Back on December 4th, when I was having surgeries to repair a damaged artery in my left leg as well as the severe damage to my knees, the doctors also placed an IVC filter inside the right side of my abdomen. An IVC filter usually sits inside a large vein just below the kidneys, and its purpose is to catch blood clots before they can travel to the lungs or brain. Since I had suffered severe trauma and would not be able to walk for several more months, the doctors thought my risk of developing blood clots was pretty high, and so they placed the filter as a preventative measure (ironically, this decision was made before they discovered I had already had two strokes from blood clots). The thing about IVC filters, though, is that they have to come out within a few months of being placed…otherwise they actually grow into the tissue of the vein, and that becomes its own issue. So, now that I am able to move around more, guess what had to come out?? The IVC filter!
A few weeks ago, I was disconcerted to learn that the filter is retrieved by making an incision through the neck into the vein where the filter is placed, then reaching all the way down the vein into the kidney area, catching the filter, and pulling it back out through the neck incision. Ew. (A pertinent question that came to mind was – why couldn’t they just do a small abdominal incision instead? Not sure on that one.) Anyway, I’d been consoling myself by imagining that I’d be asleep – or at the very least in a heavy twilight zone – for this procedure, and so wouldn’t be aware of all the “filter fishing” that was going on.
However, when we checked into the hospital early yesterday morning, I learned during prep time that although they would use a local anesthetic for the neck incision, I would be completely awake the whole time during the procedure. As you can imagine, that was precisely not what I wanted to hear. In spite of everything I’ve been through in the past few months, I hate surgical/medical/painful things, and want to be as far removed from all that as possible. Ivan held my hand and prayed, and both he and Mom stayed with me as long as they could…but by the time I got wheeled away for the procedure I was very, very nervous.
This story does have a happy ending, however. Once I got to the OR the nurse gave me some sort of medicine to make me relaxed, and although I was very aware of everything that was going on (including the filter traveling back up my vein to my neck)…..somehow I felt so calm and happy that I actually didn’t care any more. If you had asked me earlier that morning, I would definitely not have seen that reaction coming!
So today we are praising God: 1) that the filter came out successfully, 2)That the experience was not nearly as traumatic as it sounded, and 3) That this marks the end of the procedures I will need done in the foreseeable future. God is good!