Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cardiac Catheter Ablation

I was scheduled for the Electrophysical Lab at 11:30 yesterday, so had to arrive at the hospital at 10:30. I was prepped and IV'd and hooked up to monitors by 11:00... and waited until 2:30 before being taken to the lab... there were a couple of emergencies that took precedence. OK, if I was in a cardiac emergency I would like to be taken in ahead of a scheduled procedure... I was very hungry and a had a headache, and a bit concerned when the cardiologist told me of the risks of the procedure.

Once I got into the lab, they tied me down to the table to make sure I did not get freaked out enough to try to sit up or get out of there (standard procedure). An X-ray machine was lowered down from the ceiling to a point just above my chest, and swathed in sterile plastic, as was everything else. They put a mild sedative in my IV, numbed the right groin area, made an incision and inserted four catheters in the incision. I was awake and aware throughout the procedure. At one point they decided I was TOO aware, asking too many questions, and gave me a dab more sedative.

I could see the progress of the catheters on the monitor at my left side. After they were in place they did the EP study, measuring and then pacing the electrical impulses in my heart. Once they found out where the problems were (that were causing the tachycardia) they moved on to the Ablation procedure. In this, they gave me drugs to increase my heart rate while they looked for the exact abnormal pathways and cauterized them. I lost count of the number of times that they increased my heart rate to a point way beyond my usual attack of tachycardia. But as I lay there on the table I knew that if my heart felt like that in any other conditions I would be calling 911 and making sure my will was in order (it is). The heart rate and intensity of the beating was hard to describe...beyond anything I had ever experienced. The abnormality was not in the first two expected places, but was found after all... and once they cauterized it they tested again (with the madly increased drug-stimulated heart rate) to make sure there was not another abnormal pathway.

I had to lie flat on my back (no pillow) and not move my right leg or head or neck for the 4 hours on the table and another 3 hours in recovery. Then when I was allowed to get up and go to the rest room I made a wrong move and started bleeding from the incision. Oops. Back to the bed and more stillness and pressure on the incision. It was enough to make me follow the recommendations and take it easy for a couple of days! When we came home last night I felt like I had run a marathon, and I still feel kind of puny.

I am looking forward to having my normal life back. I already feel the difference being off the beta blockers and it's only been 4 days since I discontinued them. Once I recover from the procedure (a couple of days) I am looking forward to feeling like myself again. Bottom line: I'm glad I did it and glad it's over!


Marie Swan said...

Wow! I'm glad it went well. I hope this will "fix" things and that your workouts will be less stressful from now on. Congratulations on the 6,000 miles! That is just fantastic. I'm thinking you must be at close to 7,000 miles total if you add in the swimming, kayaking and running...hahahaha.

Bill said...

Glad the procedure worked out well and hope it's a permanent fix.