I had my AVS at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles yesterday. In by noon, home at midnight, although thanks to a potassium crash they almost kept me overnight.
I wish I could recall the details, but the truth is, I remember very little! I was under conscious sedation for the procedure, but all I remember is the anesthesiologist telling me that he was giving me some Fentanyl to relax me, and the next thing I knew I was awake and being asked my name, birthdate, and who is the president. I got the first two right but whatever I answered for the president made everyone in the room start laughing. One of the nurses told me I was in the wrong century 🙂 What can I say, I was a history major for my undergrad.
The procedure ended right on schedule, at 5pm, and the interventional radiologist told me that it went as routinely as could be. While I won’t have results for at least a week, he said my right adrenal vein was like a textbook case and he doesn’t anticipate that the procedure will need to be redone. There was no time during the procedure that I recall being in any pain.
When I woke up from the sedation, I had an intense headache and my trapezius muscle was starting to freeze, which I knew meant my potassium had dropped. They ran labs throughout the day and it had gone from 3.8 to 3.4 to 3.2, at which point they hooked me up to a potassium drip. After the drip finished, they checked my K again and it had dropped further, to 3.1 – which was when they proposed keeping me overnight. Then the doctor decided to try a big dose of instant-release potassium – kind of nasty since I had to drink it straight (usually it’s mixed with juice, but since my body doesn’t process fructose and I can’t have fruit products, they mixed it with water). But, it did the trick, and shortly before midnight my potassium was up to 4.1 and I was on my way home.
So far there is no pain at the sites where the catheters went in, no signs of bruising, and the only difficulty I’m having is when sitting down and standing up – everything just feels creaky and stiff and I can’t move as quickly as usual.
As for the last-minute change of doctors – originally the interventional radiologist scheduled to do the procedure was Antoinette Gomes, who has something like 20 or 30 years of experience in this field. She has been dealing with an illness and was replaced by Justin McWilliams, who trained under her. I was a little hesitant about this change, but Dr. McWilliams was fantastic, as was John Moriarty, who assisted. All three of these doctors perform the AVS procedure regularly – Dr. Moriarty told me he had done one just the day before – and knowing that, I felt fine about going into it with a doctor who I had not consulted before.
All in all, I don’t think I could have hoped for a better experience. Everyone at UCLA was amazing and did a great job of putting my mind at ease.