Some of you who have read here for a long while may remember that I’ve had bouts with irregular rapid heartbeats for a number of years. At first I was diagnosed with SVTs, supraventricular tachycardia, with sudden jumps to 200 beats a minute that wouldn’t go back to normal without an ER visit. The last few years the symptoms have changed to smaller versions of palpitations with my heart feeling like it’s vibrating or quivering, usually for just a few seconds at a time, but sometimes longer. When I first shared this with my doctor, he said that it’s not unusual for “middle-aged” women to experience palpitations. But when they seemed to be increasing, I spoke to him again, and he sent me to a cardiologist. They had me wear a monitor for a couple of days and I was again diagnosed with SVTs.
From the beginning they mentioned a surgery called an ablation in with they go in through the blood vessels in the groin to the heart and “zap” the nerves causing the problem. I learned later that what they actually do is burn very, very small areas to create scar tissue to disrupt the nerve signals. I didn’t want to do anything invasive at first and tried to control it with medication, but it was getting so bothersome I finally decided to have it a couple of years ago. Some of you may remember my profound disappointment when, after putting off this surgery for years and looking forward to finally fixing the problem, they were not able to complete the procedure. With an SVT ablation they do an EP study of the heart first (for which I was awake – no fun), and that showed not SVTs but atrial problems, which required a different kind of procedure, which they evidently couldn’t do while they were in there. I distinctly remember being told that the other procedure was more risky and they only did it if the patient was at a higher risk by having diabetes and blood pressure problems, but I was later told that was a misunderstanding.
I was told that the atrial tachycardia carried a higher risk of blood clots, so I was put on a full dose of aspirin. I didn’t seriously consider an ablation for this because of my understanding that it would be riskier.
Then in June I had a bout of atrial fibrillation that lasted 13 hours and ended up spending the night in the ER. At the follow-up visit with my cardiologist, when he brought up the possibility of an ablation, I brought up what he had told me about it being riskier. He said that somehow we had miscommunicated on that and it’s actually better to do it without the risks of diabetes and high blood pressure. He said that one good thing about the ER visit was that it documented the afib: when the previous attempted ablation left me in afib, they weren’t sure it wasn’t triggered by something they did while they were in my heart. So the EKG readings they did while I was in the ER confirmed that this is what I have. He wants to do a cryoablation which uses cold rather than heat.
I wrestled a couple of days with whether to go through with this kind of ablation. They always have to tell you the worst possible scenarios (damaging the heart unintentionally, blood clots, even death. Yikes!) But that long afib event in the ER with its own possibility of causing blood clots scared me. I figured if there was a risk without having surgery and a risk with surgery, the better course would be to have the surgery and fix the problem.
So that is scheduled for next week. I’m purposefully not naming the date here because I don’t want it generally known when I won’t be home – even though it probably wouldn’t be a problem, you never know who is reading what’s online. 🙂 If you’re someone I have communicated with previously and you’d like to know, feel free to email me.
I was telling a friend on Sunday that there’s a song I hear on the radio sometimes that says something like, “If your heart keeps right, if your heart keeps right, there is joy and gladness in the darkest night.” My mind has been converting that to, “If your heart beats right…” 🙂 I am praying that this procedure will indeed help my heart “beat right.”
I you feel led to pray, I have some specific prayer requests:
- That this date will stick if it is God’s will. It was rescheduled by the doctor’s office once already, and that involves my husband having to rearrange his time off and rearranging care for his mom – besides prolonging everything.
- That this procedure will fix the problem this time.
- They said some people have to have the procedure done twice. Please pray that it will get taken care of with just the one.
- I have to go off the medications that we’re trying to keep this in control with five days ahead of the procedure, so please pray that I won’t have any serious afib (or blood clots!) during that time. One wrinkle here is that when I was in the ER, one of the medications they used was something that stays in your system for a couple of weeks, and my cardiologist said they couldn’t do the surgery while that was in my system. So not only do I really not want to go through another ER experience, I don’t want that to cause a push back for the surgery.
- That I won’t have any blood clots or negative side effects.
- That everything will go well with my husband’s mom at home. Though we have a hospital just minutes from us, the one we have to go to is 30 minutes away. At the closer hospital it’s easier for Jim to just run home for a few minutes and check on things or turn her or whatever. All of her needs should be covered and she’ll have someone with her at all times, but just pray that all goes well with her.
- That God will give me a calm and peaceful heart, mind, and spirit about it all.
So far I am approaching it much more calmly than I did the last procedure, though I do have moments of “nerves” about it all. It’s like when you have to give a speech, and you’re as prepared as you can be and have given it all over to the Lord, but you still have that butterflies in the stomach feeling. I just keep giving it back to the Lord and reminding myself that He is in control and reminding myself of several people who have told me their dad/uncle/grandfather/friend/etc. has had this with no problems.Last time I was greatly helped by reading Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest by Ed Welch in the time leading up to the procedure – I may look back over my notes or over passages from that this time.
I’ll have to be in the hospital overnight and avoid lifting or anything “strenuous” for several days. Jim is taking off the day of the procedure and a few days following. I’m getting some housework done ahead of time, both to keep myself and my thoughts occupied and also so hopefully nothing will be needed besides the everyday meals and dishwashing.
That’s probably much more than you wanted to know. 🙂
I appreciate your concern and interest and especially your prayers. I’ll let you know when it’s over and how it went.