Tales of Cardiac Ablation

I've been restored to health by the cardiac ablation I had 2 days ago! It was a highly scary and stressful thing for me, and they found TWO arrhythmias: a type of SVT called AV reentry nodal tachycardia and another one called inappropriate sinus tachycardia. They ablated the first and most troublesome one, but the other one is too close to the SA node so they left it alone and put me on Cardizem for rate control. No more beta-blockers! Hallelujah! The ablated part was what was making my heart rate fly up toward 200 anyway. So, so far I've had zero chest pain, which is new for me, and my pulse has hovered around 80. Before it lurked around 110-130. Seems like an excellent outcome to me.

And I'm trying to focus on that because the rest of the day was a circus. The procedure started 3 hours late, but most irritatingly the EPS lab nurses either deliberately lied to me or were bizarrely uninformed about what this procedure entailed. They said anesthesia would use Propofol, but not enough to necessitate intubation. But then the anesthesiologist came in and made me take out all the jewelry around my airway---and I did end up tubed. They said I would have "a little IV in my neck," and when I asked if it was an EJ they said no, it would be an IJ, for access to the heart in addition to bilateral groin sticks. I said, "No one mentioned central lines and intubation to me," and this nurse said, "It's not a central line. It's an IJ." (I just let invisible question marks float above my head at that point.) At some point someone also told me I wouldn't need a Foley because I'd pee right before the procedure and hadn't had any liquid for a good 12 hours by then.

So imagine my bitterness when I woke up with an extremely painful Foley (from which I now have a UTI that's kept me up all damn night), an awful sore throat, and a neck that felt like someone had energetically beaten it with a bat. When I changed the bandage over the central line site I saw the hole, and it is a BIG hole. My voice is still a little hoarse from the ET tube, too. Now, if someone had just been up front and said that all of these things would occur and would cause pain, I would have still hurt but not been angry. What was the point of this deception? I don't like it when providers lie to patients. And I wasn't even close to acting like a hysterical patient who didn't need extra stress.

They also failed to mention I would have to remove all my piercings, even the ones in my head. Happily I had thought to call and ask, because it took a few hours, an extra friend, and some hemostats to get all the metal out and replace it with plastic. I know, I should've thought of it, but I was thinking in terms of imaging and not of the real chance I'd be shocked (which I was, several times). Then I had to take out even some of the plastic ones because anesthesia felt I would aspirate them and die.

So as an aside, string trimmer line works great for retaining piercings. I got some skinny enough to look about like 16-gauge piercings. I'm thinking of leaving some at work for people who need it. It's like a dollar for a lifetime supply.

I was slated to stay overnight in the hospital, but my family are mutants who come out of anesthesia at the speed of light, get dressed, and sit on the bed tapping our feet impatiently. My friend who drove me said it was pretty freaky even though I'd warned her. So after my bed rest was over I just had to wait for discharge paperwork and I got to come home! That was a nice surprise. I don't like staying in hospitals.

All in all I'm just slow moving and have pain in my throat, neck, and femoral access sites, but I'm sure it's on its way out. I'm surprised there's no chest pain.

And I'm VERY pleased they figured out what the heck was wrong with me and managed to fix most of it. I was at the end of my rope, and now I understand why, with two issues instead of one. It is not helpful for physicians to keep saying "this doesn't act like SVT" and "you shouldn't be having pain." I mean what response can you make to that? It feels like they're calling you a liar. Because I can totally just MAKE my heart rate sail up to 150 by thinking about it, I guess. But now I seem well situated to become energetic and able to work out, etc., and actually live my life (after these aches and pains go away).

Unless something dire changes, I'd have to say to anyone with SVT that they don't tolerate well at all that the ablation is worth it, because despite these exra painful things I can tell my heart is way better. Go heart!