Tuesday, May 07, 2013

My Ticker

I blog for my kids.  I really do.  I want them to have a complete record of their childhood.  I want them to know how much I love them and how much I enjoy being with them.  That is really, really, really important to me.

I was thinking about our blog the other day, though, and I realized that I pretty much stick to blogging about the good, fun, parts of life - vacations, celebrations, milestones, school programs, etc.  I skip over all of the bad days and trials of life.  Who wants to remember all of that???

However, I am fearful that my kids will grow up and read their blog books and think that life was always hunky-dory.  In my attempt to focus on the positive, I may, inadvertently, paint a picture of a an easy life.

So... I thought that I would blog about a recent trial so that my kids will not feel like they are all alone when they go through rough spots in their adult lives.  I want them to know that Wade & I experienced suffering, pain, and loss just like everyone else.

As a child, I remember my heart racing at various times.  I didn't know how to explain it to my mom, so I would say that my "heart hurt."  She took me to a the pediatrician and then a pediatric cardiologist to try to figure out what was going on.  I guess that they were speculating that I had episodes of SVT, because they had me where a cardiac monitor in the 2nd grade.  They were never able to catch the arrhythmia on the monitor, and the episodes were few and far between throughout my childhood and adolescent years.

In nursing school, I remember learning about cardiac arrhythmias.  When I read about SVT, I put together the pieces of the puzzle and diagnosed myself.  SVT is an arrhythmia caused by an abnormal electrical conduction pathway in the heart.  The heart rate is very fast (mine was between 200-220 beats per minute) whenever the heart is in this rhythm.  It is typically caused by stress, caffeine, sleep deprivation, certain medications, physical exertion, etc.  I was never able to identify my triggers and experienced SVT at all different times.  There didn't seem to be a rhyme or reason.

Throughout my adulthood, I would have maybe 5-6 episodes a year of SVT and they would all last under 20 minutes.  For whatever reason, they started happening much more frequently this December/January/February.  On February 25th, I went into SVT for 30 minutes (longer than usual), and on the 26th it lasted for 3 hours.  I went to the ER when I realized that I wasn't snapping out of the rhythm like I usually did.

In the ER they gave me medication to bring my heart rate down.  After two doses, my heart rate was under 100.  Yay!

I was admitted to the hospital overnight because my cardiac enzymes were elevated - my first ever hospital stay that did not involve having a baby.  I learned that it is much more fun to be an OB patient than to be a cardiac patient.  I was soooo sad to leave the hospital without a new baby in my arms.  ;)

I went home on medicine to try to keep my heart in a normal sinus rhythm.  However, the medicine made me feel really bad (tired, out of it, etc.) and within a few weeks of starting the medicine, I had two more episodes.  (The heart rate on the BP cuff says 199, because that was the maximum that it would read.  When I checked my pulse manually, it was around 220 beats per minute.)
 I went to see another cardiologist/electrophysiologist and he told me that I had two options.  I could take a higher dose of the medication (which would mean that the side effects were even worse) or have a cardiac ablation performed.  After several days of prayer, I decided to do the ablation and scheduled it for April 5th.

I tend to be a bit of a pessimist, so I was, of course, convinced that I was going to die on the table.  I wish I were kidding, but I was almost positive that I would not live to see April 6th.  I was a full-blown hot mess in the days leading up to the procedure!  I kept giving Wade instructions that started with, "When I die on Friday, make sure that you _____."  Poor guy - I'm sure that I was a joy to live with.  ;)  I even spent the day before my procedure scrubbing the grout in my kitchen.  When Wade asked me what I was doing, I went into a 10 minute long explanation about how I didn't want for people to think that I was a bad housekeeper when they came for the visitation after my funeral.  I was totally serious, too.  Total head case.  Geesh.

