Thursday, February 21, 2008

Matters of the Heart

Today I’m having blood work done. It’s in preparation for a cardiac ablation next week. You see, I’ve been having trouble with my heart - something called AV nodal reentrant tachycardia (AVNRT). Essentially, an extra pathway exists between the atrial and ventricular regions of my heart. Premature beats lead to erratic electrical impulses which circle through this pathway causing a rapid heart beat. I can be sitting in my chair, calm and relaxed, and suddenly my heart rate will jump to 200 beats per minute. I have no idea what triggers it. I know stress plays a role. But these episodes don’t always occur during times of stress. I’m supposed to be avoiding caffeine, alcohol and illegal stimulants (damn - no speed for me). But, avoiding caffeine is 1) not practical (decaf and night jobs don’t go well together) and 2) not curative. Plus my medication seems to be doing little other than giving me dizzy spells. So, my cardiologist (actually, he’s an electrophysiologist) is going to thread a catheter through my femoral vein and into my heart. He will find that aberrant pathway and zap those cardiac cells into oblivion. All that and a night’s stay in the hospital. What a lucky gal am I?!!

The procedure is relatively routine (at least for the specialist who performs it) and complications are few and far between. But complications can occur. Do you ever listen to the fast talking fine print on drug commercials? Complications include rare but serious side effects including infection, bleeding, deep vein thrombosis, acute need for a pacemaker and, oh, on very rare occasions, death. And there it is - death. A pacemaker I can live with. But death? Probably not.

Truth be told I have a greater chance of dying in a car wreck on the way to the hospital. But I've been in a car before. This is my first (and hopefully last) ablation. And , safe as it may be, that word - death - looms out at me; it floats above me like a Charlie Brown cloud ready to pour at a moment’s notice. Death. The cloud of death. I’m watching that cloud. I see it out of the corner of my eye. It knows I know it’s there. And I’m keeping it at bay. I don’t want to be drenched in public. Really, I don’t want to be rained upon at all.

And then there are matters of lesser importance; the death of my dignity. These people are putting a catheter into my leg; my inner thigh. Of all the places to have a team of people this is not one of them. I already did that for the birth of my children. I’d rather not do it again. I have visions of bumping into the ablation team after my procedure - probably downtown, someplace with lots of people. The team will see me. They’ll whisper and giggle. As I get closer they’ll start to chant, quietly at first then louder and louder. “She has cheesy thighs, she has cheesy thi-highs!” Second grade all over again - only with slightly different insults.

And there is yet another matter to contend with. When is my period? I don’t know. I’m not an obsessive menstrual documentarian who marks the date on the calendar each month. It happened sometime last month. I’m pretty sure it’ll happen again sometime this month. But pulleese not next week! I’ve made a deal with the universe. If I can start my period this week then I will document it faithfully from now on. I’ll even chart it with the pull of the moon if that is what it takes.

Indeed the universe may be listening. I’m feeling some menstrual twangs; those early abdominal signals of what’s to come. And that’s a good sign, right? It means the cosmos is on my side. It’s got me covered. And if menstruation is covered, well it stands to reason that the rest is too. So, I’m going shoo the cloud away, get my blood work done and get on with the rest of my day.

Don't forget to check out Love Thursday at Shutter Sisters! Today's photo inspiration courtesy of lizgrandmaison over at Flickr.


Anonymous said...

Best of luck and may the universe deal you an over-the-top winning hand on your procedure. Happy LT!

Anonymous said...

Nobody is requiring you to take Coumadin for a following 3 months to deal with the possibility of blood clots after the ablation? I've been reading a lot lately about ablations and I thought they were always followed by, if not also preceded by, Coumadin.

Shalet said...

I can't speak for after the procedure but I am not taking it before. Coumadin prevents clotting which is good when wanting to prevent deep thrombosis and/or atrial clotting. But, they also want the entry wound to heal and clot. So, coumadin is contraindicated during the actual procedure. I don't know what medications I'll be on afterwords - it depends on how the procedure goes.

Backpacker momma said...

Awesome awesome awesome picture. Good happy thoughts are being sent your way!!!

jennifer said...

I LOVE this picture. Thinking of you and sending healthy heart vibes your way. xoxo.