Four weeks ago I started having episodes of bradycardia. I went to the ER for an infection in my eyelid that wasn't healing with oral antibiotics. They gave me IV antibiotics but they were more concerned that my heart rate wouldn't climb out of the 40s. They admitted me. My heart rate returned to the 70's and after 2 days they discharged me and told me to stop taking the blood pressure medication I had been taking for six years. Three days later my heart rate dropped to 32 and I spent the day in the ER. The following Monday I was able to see the Physician's Assistant at the office of the cardiologist who I had seen in the hospital when I was admitted the previous week. She put me on a Holter Monitor that sent real time heart data to their office. The next day I awoke and my heart was running between 165 and 185, I was in A-Fib with RVR and the Dr's office called me and told me to call an ambulance. I was just discharged from the hospital a week ago, after having had a pacemaker inserted on Thursday and a re-surgery on Friday when it was discovered by X-ray that the leads were too short. I was doing swimmingly Friday morning, doing fine on Tylenol and not experiencing undue discomfort. However, they went back in on Friday early afternoon, and I was REALLY hurting when I awoke after that second surgery at the same site. In addition, my entire shoulder and my left-hand scapula were seriously hurting. They put me on 2 mg of Dilaudid and that helped considerably with the pain. Originally, they were going to discharge me on Friday, then they thought they would send me home on Saturday. I was still in too much pain to go home, and on Sunday I asked to stay one more day. They agreed. That night while in the hospital and on oral heart medication, I had a 52 minute episode of A-Fib with my heart rate between 145 and 155. My nurse tried to tell me that I was causing the episode because I was anxious. I didn't feel anxious, but given that she had told me earlier that my Pacemaker wouldn't allow my heart to go above 130 (and she had been a cardiac nurse for 25 years and she KNEW what she was talking about), I did get anxious and confused. I had been sure that the cardiologist told me that since I had brady/tachycardia syndrome, the pacemaker would ensure that my heart rate would not go below 60, so however aggressively we had to treat the A-Fib, I would run no risk of my heart stopping. She confused me, and furthermore, for those 52 minutes I thought my PM couldn't be working right. I was scared that they would have to go in a third time. The only way they got rid of the A-Fib was with an IV dose of the heart medicine, which they had given me orally about an hour before the A-Fib experience. I woke up the next morning afraid to go home. The rep from Boston Scientific came to see me, and she confirmed what I had thought was true; protection against bradycardia, but the tachycardia and A-Fib had to be treated with medication. I saw a Nurse Practitioner from my cardiologist's office who said I could go home, but I wanted to talk to my doctor. He was very nice about it, but he said I had nothing to be afraid of; that tweaking the A-Fib medication was part of the process, and no one is where they're going to end up eventually med-wise when they leave the hospital. He assured me there is absolutely no possibility of a life-threatening event (although they didn't start the blood thinning meds last Tuesday); and I pulled up my big girl panties (I'm 71, so I've been a big girl for a while) and was embarrassed and agreed to come home. I googled recovery from PM surgery and found a small support group for people with pacemakers, and was so very gratified to read that I'm not the only one who became fearful about having this implanted and what it means for my future. I don't feel like such a crybaby now. I started back to work yesterday and while I would have loved to have taken another week, it's probably better for me to get back in the saddle and get my mind off of this very unexpected medical surprise. There's no support group like EX and it was killing me that there was some kind of glitch that wouldn't let me sign in here with my password and wouldn't send me an email to let me change my password. It finally got fixed so here I am to tell my sad tale and to hear from my beloved friends who know I'm NOT a big crybaby most of the time.
Now, do you want to hear the weirdest thing ever? When I woke up with the AFib on Tuesday, the 18th of February, I got a text from my daughter Jen, who had taken my son-in-law, Johnny, to the stand-alone ER down the street from us at 6:45 a.m because they thought he was having a heart attack. Right after I got that text was when the cardiologist's office called to tell me to get to the hospital immediately. I had to call an ambulance, and they took me to the best hospital for cardiology, Chippenham Hospital. My granddaughter left school and came to sit with me while Jen was with Johnny. They determined he was in Congestive Heart Failure and they would be bringing him to Chippenham to admit him. They were admitting me, and said they were taking me to room 421. They wheeled me out of the ER cubicle, and turned the corner and then left me there for a few minutes and called false alarm and moved me back into the ER cubicle. Kennedy (my granddaughter) said wouldn't it be funny if they bumped you from that room for dad? And that's exactly what happened. When I went down for my second pacemaker surgery, it was done in the cath lab where Johnny was also having a heart catherization to see if ther4e were any blockages in his heart, which they knew was only pumping at 25% capacity. She said it was the weirdest thing; she could see the patient roster -- her husband's name was there, and her mother's name was right above his. He was on the fourth floor and I was right below him on the third floor. At least we were in not only the same hospital, but the same wing of the same hospital. I actually got to go up and visit him 3 times. He's in worse shape than I am and he's only 50, but he's doing much better and is going back to work next week. We are a very blessed family.
Given all the time I took off (almost the whole month of February) I doubt I'll make it to VA Beach in May, but I have a room reserved, so I'm not going to make up my mind until the last minute about EX 8. Thank you for being here, dear friends, and thank you for listening to this very long tale of woe. (They kept asking me if I was short of breath, and I said well, of course I'm always short of breath - I have COPD!)
All my love,