Getting some questions answered

A week after having a small stroke I was back in the hospital (this time a scheduled appointment versus an ER visit!) for a follow up test known as a Transesophogial Echocardiogram (aka TEE). The goal of the test is to get a better view of the Patent Formamen Ovale (PFO) in my heart and determine if

  • Should I have it closed – much of what I’ve been told is that the research doesn’t show a decreased chance of additional strokes whether a PFO is closed or not.
  • Is it something more than a PFO
  • The regular Echocardiogram showed the right side of my heart may be bigger than the left. The TEE would give a better look if this was actually the case, and if so, why.

The TEE is an outpatient procedure that involves putting a camera down your throat to get a picture from the back/side of your heart. I had a TEE done several years ago when my PFO was first diagnosed but I must have blocked from the experience from my memory because reading the authorization form and all of dangers was freaking me out a little. Just before the procedure was to begin the Tech came in and sprayed a numbing agent on my throat while we waited for the Cardiologist to arrive.

The Tech was a Colorado native so we had a short chat about some of his favorite hiking and mountain biking spots. Thankfully he did most of the talking because I was having a hard time swallowing, much less talking, as my throat started to numb. Thankfully my family had made the trip from NH because as much as I tried to remember what was going on around me, once the sedative was put into my IV, I was out. I needed my wife to fill me in with what the Doctor said after it was all over.

After the sedative started the procedure only took about 20 minutes. Once it was over I slept for about an hour after which I was finally allowed to eat. It was about 1:30 at this point and my last meal was 9:30 the previous evening. I couldn’t tell if the food was any good, just that I was finally able to eat.After eating and more sleeping the nurse took me on a couple of loops around the hospital ward to make sure the sedative had worn off, and I was released.

The results: it is a PFO, and the concern about the enlarged atrium size ended up being consistent with the PFO. The answer that I don’t have yet is whether or not to have the PFO closed. There are still more conversations to have and research to do before making that decision. Thankfully it is not an invasive procedure but it is not a decision I’m taking lightly.

In the meantime, other than no weights, there are no physical restrictions and I got out for a short run the next day. I plan on ramping back up slowly and if I decide to have it closed figure out what races to do based on how long the recovery time is. Lots to decide in the coming days….

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