After The 3rd Ablation
My hopes had been so high for this surgery to be the one to “fix” my heart condition that when I awoke and my wife relayed to me what had transpired, I was devastated and didn’t know how I was going to live a life full of pain and exhaustion anymore. Or how I could force that life upon my wife.
I was released 7 or so hours later. To go home to contemplate the next step in my aggressive stance on how to give myself and my family a better quality of life. My EP wanted me to go back to Corlanor again to see if it would help at all. I agreed at first. But it didn’t take more than a day of being back on Corlanor for me to remember why I refused to continue taking in the first place. The side effects were immediate and disabling.
I emailed my EP and told him I would not be taking them anymore and that I was more interested in scheduling the next procedure. He wanted to have an actual appointment with me to talk it over in person. On the day of that appointment, I was anxious and excited. Knowing that this surgery was going to be intense, but possibly life altering for my loved ones and me.
Luckily I have advocated for myself and my health with all of my physicians. My EP was very comfortable with this and trusted that I knew my body. We had eliminated all other possible heart conditions. On that day at that appointment, we reiterated the facts and how this next surgery was going to be approached. As it was, I was going to have to wait over two months because he wanted to have a whole day available for my surgery.
We went over the risks. A balloon would be inflated between my heart and the phrenic nerve and the SA node ablated epicardially laparoscopically, through an incision going under my breastbone. I would also have incisions made on the left and right side of my groin area, giving access to the femoral veins. For internal access to the heart laparoscopically.
He checked my charts and EKG’s one last time and said,”Well, you are in the right place, with the right doctor to get this taken care of.” I said, “I believe that.” He reassured me he was going to do his best. I said, “Let’s do this.” And that was that.
My 4th Cardiac Ablation
So on the day of my 4th ablation (the 3rd to my SA node), was eager, hopeful, and a little scared. I was also nervous that my doctor wouldn’t be able to fix the problem. Not from any fault of his, but because of the issues with my heart. I figure that’s normal when you’ve lived with something for so long and have been on a lifelong journey with a condition.
Long story short, I was put completely under general anesthesia for this surgery. It was very long. Approximately 11 hours. Ablations are usually done as an outpatient procedure but because of the nature and length of this one, I was already scheduled to stay overnight.
I had all of the sticky pads (for monitoring and defibrillation) put on me after walking to the operating room. Which I believe I’ve said before is awesome (the operating room)! I’m a bit of a geek/treky/nerd, so all of the really cool technology is just so fascinating!
Anyhow, after all that, I am helped with laying down. Not soon after the anesthesiologist puts me to sleep.
Next thing I knew I was waking up in recovery. What’s scary about this part of the experience is that I woke up in excruciating pain. Jumping to the part when my doctor comes in and goes over what has occurred, he successfully placed the balloon and protected my phrenic nerve and ablated the SA node epicardially. But here’s the odd bit, my SA node regenerated at the bottom of my heart! What the heck!? My doctor said it is a very rare occurrence and it caught him off guard.
Even odder, the darn “new” SA node has the same issue as the ablated one. It’s still too fast in general and tachycardic. So because of this, he put in the pacemaker. He didn’t want to continue on in surgery to try to ablate the “pop up” SA node and he wanted to see how I fared with this new SA node. So he left it with the knowledge that the pacemaker would control it and make life better.
Okay, back to the excruciating pain. It turns out there was a lot of inflammation in the pericardium (pericarditis) due to the insertion of the balloon between my heart and the phrenic nerve.
Every time my heart rate increased beyond 85 and/or my pacemaker kicked on, I felt like I was being stabbed in the chest. It was horrifying. I was still under the influence of the after effects of the anesthesia and couldn’t process that it was a natural response to the trauma my internal features had just endured.
My doctor came and saw me the next morning and clarified that the pain was due to inflammation. I was started on a strong anti-inflammatory, was given the usual antibiotics given after a procedure, and pain meds.
The pacemaker specialist came in and tested my pacemaker. I received a monitor (sort of like a phone without the buttons) for my device so that the doctor and the specialist can have access and check how my device is working at all times.
I actually sleep with it next to my bed. I don’t carry it with me throughout the day. I could if for some reason they wanted to monitor me. This monitor even allows me to have “virtual” appointments while I’m asleep. Really cool stuff!! Although, it would be even cooler if I had access to the information.
Now, healing. Not just from the inflammation around my heart, but from the many incisions made to do the surgery. The largest being the pacemaker placement.