how good the blood supply is to my heart. First they took pictures of my heart using a hybrid CAT scanner.

Then, they injected me with a radioactive dye  called Sestamibi (aka MIBI) and chemically stimulated my heart with a drug called Persantine to mimic its state after a light exercise. They they photographed it again.

This, I was told by the nuclear technologists at Royal Inland, would give physicians an excellent idea of the state of my heart — to a point. To acquire a clearer picture they sent me on a day trip to Kelowna on Thursday for an angiogram

This procedure involved threading a very narrow tube up my radial artery to my by heart where it measured the blockages in my heart. If the blockages were minor I would get away with a stent or two. But if they were severe, I’d likely have to have a bypass and the installation of a fibrillator in my chest.

This is a hybrid CAT Scanner used to determine how much of my heart tissue is still functioning. The MIBI results were encouraging, but the real acid test was always going to be the angiogram which involves threading a near-microscopic camera through my femoral artery to my heart to inspect the blockages that have reduced mu heart function to just 15 per cent.

Just thinking about someone sticking a tube in an artery and manipulating it up towards your heart has major Creep Factor

This pictures hows the location of blockages in my heart. The upshot? I need a heart bypass and a fibrilator. The question is: when? David F. Rooney photo

overtones. But the team of at Kelowna General Hospital who performed this procedure ensured it was virtually painless.

So… the upshot of all this?

I probably need a heart bypass and a fibrilator but I don’t need it right away. I am being put in touch with a cardiologist in Vancouver whom I’ll have to go see and he’ll make the final recommendation as to what — and when — the next operation will be.

As I write this last words, I am just waiting for the woman I love more than anyone in the world, Sue, to come pick me up and take me back home to the town I love.

Thanks to each and every person who contacted me directly or indirectly. Your prayers, good wishes, small gifts (yes, Sarah, even the weird soup in a bag! And most especially the movies Bob and Joan Eley brought me!), jokes, stories, etc., really helped me weather this little adventure in one piece.

And finally, I’d like to thank the nurses, physicians and technicians at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops and Queen Victoria Hospital in Revelstoke and the various BC Ambulance Service paramedics I met for their professionalism, dedication and compassion.

Now all I have to do is get better and hurry up and wait for the step in this process!