While I was cleaning the grout, I was trying to figure out how I was going to repay everyone that would be helping our family in the coming weeks.  I HATE any kind of debt - financial or otherwise.  I despise feeling like I owe someone something.  If someone does something for me, I feel like I have to repay them in some way.  I was plotting in my head gifts and tokens of appreciation that I would need to buy for all of those people, then I had this epiphany.  It was like the Lord Himself was speaking to me.  I felt Him say, "This is the Body.  This is how I planned for my people to take care of each other."  I decided, in that moment, to let it go.  I needed to let go of the notion that I had to repay all of the people who were going to love on us.  It was hard for me to do, but I made a conscious decision at that point to release those feelings of being in debt.

I went in for the procedure (I refused to call it surgery - "procedure" sounds much less daunting) on April 5th.  I was a nervous wreck in the hours leading up to the actual ablation.  Wade and Leah worked hard to distract me and keep me calm.  I am certain that my nurse would have called for a psych consult, if it weren't for them.  ;)

They wheeled me back to the OR and prepped me for the ablation.  I was awake for the procedure, and could feel everything that happened.  So weird.  It was a cardiac cath procedure, so there wasn't a big incision or anything.  I mostly just felt a little pain when the wires were going in and an odd sensation of them manipulating my heart.  They sedated me when they were actually using the laser to destroy my extra electrical pathway.  They didn't want me to move, which would cause the laser to destroy extra tissue. 

I fell asleep and woke up to the nurses saying, "Oh no!  Oh no!  OH NO!"  I, of course, figured that I was dying.  Obviously.  I got up enough courage to ask, "Is everything okay?" through the surgical drape that was across my face.  One of the nurses came over to me and calmly said, "Oh, sorry.  We were watching a youtube video that has gone viral of a baseball game.  This guy moves out of the way and his girlfriend gets hit in the face with a ball."


They were watching youtube videos while there were wires in my heart.  Awesome.

I should point out that I hadn't told them that I am a nurse.  I wanted to, at that point, but I refrained from telling them that I was flabbergasted at their lack of professionalism and that they were a disgrace to the nursing profession.  After all, they were still in control of the wires in my heart.  ;)

I survived the procedure, and lived to tell about it.  I had to lay flat for 6 hours after leaving the OR.  That was torture for a fidgety person like myself.  A friend asked for a picture, so I texted the selfie below.  Ha!  I know that I look horrific, but I can assure you that I felt worse.  It was driving me nuts to have to be so still!

Even though the procedure was much worse that I thought it would be, the recovery was better.  I went home the next morning.  I had to lay low (not climb stairs or pick up Owen - the worst part) for 3-4 days and then I was fine to go back to day-to-day life.

My sweet in-laws helped my boys make me a banner and pick out flowers to welcome me home.  :)

My doctor said there is a 95% chance that I will never experience SVT again.  Praise the Lord!  I know that this was a relatively small health issue compared to what some people experience, but it was a big hiccup in my life.  I am grateful to my mother-in-law and father-in-law who swooped in to take care of my kids.  They bailed us out big time!  I was also so overwhelmed by all of the people who ministered to our family.  Several friends brought meals.  Several more friends sent restaurant gift cards.  I got TONS of texts and well wishes, many with specific verses that my friends were praying over me.  I was moved to tears on more than one occasion.  I felt so blessed to be surrounded by a strong support system during a difficult time.  It was such a comfort to know that there were people going out of their way to love on us.

I have endured much more difficult trials in life, and I am certain that greater trials are to come.  This bump in the road was tough, though, and I am glad to be on this side of it.  :)


Matt and Cindy Fleharty said...

I'm glad you're on this side of it too, and hey - you have super clean grout! Love ya, friend!!!

Leslie said...

OMGosh! So glad everything went well for you!! I can only imagine what a mess you were. Poor Wade! So happy you are still with us, sweet friend!;) Since I wasn't able to pray for you that day (since I had no idea) I will sing praises today.;) Miss you!

Honey said...

I love to read your blog and I think you were wise to include this one. I prayed for you and am so glad you are good to go!