The cardiac pre-admission story

Cheron Parmar, who is having keyhole surgery to close a hole in her heart. Read a step-by-step guide to what happens at a cardiac pre-admission appointment.

A few weeks before the procedure, Cheron visits the Cardiac (heart) Outpatients Department for a pre-admission appointment with Advanced Nurse Practitioner Amanda Daniels.

The appointment lasts about an hour-and-a-half and its aim is to make sure the hospital knows everything about her health and that she is well enough to have an operation. But it also helps Cheron to understand exactly what's going to happen to her – and gives her the chance to ask any questions about it.

  1. Mum and I are shown into a room by Amanda, who goes through my medical history with us and fills out a form with all the details. The hospital needs to be sure I'm fit for the operation and there's nothing important they don't know about.
  1. I stand against a wall so my height can be measured.
  1. I stand on an electronic weighing machine to have my weight measured. There's a small chair on it so that younger children can sit down.
  1. My blood pressure is taken. I sit on a chair and a cuff wired to a machine is attached to my arm. I also have a monitor, which looks a bit like a peg, on my thumb to measure my oxygen saturation levels.
  1. Amanda then checks my heart and chest with a stethoscope. That also involves putting the stethoscope on my back.
  1. The pulse points in my feet are checked. To do this, Amanda puts her index and middle finger over the pulse site in each foot. She explains she's also checking the colour and warmth of my feet.
  1. I give blood samples. I don't like needles very much, but it's quick and only hurts a tiny bit, and then it's over.
  1. I'm taken to another room where I change into a hospital gown to have an echocardiogram (known as an echo). This uses sound waves that echo against structures in the heart to build up a detailed picture of the heart. I have to undress to the waist and lie on the couch. A probe, which looks like a short tube, is placed on my chest. The nurse also puts lubricating jelly on my chest so the probe makes good contact with the skin. The probe is connected by wire to the ultrasound machine and monitor.
  1. I get dressed and Mum and I go to the "family room", which is small and cosy and very pretty. There are pink sofas and pink tulip-patterned curtains. Amanda comes with us and we sit and chat about what will happen when I come in for the procedure. Amanda shows me detailed diagrams of the heart and explains how the procedure will close the hole in my heart. What's lovely is that Amanda talks to me rather than Mum, so when she's finished explaining I feel really comfortable asking questions. The main thing I want to know, which has been worrying me a bit, is will the device being put into my heart break? Amanda reassures me it won't and explains why that is – the muscle grows round it. By the time we sign the consent forms, I am feeling comfortable and not at all anxious. I feel I know what's going to happen and the hospital has all the details it needs about me to make sure the procedure goes smoothly and I can be discharged quickly afterwards.
  1. We are taken to see the ward where I'll stay when I come in for my operation. That's really nice because I get to see the bed I'll have and where everything is. I meet some of the nurses too and they're really friendly.

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