Thursday, November 16, 2017

Shunt operation number 4

So, the last time (August 2017) the surgeons decided to operate on my shunt because it was becoming too narrow. This operation was successful, but it also had the effect that my shunt volume increased dramatically, a blood flow of 2-3 liters per minute. In the long run this would lead to heart damage, so I requested a shunt narrowing. And that's what this fourth operation was about.

The operation itself ran for two hours, nearly, and was the most painful one I have experienced in the last 6 years. It was again under local anaesthesia (on my request), but this time I could feel all the pricks and cuts and kept crying out in pain, and in response they kept pumping my arm full of anaesthetic (what's the English for lokale Betäubung?), to the point that I lost all sensation in the entire hand for maybe one day.

So the operation was particularly hard this time round. They installed some kind of plastic tubing in the shunt to by-pass the main blood flow (something like that), thereby reducing blood flow. I hope that I can now catch a break in 2018, and can be operation-free for some time at least. The surgeon warned me that my shunt was in its last stages, and in about two years they will have to build a new one. Let's hope the surgeon is wrong and that this shunt will keep going for another four years, the period of time I need to wait before I get a transplant.

I ended up in hospital for a whole week this time, usually it is only two days. This was the most horrible part of the whole experience. My neighbor was a guy who had diabetes, and had lost his eyesight, kidney function, and part of his foot to gangrene---all known consequences of uncontrolled blood sugar in diabetics. What was weird was that he didn't seem to understand that his foot no longer functions, and he kept walking all over the room with his amputated foot, leaving a gruesome trail of blood wherever he went. He still had gangrene in his foot, and I assume more amputations are coming, but he was oblivious to the crisis he was facing. He had lots of sugar with his tea, and all deserts and meals that the hospital offers (disgusting, unhealthy German crud, more on that one day).

The worst part of this experience was not even being in the same room as a guy with gangrene and a bleeding, amputated foot. The worst part came when the doctor sauntered into our room, my fifth day with this guy, and told him: "Congratulations! I have good news! You don't have tuberculosis!"

What would have happened to me if this guy had had tuberculosis? How did I end up in a room with a suspected case of TB?