Thursday, June 23, 2011

Some Highs, Some Lows & Biopsy Results

It's been six weeks since my heart transplant and the past two weeks since my last post have been interesting. At my four week visit they took me off of my blood pressure medication (lisinopril) and after a few days of being off it I began to get sharp, shooting pains in my head. When I would stand up I would get dizzy and a ringing in my ears. Of course it was a Friday night so when I called the Penn Transplant Center I got the answering service. The on-call nurse practitioner called me back and had me take my blood pressure. It was 155/120. She told me to go back on my lisinopril but only half the dose and she would call me back the following day to check on me. The whole next week my pressure would be fine in the morning and then at night it would be slightly elevated but by the following weekend it was back down to normal.

After venturing out a few times the past couple of weeks I've also noticed that when I in large groups or crowds I get anxiety/panic attacks. I talked to my doctors about it and they said I should just take it easy for a little bit while I get acclimated with social scenarios. Another thing is the rash on my back (caused by the high dose of prednisone I'm on) has spread to my chest and is beginning to show up on my neck and my face. The lotion they gave me doesn't seem to be doing much to curb it either. Plus, when I apply it to my face it makes me break out. I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't.

As for my check-up yesterday, everyone seemed really pleased with my progress. My Aunt Karen is in town visiting me so she took me down and since I had to be there so early we went down Tuesday afternoon and spent some quality time in Philly. I was able to walk from Center City all the way to Independence Hall and walked Independence Hall which was about a mile and an half. I didn't have to stop once! I did, however have to take a cab back to the hotel from there. I was starting to get tired and we wanted to "freshen up" before going to dinner. My appointment in clinic went really well. I had a lot of questions about things so it took a little longer than expected and I was late for my VO2 stress test but they didn't seem to mind. The most important question I had was whether or not I can drive. They seemed apprehensive at first but after hearing about my adventures of walking the day before and how mobile I am at home with stairs getting in and out of chairs, they figured I am ready to drive. I finally get to enjoy my new car! Their only concern is the seatbelt if I stop short so I just have to put some sort of cushion between myself and the seatbelt but it doesn't have to be the giant, obnoxious heart shaped pillow that I've been driven around with for the past four weeks. They also said that they don't expect me to return to work any sooner than six months post-surgery which puts me back in the office in mid-November. I was hoping it would be a little sooner than that but I'm going to be starting cardiac rehab three times a week so it would make it difficult to work around that. Especially since I don't know how long I will be going to rehab for. But I'm looking forward to having somewhat of a more structured schedule. My doctors seem to think that will help with the anxiety when out in public too.

My VO2 Stress Test went really well and I was on the treadmill for about 11 minutes. I could have gone longer but my leg muscles are so de-conditioned from sitting in a hospital for seven weeks that they felt like they were on fire. Another reason why cardiac-rehab will be good for me. After that I had my Biopsy. The biopsy itself took about 7 minutes. Probably because I had a different doctor do it and he only gave me one shot of local anesthesia and didn't even give it time to take effect before he stuck the catheter into my neck. And then when he saw me wince in pain and asked if I was all right, ignored the fact that I said it hurt. When I winced a second time, he said there was a lot of scar tissue he had to go through and he would be done in three minutes. Usually, they just give me a little more local anesthesia and I'm fine. Needless to say, my neck is a little sore today. After the biopsy we grabbed lunch and then I went over to see the unit I was in before my transplant so I could hi to my Nurses and introduce my Aunt to them. (On a side note, I had no idea how far the walk was through the Hospital to get to Founders 10. I don't know how all of you who visited more than once did it lol.) After that we headed home because I was tired and starting to not feel well (mostly my neck).

I got the results from my biopsy today and everything came back good. No rejection, my tach levels were perfect and they lowered my prednisone down another 5mg. One step closer to clearing up the rash! They also stopped my Iron supplement because my levels were perfect. One less pill to take! The results from my stress test haven't come in yet but they don't foresee any problems with it. They just do it to make sure I'm ready to begin rehab.

That's all the news for now (I think it's more than enough for one post). Sorry I've been MIA from posting on here and the Hrt4Bryan Facebook page. I think after seven weeks of sitting in front of a computer I just needed a break. I'll try not to keep people in the dark with how I'm feeling and what's going on. If anything major comes from the VO2 Stress Test I'll let you know.



  1. Glad it's going so well! (minus the rash) love you B

  2. It is so good to hear from you. Darn Predinsone! I HATE THAT STUFF...I have not got the rash BUT boy do I have a pretty ROUND face.
    I understand the anxiety...must be a real transplant issue. I was doing better after a couple of months.
    Stop by my blog sometime and say hi.