Oct. 21, 2017

Temporal artery biopsy procedure

Here we are, minutes away from a procedure that scares the daylights out of me.  Just as a reminder, this is a procedure where the surgeon will be cutting into the side of my head to obtain a section of my temporal artery to test whether or not I have temporal arteritis.  It’s scary because it’s my head.  I have a strong aversion to people touching my head.  My reactions may include jerking away or swinging to keep people away from my head.  Neither of those would be good for anyone when they perform this procedure on me because I’m not put under.

I’m wheeled in on the gurney, and I repeat that I don’t want to hurt anyone, and they’d better put me to sleep.  The anesthesiologist laughs and asks me why I’m so violent.  I respond with, “I’m not violent and I’m doing my best to protect everyone in there!”  I had to repeat myself for everyone’s safety.  I couldn’t stress it enough.

Once the gurney is firmly placed, I am asked roll onto the operating table and lie on my right side since they would be taking the section from my left temporal artery.  I’m a big woman lying on my right side on a flat, hard table.  Luckily, the nurses for this procedure are very conscientious and supply me with numerous pillows for my head, arms, and knees.  These are important for me as I have issues with my spine that hinder my mobility. 

Once I’m as comfortable as can be, the nurses strap me to the table at the waist, hips, and knees.  The anesthesiologist tells me what he’s doing and how, and the surgeon begins shaving a bit of my hair at my temple.  I think I flinch or jerk when the surgeon does that because I can feel myself getting really relaxed and I barely hear the anesthesiologist tell me that he’s going to add the medicine.  The next thing I know, I’m slowly waking up but can still feel tugging on the side of my face.  I can feel my heart and breathing speeding up and my hands begin to fist.  I’m hyperventilating because I can’t move but can feel the surgeon doing things.  It’s not painful, but I can feel the pressure and it’s freaking me out.  Then I’m sleeping again.

When I wake up again, the anesthesiologist is telling me that the procedure is done and they’re just patching me up.  The rest of the team is cleaning up and jokes are abundant.  The jokes are not about me, but making sure that things are done right or one of the nurses would be blamed for everything.  When they begin to unstrap me, they request that I don’t move, or I’ll fall, and the nurse would get blamed.  It made me laugh because they were threatening to blame her for everything else.  They even teased her that I was laughing at her, too.  Nice way to wake up after a procedure, right?  Where everyone is in a good mood and the procedure was successful?  Of course.


My message for this entry?  When something is important to you, especially if it involves your safety, keep speaking up until they understand.  It’s YOUR life at risk.


Next…post-procedure recovery.