Friday, November 09, 2012

Sacking the Tach: Part 5 of FIVE!!!

I'm cured!!! NIGHT AND DAY from last time. They were able to cause a short-lived tach attack almost immediately, and after some trial and error figured out an exact sequence of steps to take to bring one on. Something about “tickling” it in a certain place with their mapping wires, bringing my heart rate to a certain range of beats per minute artificially, elevating it to 360 beats per minute for only a second or two, then my natural arrhythmia would always take over. This was repeated for four hours while they mapped out my heart to find out the exact origins. At one point, my arrhythmia took over for an HOUR and they couldn’t get it to stop (huge change from last time, when they couldn’t start one at all!!) Frank went out and told Jon that if it didn’t stop soon, they would have to electrically cardiovert me (CLEAR!), but they didn’t end up needing to, and the doctor seemed annoyed when Jon told him Frank had even mentioned it. Poor Jon sat out there with eyes like silver dollars after that. Frank's announcement, combined with the fact that someone in another operating room had died and he witnessed the family’s grief, and he had a sort of nerve-racking time out in the waiting room.

The doctor ultimately found three points of origin for my arrhythmia – a larger one in my lower right atrium and two smaller ones in my upper left atrium – none of which were where he had previously anticipated. The three areas communicated to each other in a figure-8-like circuit, and he said the whole operating staff collectively groaned when they realized what they were dealing with; this sort of point of origin tends to move around on them as they burn, going away but then cropping up in a different spot, which is exactly what happened with mine. After chasing and burning the hell out of the larger spot, they were no longer able to bring on an attack and called it a success. Having your heart cauterized internally feels almost exactly like how you’d imagine, PS. Super uncomfortable (like extreme heartburn, go figure) despite the fact that Frank administered a delightful cocktail of Fentanyl and Versed as soon as it became certain they were definitely going to ablate.

My right atrium!

The cluster of red dots at the bottom are where they burned.

I feel GREAT. Even immediately afterward, I couldn’t believe the difference in how I felt compared to last time, and I don’t just mean my spirits (I was sort of devastated when the first surgery failed). My groin was sore, but didn’t throb and give me deadleg like it did last time – apparently last time they had to puncture three times and this time they got it right on the first attempt, so I’m sure that explains that. When the nurse helped me to stand for the first time, I got right up and shuffled around with barely any discomfort. Last time I almost passed out. The doctor was concerned that I’d have lots of heart pain, considering the amount of burning they did, but I haven’t felt anything. Still, he kept me for several more hours for observation and gave me an ultrasound to check on the swelling. My only complaint, really, has been the allergic reaction I had to the defibrillator pads.

I have another welt the same size on my chest. I slept pretty much all day today, but it’s hard to tell if that had more to do with the procedure yesterday or the copious amounts of Benadryl I’ve been taking to keep the itching at bay.

Anyway, c'est fini. Yay modern medicine!!!!

See also:
Part 1 of ?
Part 2 of ?
Part 3 of ?
Part 4 of ?
Stuff I Distinctly Remember Saying During the Operation
The last post about my heart (I promise this time)


  1. Jessie!!! I also happy for you!! I am seriously almost in years. That is such good news! I've been super discouraged with my heart lately and you just have me the hope I needed. Even if it takes 4 more tries, it's possible. Yay Jessie! Wish I could give you a hug!

  2. Sounds great. Glad to hear you made it through safely. Can only imagine the look on Jon's face face when he was told you might need to be cardioverted. I've watched the procedure a few times but its different when the patient is a loved one.

  3. Usually I am quite stoic in these situations, but with all the families around me it was tough. One group was crying,hugging,and calling loved ones with the bad news, and that was pretty unsettling. The other family was trying to find ways to pay for some huge bill, and were equally devastated. Now I know exactly how much savings and space on credit cards they have. Great day until Dr Z came to talk to me and say everything went well. I suppose this means I am grateful for my Sugardumpling.