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. Thanks Marie!
      It is important since it is news to most people that women are more likely to die of heart disease than men!
      I’ll never have another crazy PVST again at least! I do plan to keep taking good care of my heart.

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  1. Wow, that sounds very serious and amazing that you just knew it would take one try. No wonder you’re always up for a dance it explains a lot 😉 I would have been the same about the questions I wouldn’t remember, those cheeky hospital staff!

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    1. I wonder what they asked me or what I yammered on about…. Good thing the amnesia drugs worked. I was out of it for a couple of days and kept telling Danny, “I’m fine! I’m fine!” Later, I warned him that if I ever go through surgery again to make sure he talks to the doctor himself and doesn’t rely on me. My optimism could be dangerous!
      Thanks Catherine!

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    1. He cracks me up and still tells that story! Hahaha!
      Dr. Oza performs the same procedure every day and it is really routine for him, but I think if I hadn’t had the ablation, it would have taken a huge toll on my heart over time.
      Thanks Charles! I will keep on Wild Riding!

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    1. Every day is a blessing! I was told from the beginning that PVSTs were not life-threatening, but they can be. That really freaked me out.
      I know there is scar tissue in my heart now which can’t be good, but I will keep on exercising my heart muscle to keep it in shape by having all kinds of Wild Adventures!
      Thanks Renee!

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  2. Yesterday I just thought you liked snow. Today I find out you are a woman on a mission. Interesting story and I am of course very glad that the surgery went well. I think you make an interesting and important point that heart disease affects many more women than breast cancer, why aren’t there runs for the cure? I had no idea until I read this that 1-3 women would be affected by this. Mind boggling. Thank you for raising awareness, I hope your health continues to be good as well.

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    1. Thanks so much Jonathan! It is mind boggling.
      As far as fund-raising, I think they are in the infant stage compared to Komen Foundation. They have come a long way since last year and still have a ways to go in getting the message out there. It all comes down to money and most people make donations to breast cancer.
      We have to just keep trying to get the message out there!
      Thanks so much!

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  3. So good to hear you had the ablation! My daughter-in-law had a similar problem and the same procedure and has not been visited by one nasty palpitation since (five years). Kudos to you for sharing your story and all of this important information. Ride on, Susie!

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    1. Ride on! I love it!
      That is great to hear about your daughter-in-law! Dr. Oza said that if I didn’t have another palpitation or PVST in the next two years, I never would have another and that has been the case! Thank God.
      Thanks so much Patricia!

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  4. I’m glad you survived. The heart and brain are such difficult surgery areas due to the high importance of life/function. So is having the right doctor, hospital, etc. You are the perfect spokesperson! The studies, not done on women, have been known for over twenty years…unfortunately, this is old news, at least among people working in medicine(we knew of this in the 80’s). Money, it’s all about money, and how much money a company can make.

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    1. Why have there been absolutely no public service announcements about this? Money is right. The AMA suffers in that department, but eventually the word will get out and the money will come in. Then maybe we can change that statistic.
      Thanks Lilie!

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    1. Thanks so much Guapo! I giggled while I wrote it… 🙂
      Nope! Not once have I had another PVST or heart palpitation. Dr. Oza did a great job on my heart. I feel very confident in my heart health. Yay!

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  5. Wow … what a scary thing – glad that you’re recovering and everything went after all well – you’re so young too – you’re doing the right thing to slow down .. because we mostly only get one shot on life .. *smile – I got a second chance on life .. when they found my tumor … and after that my view on life changed completely – neither my body or soul will be the same again. You take care of your heart.

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    1. I am glad that you got a second chance!
      I have to admit that I have not slowed down. I just got back from tennis and will ski this weekend. Got to keep my heart in shape!
      I played tennis three weeks after the surgery and that was almost three years ago!
      Thank you!

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      1. I don’t sport will kill you *smile but I think everything has be in moderation – great news that you have been doing that well after you surgery …. I have friends that has been fit as fiddles and just PANG! Enjoy your skiing .. quite a few years since I was flying down hill. Have a great trip.

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    1. Yep, but I didn’t think about it too much. I knew it couldn’t be worse than the PVST’s!
      I’ve been motoring for almost three years without out recurrence so it worked!
      Thanks Piper!

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  6. Susie,
    Had no idea that you’d done the ablation thing and know exactly what you went through. Been there/done that a couple of times before the transplant. Glad to hear it is working well for you, but be careful anyway. Heart problems are so dangerous for women in today’s world, I think, because so much emphasis has been put on men’s cardiac health. Just recently I seem to see more attention given to the women’s side of this issue, but at present it only seems like the “light at the end of the tunnel”. Needs a lot more focus.
    Happy to see you bringing light to it, as, in my own minor way am trying.
    Paul

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    1. Thanks so much Paul!
      Yes. I don’t take my heart for granted, but exercise is the best thing for it. So I stay active with all my Wild Adventures. In the meantime I am doing my part to get the word out there!
      I am glad that you have been treated as well.
      Take care my friend!

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    1. Thanks Audrey!
      Nothing could slow me down. I played singles tennis less than three weeks after the surgery. 🙂 Well, I did slow down with a few ankle sprains and then there was a nasty hamstring pull last summer, but my heart? It is a muscle that needs to be exercised. I didn’t even worry when I polar plunged! Gotta keep on dancing!

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    1. I think we all have our weaknesses. Our bodies are not indestructible that’s for sure, in fact they can be downright fragile. I am trying to keep mine in good shape so it lasts!!!!
      Thanks Scott!

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  7. You’ve got so much crap on your sidebar, I had a hard time finding it. Finally, I figured it must be a big red dot. Found it!

    So, your Italian Friend split and left your fate to her husband? Great story, and a great pic of DJ Kelly Smash!

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      1. Thanks Ted and for paging through the crap!
        Yep, I am alive and very well. There wasn’t much risk in dying during the procedure, but they don’t always repair it the first time and for that I am very thankful! The PVSTs were causing damage.
        My friends still laugh at that story. I was in good hands so to speak! 🙂
        I love that photo too!

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  8. I donated a buck at the grocery store the other day. I am very proactive with my heart health – having a brother who had his 1st heart attack at 37 scared the beejeus out of me. I have my mother, my father and now my brother living with heart disease. Plus I have asthma – not a good mix to add in heart disease – so just be proactive. Happy Day:)

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    1. Wow! Renee you take care of yourself. That is so scary since it can be hereditary. Nobody goes through life without some body part breaking down. We just have to do our best keep ourselves healthy!
      Thanks so much!

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  9. Good Lord, you went through so much Susie – I am so glad you are OK! In fact you are a real firecracker aren’t you! Without our health, we lose so much wealth don’t we? I have a bad ticker too.

    My mother in law is having this same procedure March 5th, my wife and I are flying to Ontario and plan on being there with her before and after. The meds she is taking are helping this in a major way but she still wants the surgery – we can’t tell her what to do of course. Our trip also includes house hunting in the Vegas area… Big plans!

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    1. Wow! That sounds like quite a trip!
      Most of these doctors do these procedures routinely, so I am sure she will be okay. I hope that are able to fix it the first time. I will send positive thoughts her way!
      Thanks so much John and keep us posted!

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        1. Wow! A jolt that everyone would like to avoid! Glad you are doing well now David!
          Hey and I noticed that the email notifications of some of the blogs I follow were turned off. How crazy is that????

          Like

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