Living In (and with) Fear

This is the hard one to discuss for me personally. It is not common knowledge and I share it a little more as time goes on.

2 months after my open heart surgery, I started getting arrhythmia issues. Let me take a moment to back up here… The day I went to the hospital, I could feel something in my throat and the top of my stomach. It felt as though I was having a bit of a panic attack. What it turned out to be is Ventricular Tachycardia (VT). VT can turn very quickly into Ventricular Fibrillation (V-Fib). V-Fib is deadly. Apparently, I was blessed with the ability to feel, very distinctly, every single time my heart beats irregularly. The unfortunate part is that the slightest arrhythmia feels the same as VT to me.

So back to the arrhythmia issues. As soon as I felt the same feeling as before for the first time after the surgery, I instantly went into a panic. I rushed to my Electrophysiologist (He is the heart rhythm specialist). He fitted me with a 30 day Holter (wearable ECG) and explained that I was having what are referred to as PVC (Premature Ventricular Contractions). He then informed me that PVC could result in sudden cardiac arrest.

Let me give a moment to let that sink in. It took me a while as the shock took hold. Basically, every time I would feel an abnormal heartbeat, there was a chance that it was going to be the very last one. I spent the next 3.5 months with that little tidbit of information lodged in my brain. I would have these PVC episodes between 10 and 50 times per day (still do). Basically, if the Ventricle fires just a split second too soon, it will backfire your heart and you die.

After my heart had healed enough from the double by-pass, they performed an Electrophysiology study where they run catheters into your heart from your groin. Turns out, I was only have occasional PVC but I was having a lot of PAC (Premature Atrial Contraction) which are benign. The occasional PVC were timed at a point that the Doctor told me I could go home and live my life without any further fear of suddenly dying.

They then fitted me with the Implantable Loop Recorder I outlined in another article to monitor me.

Here I go sounding like a broken record, but this could have all been avoided had I taken better care of myself.

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