Wired for Life

mended heartIt 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.

I told him my “sad story” – everyone has one, right? – about my PVST’s.

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.

Kelly Smash 1

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.

Cue classical music.

800px-Tch_In_Charlotte

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.”

Whoa!

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.’”

‘Where?’

‘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.

my heart

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!

Orchestra photo from Wikipedia

Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia 

Catheter Ablation

Are you taking care of your heart?

108 thoughts on “Wired for Life

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  1. You’ve got a long way to go. You’ve developed the one thing that survivors have, the ability to take a potential personal horror story and make it not funny, funny but light while retaining the gravity of the situation. BTW I gave. You pushed me and I’m glad.

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    1. Did I wrangle you into it? I think it was that final arm twist that did it. Thanks so much Tom!
      I’m good. It’s been three years so I won’t get another PVST. I just have to keep exercising and stay healthy! So far so good! Played tennis today and will ski this weekend. I am a wild rider you know… 🙂

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    1. Ha! I waited for Heart Month to post it.
      You definitely owe it to yourself to get a physical. I am sure you are okay, but anyone can have high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol. We need to take care of ourselves so we can stay around for a long, long time!
      Great to “see” you!
      Thanks Michael!

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  2. It is hard to believe such an active go-getter like you could even remotely have a heart issue. I’m so glad to read that your operation was a success and that you can continue your wild ride through life! Too funny.. I think your friend was hoping you’d call;) Thanks for bringing the awareness forefront regarding heart month! xx

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    1. Thanks Barbara!
      I was born with it, so it was wonderful to have it fixed. Now I don’t have to worry when I am on Survivor or The Amazing Race! Kidding…
      That is the joke, that my friend waited near the phone and was bummed when it didn’t ring! Hahaha!
      I am just doing my part to get the word out there. So many women still worry about breast cancer killing them and it is heart disease that will do most of us in….

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  3. Well, I thought I posted a comment, but it went away, so if you get two posts from me, sorry.

    My first post was much more clever than this one, but I appreciate how you approached a very serious topic in a humorous way. No invasive surgery is ever easy and the risk of death will make any heart pump overtime.

    So glad you lived to tell about it and that you can share your experience in a fun and entertaining way.

    Stay healthy!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

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    1. I looked in my spam filter and there was nothing but spammers… sorry about that!
      Thanks so much Patricia! I guess that is my approach to life. I just keep on smiling and dance whenever I can!

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    1. I know! Thank God it worked and I will no longer have them. I was beginning to worry about having one at an inopportune moment.
      We still laugh about that! They are very good friends!
      Thanks so much!

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  4. I’m glad it worked for you on first try, and that the issue is corrected. I have a mitral valve issue that causes an arrhythmia, is a funny feeling, but not dangerous.

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    1. Most women never have their hearts checked out. It is cancer they are usually most worried about. But it is great to hear that they are healthy!
      Yep! I have not had any recurrence in the last three years so it is fixed. Yay!
      Thanks for coming by!

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  5. Whoa, Susie! What an ordeal you went through. And to make it funny takes talent. You were very brave. Smart not looking it up on the internet (something I would do for sure) And it looks like all that positive thinking paid off for you in a big way. Talk about counting your blessings!

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    1. Thanks Darla!
      I would have thought that I would at least look at the pamphlet they gave me, but I didn’t want to know the gory details.
      I am all fixed now and feeling great! I guess humor is my way with dealing with almost everything!
      Speaking of humor… I am trying to get my nerve up to blog a silly and lusty Valentine’s post!
      I hope I don’t offend anyone although it is tame compared to a lot that is out here…It cracks me up, so I think it’s okay…

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  6. And you manage to make this story funny? You amaze me! That’s why I adore you so. 😀 You are one fantastic shiny example for others. Attitude goes a long way.I can’t believe I missed some of your other stories. Crazy time I guess. Wow. Your story is a fantastic post for awareness!

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  7. This post really hits home, thank you. I would have ended it with “…from the bottom of my heart”, but that would’ve been a tad overdone, dont’cha think?
    As for myself, I am learning not to take my heart for granted. I quit smoking last April (22) and I’ve been running, watching what I eat and laughing more. Okay, that last part is the same as ever.

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    1. It was a heartfelt post which came from the heart. There are a million of them! I can only imagine that you laugh all the time!
      That is so great that you were able to quit. You are “on the road” to a very healthy life..
      Thanks Cayman!

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  8. OMG, Susie! What a nightmare! If I understood correctly, you weren’t awake during the procedure, thankfully. I am so glad about that. This just proves that you never know what other people suffer through. You are a very brave woman! But look at you now. Skiing, biking, hiking. There is no end to your activity. And no more heart pounding. What a scary experience. I’m just so happy for you and your family! 🙂

    P.S. Yay, I finally was able to leave this comment. I don’t know what happened Susie, but I’ve had problems visiting WordPress.com sites. I refused to give up! Big hugs to you and your family for what you’ve all been through!

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    1. I am so sorry about the comment thing! That is so weird.
      I was out cold, but conscious. They counted me down and I woke up in recovery. The amnesia drug must work to black a person out.
      I am so glad that my heart is fixed. Those PVSTs were horrific!
      Thanks so much Karen for taking the time to leave a comment!

      Like

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