The procedure was a success, Dr. Frankenstein!

At least that’s what I felt like shouting after the doctor’s were done with my wife’s latest surgery.

It was five years ago when my wife had a minor stroke. During her stay in the hospital, the doctors identified the root cause of the stroke. Her carotid artery was almost completely blocked. While it was true that she had a some arterial disease, part of the reason that her carotid artery was in such bad shape was because she had an abnormally small carotid artery to begin with.

That was a first for me. One of the things that I never had to think about was how people differ with respect to their arteries and veins. It seems that there is a small percent of people — mostly women — that have carotid arteries that are smaller than the average person. Due to their decreased size, it doesn’t take nearly as much arterial disease for them to become blocked.

In 2011, my wife had an endarterectomy. [1]

I thought that the problems with her carotid artery were finished. Boy was I wrong.

Everything was showing up normal for several years after her endarterectomy. Her cardiologist would occasionally do ultrasounds on her neck to make sure that her carotid was still open. The results of the ultrasound almost instantly showed that there was a little over 50% blockage in her carotid artery, but we were told that there was no need to worry about it. It was explained to us that, during her endarterectomy, they had used a “patch” on her carotid artery. That patch could give the impression that her artery contained blockage when, in fact, it didn’t.

We would soon find out, however, that the blockage was back.

After repeated ultrasounds, her cardiologist was concerned that there was too much blockage. He wanted to run a catheter into her carotid artery and an accurate measurement of exactly how much blockage might be present. [2] The problem with the technique — at least for my wife — was that she also suffers from stage 4 kidney disease. Since the dye that is used during the catheterization places an enormous burden on the kidneys to filter it and remove it from the bloodstream, extra care had to be taken.

Her cardiologist referred her to a specialist that would perform the angiography and, if it was necessary, perform a carotid stenting [3] at the same time.

While I hoped that there wouldn’t be any problems with her carotid artery, we weren’t sure what we would find until the surgeon was in the middle of the procedure. Outside of the surgeon, my wife would have been the first to know that she needed a stent since they had to keep her awake for the procedure.

I got the call a little over an hour after the surgery started. There was indeed a problem, and they had to put a stent into her carotid artery. The procedure went without any flaws, and my wife is now home trying to catch up on sleep from the ordeal.

I, too, and trying to catch up on some sleep as well. But doing without sleep has proven to be rather easy since I feel such a intense sense of relief. I can now get back to just enjoying being with my wife without the underlying fear that the sand is almost gone from the hourglass. While I’m sure that my wife had to face more fear — and be braver — than me. I feel like the world has been given back to me.

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I am a writer of words, a thinker of thoughts, a changer of genders, and a queerer of life. I am an antagonist of the ordinary; and while I do tolerate it, I also look at it with contempt.

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