I made it! Yep. I survived.
I went in bawling and thinking I was going to die. Legit. I put my papers in order, said goodbye to everyone (even though they didn’t really know it) and said my prayers.
But, I’m here!
The weird thing is, I prepared for only two possibilities: heart repair, or death. So when neither of those happened I found myself at a bit of a loss for what comes next.
While they explain to you that you might have a stroke, a heart attack, damaged nerves, a hole in your heart, so many things – they never tell you that in order to advance the procedure your heart needs to produce what they are looking for.
Mine didn’t. After all that horror – and I do mean horror – my heart couldn’t do its one job so they could fix me. While the procedure offered little pain, it was the epitome of that horrible shivery gag feeling when you see bugs crawl up people’s noses in movies.
I felt very vulnerable as I was nude top and bottom, alternating, fully aware and not sedated at all. The catheter insertions on either side of my groin were the only pain and very brief, but you can feel them in your veins like worms under your skin. You can feel them move in your heart and then begin to shock your heart from the inside, over and over again as they map all areas. When that didn’t work to produce what they needed, they injected me with Isopro – an adrenaline like medication that shoots your heart into hyper drive.
I’m on the freezing table. I’m strapped down, unable to move. My heart is racing 200bpm and I’m trying so hard to keep calm and keep my breathing under control while slowing my tears. Just as I come down from the medication and tell myself it is okay, they hit me again. And again. And again. By this time, my chest is burning, breathing hurts, and I’m fighting the urge to vomit. I tell them I am going to throw up, and they give me zofran to ward it off. One more time we go.
They maxed me out on the medication. My heart did not do what they needed it to do to successfully complete the procedure. I had failed. Went through all that fear, anxiety, and horror, and they did nothing.
I’m home and almost completely recovered. My heart has not went into tachycardia since. They said there is a chance that all they did may have reset my heart temporarily. I’m off medication still.
I’m staying off medication unless I have to go back on. I’ve gained 30lbs, and am puffy as all get out – it’s the heart medication look. Classic.
I get to live with this as long as I can take it, and then when I can’t any more: try again.
I don’t really see that happening.
What I am choosing as my take away from this experience is this: My heart is strong. So very strong. They maxed out meds – they taxed the crap out of it – and it didn’t give up. I am choosing to no longer be afraid of every skipped, missed, or rapid beat. It will do what it wants and I will live my life knowing for all my heart’s faults it does its job.
I have a couple more weeks before I can resume full activity and I am spending that time determining what I wish 2020 to look like while taking into account that I will spend a good portion of 2020 dealing with the financial, physical, and emotional consequences of 2019. It’s strange to see a near year as not a fresh, new start as I usually do. It feels like a year of clean up. Of consequence. While I’m not starting it with a fixed heart as I’d hoped, I am starting it with a hope and freedom from the restrictions that have lost me so much life this last year. For all that, I am grateful.