Not just pretty cool.
I might be taking an umbrella to my heart.
So here is the diagnosis…
When a person has stroke or transient ischemic stroke (TIA) “out of the blue” with no obvious risk factors, doctors often check to see if the event was caused by a “hole” in the heart called a patent foramen ovale (PFO)? About 1 in 5 Americans has a PFO. Many don’t know it until a medical condition like a stroke or TIA occurs. PFOs often have no symptoms but they may increase your risk for stroke and TIA. Many PFO-related strokes are called cryptogenic, meaning they have no apparent cause.
The doctor explained that blood does not really care for turbulence. If one were to take a bowl of blood and a whisk, and scrambled it, it would make clots just for giggles…because that’s how blood rolls.
Turns out, if blood squirted across a juncture in the heart through a hole, there may be quite a bit of turbulence. A clot might form, and the next stop after that particular section of heart happens to be the brain.
I have this hole. How big? Dunno. For that I get another echocardiogram, but this time from behind the heart via a camera down the esophagus. Weird, huh? But also kinda fantastic in a Fantastic Voyage way.
If the hole is teeny, then I take aspirin the rest of my life and that takes care of it. If it is a little bigger then teeny I get to have “an umbrella” put in there to seal the hole. It was a pretty cool description and much more apropos than “a balloon”. The echocardiogram/ultrasound lady told me about the above animation when I told her I was an animator. No kidding. It really is lovely. AND CLEAR.
If I get the umbrella, it’s an outpatient procedure. I go in, they insert the thing via a wire through a vein. I think I will buy myself a tropical dress for the occasion.