On Monday, as many of you know, I went into the Cardiovascular Center at the U of M, to have an ablation. That’s where the doctors go in and zap/cauterize the area of the heart that is misfiring electrically. I had a previous ablation in May, but was proven to be unsuccessful. This round, we were extremely hopeful that it would work. I went into the procedure having numerous PVCs (extra beats in the lower chambers of the heart), and so it seemed as if it was the perfect scenario. There was a bit more risk to this procedure than the last, and I was at a much higher risk for needing a pacemaker implanted during the procedure, but I woke up with none!
The procedure lasted about 5 hours, though between prep and recovery it was a lot longer, but some of the first words I remember hearing was “IT WORKED.” And it did! While on that metal table, the doctors were able to find the place that was misfiring and zap that sucker. Immediately, my PVCs STOPPED. Not a one. Nada. Zilch. I can only imagine what went on in that OR room when that happened! They monitored me for 45 minutes and I never had another PVC. It was a complete success! Waking up in the recovery room, I remember feeling AMAZING. I no longer felt those extra beats. I couldn’t feel my heart skip. They didn’t take my breath away. It was done. I could’ve cried!
When I woke up, I was told that not only did the ablation work, but that I only had to lay flat for 4 hours! I thought YES! I’ve got this! (Last time it was 8 hours flat). My catheter sites didn’t want to stop bleeding, so that was a process in and of itself, but once they did, I thought okay, here we go! Because I’ve had so many procedures done through my groins, the doctors had a hard time getting the catheters in. They said the amount of scar tissue was incredible and they had to use large catheters to get into my veins and arteries.
A few hours later, I wasn’t feeling great. I felt my heart doing some fluttering again. I peaked over at the heart monitor and sure enough, my heart was throwing extra beats – three in a row – in the top chambers. Then the PVCs started. I told my nurse that I was feeling a bit off and she said sure enough, the beats are back. Thankfully not as frequently, but it was too good to be true. And, because of the large catheters, I had to now lay flat for 8 hours. It was a devastating 15 minutes to hear that all at once.
After surviving the 8 hours flat, which I know doesn’t seem that long, but after laying flat on a metal operating table for 6-7 hours, then on a hospital bed for 8, by 3:00am, when I could finally get up, my back had had it. It really becomes a mental game. Walking never felt so good in my life! Merely just sitting up, is something I no longer take for granted. It’s amazing the things in life that give you perspective!
By morning, I was having a LOT of extra beats. They called for an EKG, and indeed, it was true. Thankfully I wasn’t having near the number of PVCs I was having before the procedure, with most being PACs. But now time will tell. My heart has been through a lot and they said it needs time to heal again. Those extra beats could still go away, so there is hope! And their goal right now is to just reduce the number of extra beats – yes, we’d love for them to all go away, but that’s not a feasible goal at this point. But reduction is, so that is their aim. They mentioned performing the ablation again, but they want to wait at least 3 months, to see what my heart does.
The hardest part though, was having that taste of healing. Those few hours were incredible – no words to describe it. After all that we’d been through, to be told IT WORKED, was an absolute miracle. It has literally been years since we’ve heard those words. But then to only go right back to where we were? We are trying to remain hopeful that this too will pass, and that my heart will regulate itself again. But there is nothing that any human can do – it’s all in God’s hands. But it’s been hard.
I’ve been a little tearful over the fact that it hasn’t worked. Mazy has seen my tears, and ever so gently, she took her thumb and wiped the tears from my eyes. Which of course made me cry even harder, knowing that I’M supposed to be the one wiping HER tears away in life! It just didn’t feel like this was how life was supposed to be. But in that intimate moment, as hard as it was, it’s something I will forever cherish. She kept saying, “Mommy, it’s okay, I’m right here.” Oh sweet girl, you’ve been through far too much in your 4 years of life! It’s hard to tell her no, mommy can’t play Barbies right now, but when she sees me physically exhausted, she becomes the nurse. The caretaker. My snuggle buddy. Like I’ve said before, this girl will grow up to be a nurse or doctor some day!
Having that taste of healing felt magical. A gift that we honestly never saw coming. And I can’t help but think about the taste we get everyday, those glimpses of heaven, through our experiences on earth. Nothing will compare to life in heaven, but I feel God can give us those tastes of his redeeming work, right here, right now. Through miracles. As hard as it was to see that healing dissipate, we know that God allowed that to happen for a reason. And we PRAY that we will experience that again! We know I will always be in heart failure, but even in heart failure, there can be healing. And we pray that one day, we will experience that taste of healing again.
On a sidenote: we are “frequent flyers” as Dan would call it on floor 2A at the CVC at Michigan. From the person checking me in (gotta love Noreen), to the nurses, to the OR techs and fellows, there were many faces we recognized. And vice versa – they all wondered why I was back AGAIN! They recognized us to the point that a few asked where our daughter was! It has become a family affair for us at the U of M, which we never imagined happening. A large hospital, but a place that feels like home in a strange way. In fact, one nurse came in and said “Hey, it’s like we’re old high school friends!” You bet, girl! Same with the EKG tech – it was like we saw each other yesterday. To feel that love, that support, and to recognize faces, it’s truly a gift. We laugh and we joke around with them all. And sometimes I laugh too hard…I giggled at someone’s joke after my ablation and it made my artery bleed all over the place, to the point they had to change the sheets and my gown there was so much blood. Whoops! It just goes to show how much of a family those people are to me. A blessing in disguise.