It will be three years this April since I had heart surgery. I know. I AM a Wild Rider, but I had a problem with PVST’s which cramped my style. After the last one left me reeling for days, I made an appointment with a cardiologist to get the dang thing fixed.
Dr. Oza peeked into my room twice before coming in.
“Are you Susan Lindau?”
“Yep, that’s me.”
“Really! I looked at your birth date and was looking for someone much older-looking.”
What a charming man. An intelligent man. A man whose judgment I could trust.
He explained that most people have an electric system in their heart like fingers on a hand. A normal pulse starts at the palm and runs out to the fingertips. In my case, one of the pathways was linked. Think of the tip of my thumb and forefinger touching like I am giving you the “okay” sign, only it was not okay. In fact, it really sucked. Every so often the beat would leap into that circular pathway and my rhythmic heart rate would soar. It was like house music on speed with a gigantic woofer. Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom.
DJ Kelly Smash dropping the bass…
He described an invasive procedure called a catheter ablation. They would insert three wires on either side of my groin. Then they would send a jolt to my heart to get it rockin’ and rollin’ in PVST mode. Once it started galloping, they would map the pattern. My messed up electrical system would be revealed.
Then he would cauterize, slash, burn, or in other words, trash the pathway. After a few weeks of healing, a wall of scar tissue would block the electric pulse.
I had heard horror stories of how difficult it could be to get the heart into PVST rhythm for this procedure. My friend’s heart had been zapped for hours. I told my doctor that I believed in positive thinking and that it would go into hyper-drive after the first jolt. He smiled and said that the patients who had a good attitude had the best results.
Thrilled to think that I would never have another incident, I booked the date for the procedure.
He handed me a pamphlet to read and said he would see me there.
I admit it. I never looked at it. Never even Googled it. I didn’t want to freak myself out.
After a stress test and a few EKG appointments, the big day arrived.
I remember the nurse asked me a few questions as she filled out a form. She set it on the table next to my bed.
I can read upside down.
Under “Reason for surgery,” it said, “Risk of death.”
Before I had much of a chance to think about it, they put me on amnesia and truth serum drugs. Yeah, I know. There is such a thing!
As they wheeled me to surgery, they joked about how they would ask me a lot of personal questions, but I wouldn’t remember a thing. That freaked me out more than knowing that my PVST could have been fatal!
Hours later, I woke up feeling great.
My doctor beamed when making rounds and checked in on me. He said, “You were right. Your heart went into PVST on the first try.”
My friends stopped by later that afternoon. One of them brought a gift of socks so my feet would keep warm. “Hey, look,” I said and whipped the coverlet back to reveal the ugly hospital socks, “They already gave me some.” Yes. The truth serum was still in my system. I gave out waaaay too much information for the next several hours.
Before being released, I was given a set of instructions. Someone to watch me for the first 48 hours was a new precaution. Looking back, I think they may have been alarmed at how hard my heart pumped when in PVST.
I was still spaced out the next morning. Danny had a meeting in Denver and I insisted that he go.
Then I remembered that I was supposed to have someone around to watch me.
I dialed my Italian friend. She agreed to be on call in case I started bleeding out. She would have to put pressure on the site if she found me passed out on the floor. Hey. I am a writer and have an over-active imagination.
Somehow, I survived.
Months later, I went to a dinner party at her home.
After regaling the guests with my story about the successful procedure, her husband stood and started laughing.
“So Angie says to me, ‘I have to go out. You might get a call from Susie. If you do, you have to go to her house and put your hands next to crotch, here and here.’”
‘Here and here.’” He pressed a hand on either side of his groin.
‘Are you sure?’
She said, ‘Yes. Just hurry over there if she calls and don’t leave the house for any reason.’
I was afraid to leave the room thinking the phone would ring and I wouldn’t hear it,” he said, “but it was a quiet morning….”
We laughed and teased him that there could be advantages to having a home office.
To read Part I of my story, click here. Some of the facts about heart disease will shock you.
It’s not too late to give to the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women fundraiser or click the link on my side bar. I will add you to my blogroll. We’ve raised $250 so far. Thank you so much to those who have already donated!
Are you taking care of your heart?