I've had numerous tests recently, and most of them have started with an anonymous letter telling you to turn up at some hospital department. They sometimes come with an explanatory leaflet, but they can still be intimidating and scary (I certainly think so). I'm going to post my positive experiences so far here in the hope that hearing it from the patient's perspective might help calm a future reader.
Feel free to contribute, but let's avoid anything graphic. We're not trying to scare people!
(EDIT: Just moved this under "diagnosis" - These forums take some getting used to)
Bubble-Study Echocardiogram - My immediate reaction to this was "They're going to inject what!???" I had horrifying images of how this might be achieved. I had all sorts of thoughts of why this sounded like a bad idea...
... In fact this is a really simple, barely even uncomfortable test. Yes they fit a canula in your arm, most of us will be used to that by this stage, and you'll probably have to lie on your side in a slightly uncomfortable position, but the bubbles are so tiny, and are in some "shaken up" saline, it is just like having the saline injected, I felt nothing at-all - The cold gel used for the ultrasound is probably worse :)
Hi 'one47', Just had my second Bubble-Study Echocardiagram! I had one last October at my local West Country Hospital which confirmed I had a hole in my heart (PFO) so they referred me to the main West Country Hospital. They gave me the impression that the next step would be a 'Transesophageal Echocardiagram' (camera down my throat) with bubble (TEE) so they could determine the size and location of my PFO in more detail. However, when I attended my appointment at the main Hospital last week, I was dissappointed to hear that none of my notes and results had been forwarded from my local Hospital. So I had to tell them my stroke story and diagnosis so far, then have another Bubble Echo so they could confirm the PFO. Despite 'psyching myself up' it turned out I was never going to get a TEE on this visit. At my 'end of day' chat with the Doctor, he stated that although my PFO would qualify for a closure operation, there was currently no NHS funding, so I would stay on my current medication (Apixaban and Atorvastatin) till further notice. However, as there was a chance that my hole could be an ASD, they would refer me for a TEE to invesigate this, at another future appointment.
For anyone who due to have the Echo Bubble, like 'one47', I didn't find it anymore uncomfortable than an extended blood test. And you have to do some 'interesting' bracing and breathing excercises.
Okay, several people have been talking about having a TOE (transoesophageal echocardiogram), which even with all of the assurances from the consultants, sounds like a horrible procedure - I have good news... The procedure is probably pretty horrible, but you are unlikely to care. You are going to be given medication to relax you - In my experience, they give you a sedative... A medical sedative seems to effectively "put you out" so you will not be aware of any of the procedure, and certainly will not remember it.
The set-up as always involves injections and a canula, and lots of people fussing around you, but really, be assured, it is not as bad as it sounds. My worst complaint about the whole procedure?... They numb your throat before you start... The spray tastes like banana... I don't like banana.
Hello Again 'one47'. Further to my last reply, to your last post, I've just heard that my TOE is booked for three weeks time. I'm reassurred by your experience of the procedure, but I thought they had to keep you 'reasonably conscious' in order to carry out the 'breath holding and bracing' manoevers, in order to find the location and size of the PFO? Anyway, how did you get on and what is the next step for you, if you don't mind me asking? These Cryptogenic strokes still sound a bit confusing, depending on which internet article you read. Thanks again for your post. Regards, Gary.
Hi Gary. Yes, apart from the usual indignities I found the process okay. I do remember the consultant saying that I would not remember anything, so it is possible (I suppose) that I was partly concious but don't remember it. I am sure these things do vary from place to place.
They carried out the procedure on a ward, and slightly embarrassing, when my wife arrived to get me I was still asleep and snoring!
Hope it goes well, and perhaps add your experience here afterwards?