11/12/13 The end of A-fib?
I am taking a chance here writing about this one because I am terrified of jinxing it. My heart is in sinus rhythm. There, I said it. If it falls back to Afib, let’s just deal with it.
If you go back a few entries in this blog – quite a few actually, you’ll see some writing about my heart and it going into Atrial Fibrillation. I’ll spare you the hunt and give you the highlights. About 4 years ago, right after hernia surgery #2, I had my first bout of A-fib. I freaked out, went to the emergency room, got a pile of tests, and a beautiful nurse injected me with blood thinners. The nurse’s shift ended, and I went to a hospital room to ponder what the hell was wrong with my life. It naturally converted overnight, so I got out of the hospital the next morning and figured it was just a result of the surgery.
Over the next 3 months, it seemed anything sweet or sour kicked me back into Afib, as well as any heavy exercise like swimming. And so began the annoying journey known as Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation. Fancy word. Translation: Anxiety Life Sentence. “Don’t worry, Mike,” said the docs and nurses. “Even though we know nothing about why people get this and have no solution, it probably won’t kill you so long as you stay on the appropriate anticoagulant medication. Thousands of people have it. Thousands.”
I realized right then and there I not only had one disease that nobody can fix, but now I had two. The emotional yo-yo of being in and out of regular rhythm began, and this carried on for about two years, until one day I was in a sushi restaurant with a couple folks for lunch, and it popped out of rhythm once again. I tilted my head like a curious dog, and thought to myself, “that one felt different.” I had a feeling that it wasn’t going to convert, and two years later and two attempts to electronically cardiovert it, my atriums remained as a quivering pile of Jello.
Fast forward to about a few months ago when suddenly my hydration levels improved. Then fast forward to about 5 weeks ago when I went to the plant-based diet. I woke up one morning and I said to myself, “I’m almost 50. I need to get my heart sorted out because if I don’t, I am going to start aging quickly.”
As usual, I had to take action on my hunch. TV commercials for long term medications were out. I jumped on the phone and asked my doctor friends if I should start thinking about an ablation for my heart. Yes, was the response. An ablated heart in sinus rhythm is better than a non-ablated heart in Afib. Ablated hearts don’t always stay in rhythm, though, so I needed some more answers. I went to see an Afib specialist here in Las Vegas last week, and we scheduled me for a TEE and cardioversion. The plan was to take a good look at the size and shape of my atriums and determine if I was ablation-worthy. Doc specifically told me that he didn’t expect the cardioversion to work given I’ve been persistently chronic for two years, but it would give him good information about the ablation possibility.
I went into the hospital two days later, and assumed the position I’ve become way too familiar with. I knew of the anesthesiologist through another friend, and I asked him the proper way to administer propofyl. IV was established, and soon I was wheeled into the Cath Lab and dosed gently into La-La land. I woke up after what seemed like somewhere between eight hours and three months to the words, “Mike, Mike, Mike, wake up, you’re in recovery. Your heart is in sinus rhythm.” Turned out I was under the milk for about six minutes, they did the TEE, gave me a good jolt, and I converted first time.
WHAT?? I couldn’t believe it. I had to be dreaming. It was like someone reattached my hand after accidentally cutting it off two years prior. I smiled, even giggled. I couldn’t pull my fingers off of my throat, checking my pulse every ten seconds. Then the worry set in. I wondered if it would last……..my wife wondered too. I woke up the next morning, after some 75,000 beats (amazing how many times our hearts beat when you really do the math), and I thought to myself....."This is different, I think this might stick."
I’ve been sinus since. Tomorrow will be a week. I’ll follow up with the Doc on the 25th, but as I sit now, I have more blood circulating through my body than I have in the past five years. I found a new toy and I can’t put it down.
If it does stick, that will be result #7 since becoming hydrated from seeing my healing therapist and going full vegan with the food. Let's hope it's lucky #7, and there's some more where that came from.