Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The last post about my heart (I promise this time)

I know I said I was done talking about my heart. I know I know. But I had my follow up appointment a couple months ago and thought I should update the blog with what I found out, because it’s sort of interesting. Better late than not at all? Maybe? (Full disclosure: this post would have gone up much sooner but it got lost in my drafts.)

Before my ablation, I had three major complaints about my heart. First, it would race or beat abnormally out of the blue, often when I was just sitting around relaxing, sometimes causing me to black out. Second, I had exercise intolerance – my heart rate would skyrocket within minutes of even moderate exercise. And third, I had chest pains when I laid on my left side. I never mentioned that symptom on my blog because my doctor told me in my first appointment that it wasn’t related to my arrhythmia and I didn’t want to sound like a hypochondriac.

After my failed ablation, he diagnosed me with underlying atrial tachycardia (which explained the exercise intolerance) that originated too close to my natural pacemaker to attempt to fix. So now I had two heart conditions, one of which they’d failed to fix and one of which was incurable. Plus the mysterious heart pain.

BUT! I found out at my (hopefully) last appointment that what I ACTUALLY had the whole time was a subset of super-tacky called atrial FLUTTER. Symptoms of atrial FLUTTER include arrhythmia, exercise intolerance (!) and chest pains (!!!!!). One condition to explain ALL of my symptoms. So I’m fixed. 100%. All my complaints, even the ones my doctor didn’t think could be resolved by ablation.

Which begs the question, “Uhhh…..why didn’t he suspect atrial flutter earlier?” Well apparently atrial flutter is really rare in young patients. So rare that he didn’t even suspect it – so rare that when one of the techs first suggested it during my second mapping, he replied, “That’s not possible.” He admitted/apologized to me in my follow-up that that’s why my second electrophysiology study took so much time – he’d never heard of flutter in an otherwise healthy heart before, so he refused to ablate it until he’d successfully triggered it multiple times to be absolutely certain. Luckily my heart was cooperating that day, and it all worked out, and now I can walk up the stairs without having to stop and gasp at the top before composing myself enough to walk into the office, and I can sleep however I want without angina waking me up (I don’t think it was actually angina, I just wanted to say agina. ANGINA.).

Also, note that I said it was hopefully my last appointment. Apparently arrhythmias can sometimes regenerate in young patients. BUT, if it ever did, we know exactly how to fix it, so my doctor’s not worried about it and neither am I. OH, and here’s something that’s weird. I still regularly feel like a TACH ATTACK! is imminent, but with the pathway destroyed, it can’t get into that sustained abnormal rhythm. So my dummy heart is still trying, but it can’t go through with it. My doctor says that’s normal and I’ll continue to have those sensations forever. It feels sorta like when you’re driving and your car goes into a dip and your stomach lurches …except it’s in my heart.

That’s all.


See also:
Part 1 of ?
Part 2 of ?
Part 3 of ?
Part 4 of ?
Part 5 of FIVE!!!
Stuff I Distinctly Remember Saying During the Operation

1 comment:

  1. This is absolutely fascinating to me -- although I'm sure it's really scary for you! Glad they took care of this disorder!