My Heart Catheterization - A Moving Experience

My Heart Catheterization - A Moving Experience  
by Charles "Catfish" Pole aka Catfish Charlie - who really is Master Po, using an alias to keep peace in the family.

As we baby boomers age, we are often faced with an onslaught of medical tests and procedures. They run the gamut from minor to major, from head to toe, and from our outer epidermis to the inner regions of the heart.

I don't have to provide a detailed description of the gowns worn during these activities, nor how self-conscious the patient might feel. Our emotions may range from feeling a little uncomfortable to experiencing downright full embarrassment. For the medical professionals involved, however, it's just a routine day on the job.

To complicate this scenario, for me, as a retired teacher in the area, the employee on duty is often a former student. Such was the case during one of my colonoscopies a few years ago. Just as I was told to turn over onto my side and get ready for the insertion, a friendly and well-meaning attendant pulled her surgical mask down and said, "Hello, Mr. Pole, this is Dottie."

And then I replied without hesitation, "Please put me out immediately."

On another occasion during the same medical procedure, I was asked, "How have you been, Mr. Pole? This is Corey's mom." My reply was the same. "Please put me to sleep now."

Last week I was admitted to a local hospital as an out-patient for my second heart catheterization, and I fully expected to experience another inadvertent humiliation. I wasn't expecting to be so moved by the experience, though.

Sure enough, the RN walked into the prep room and I recognized her friendly smile at once. Her name was Karen and I had taught her life science many years ago when she was in junior high school. She recognized me and my wife right away and I was somewhat surprised that she remembered my class well. She recalled a few incidents that had taken place and astonished me when she remembered where she sat in that classroom over 30 years ago. I was moved by her recollections and felt proud, too, that she had obviously learned her early life science and anatomy lessons well.

Professionally, with a great bedside manner, she reassured me regarding what to expect in the lab, also reminding me that most of the attendees there were males and that I shouldn't feel too uncomfortable with their presence. Meanwhile, I wrestled with that God-forsaken hospital gown which no doubt was designed by some French maid with porno film production experience. Victoria's Secret is seriously missing the boat with that design. "Why don't they just give me a bib?" I asked myself.

I was transported to the cath lab where I was greeted by Clarissa. It took only a fraction of a second to realize that Karen was mistaken. Clarissa was not a male. The fact is that Clarissa was drop-dead gorgeous. She possessed a beautiful smile, awesome eyes, and a great tan. She was also blessed with a cordial personality. She commented on my tan and then said in a true professional manner, "I'm going to shave your groin."

Although my anxious 57-year-old mind was preoccupied with the upcoming lab procedure, remember I am a normal male heterosexual, too. To quote George Costanza from two old episodes of Seinfeld, "I think it moved." No, not to the full extent it could have moved, but I think I did sense a small re-adjustment in position. Fortunately, this prep did not last long, and I was whisked into the cath procedure room where I asked for, and was given, a mild sedative to help me fly through the modus operandi. (Modus Operandi - Latin for receiving a groin incision while donning a mini hospital gown previously owned by John Holmes)

With the course of action complete, I was taken back to Clarissa where she applied "15 minutes of constant pressure" with her hands on my groin in the area where the incision had taken place. I want to note that Clarissa was totally professional in every way as she carried out her medical assignment. This was just another day on the job for her, but for me, it was not a routine occurrence by any stretch of the imagination. Although still a little groggy from the sedative, I am not positive, but I believe I may have been somewhat moved once again.

Drifting in and out of consciousness, but mostly remaining asleep, the 15 minutes seemed more like a 30-second time span.

Later, Karen once again checked the incision area to make sure there was no bleeding or swelling. Hence, possible movement number three may have taken place.

It dawned on me the next day or so that it is probably well-designed by nature that old geezers like me are more likely to undergo procedures like a heart cath. If young male patients had to go through this kind of episode, they may be further moved by the whole ordeal thus potentially causing huge medical ramifications. Well, maybe the ramifications wouldn't be huge, but larger than the norm.

Today, I am happy the catheterization is over and done with, at least for this time around. I am also elated that the procedure discovered no new woes to worry over. The preparation alone caused this guy to suffer with enough anxiety to last a long while.

Regarding medical professionals like Dottie, Corey's mom, Karen, and Clarissa, I have nothing but respect for the work you do. I admire you for your professionalism and I salute you in your daily routine. Most patients will concur that you don't get paid nearly enough for your toil.

I am now so moved that I feel the need to search the bathroom medicine cabinet to locate my tube of hydrocortisone ointment. My shaved incision area is no longer sensitive, but it is becoming rather itchy.

My Roots - The Potchaks - circa 1927

My Roots - The Potchaks - circa 1927
From Left: Son, Steve - Dad, Frank - Mom, Anastasia (Makar) - Sons; John, Mike, Frank, Chuck (Author's Dad) - Twins, Pete & Mary - Daughter, Catherine. Photo taken in Wilmore, PA