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New Guy, New WorriesNothing
Hello, everyone. I’m the new guy, Bill, and have some concerns and general questions for the group. My usual symptoms are skipped beats, sometimes coming every three or four beats, lasting several minutes
Twice within the past five weeks, I’ve been hospitalized for four days due to uncontrolled AFib. The first time, my hear returned to sinus rhythm fairly quickly, the second time, it was several hours. I’ll concentrate on the second visit, which just ended yesterday.
I’d gone to school Saturday morning at 9:30 to conduct a review session for my AP World History students (I’m a public high school teacher) in preparation for the upcoming AP exam, but after getting there the AFib began, slowly at first, but quickly ratcheted up to a full-blown episode. 911 was called, and I was quickly on my way in an ambulance.
I was in the ER by 10:00 that morning, surrounded by six to eight doctors and nurses all working feverishly. Details are a bit sketchy as my mind was a bit occupied, as you can well imagine, but there was talk of an emergency catheterization, which was called off as my blood work showed no signs of a heart attack. After several IVs and injections that helped calm down the AFib (heart rate was 120-140) I was admitted, sent to a room and put on a monitor. Sunday, they did an echocardiogram, and scheduled me for a catheterization Monday morning. Another sleepless night, this time with no food or water after midnight, but instead of the catheterization, they did a nuclear stress test, just as they had during the stay five weeks prior.
Two cardiologists looked at my nuke test results, and were concerned about the pictures of my lower heart, and scheduled a catheterization for the next morning (Tuesday). After yet another sleepless night in the hospital (does anyone ever get any sleep in a hospital room?), my regular cardiologist came to see me, and was puzzled by the decision to cath me, seeing no difference between yesterday’s test and the one from March, which was identical to one I’d had two years ago. Never the less, the procedure went ahead, and results were negative. I was discharged that evening, with no changes in medications, or in anything at all.
So here I sit, at my kitchen table, wondering why I spend so much time in the hospital with no apparent results. I was to have a loop recorder installed, but the doctor who did the cath (in fact, who has done all my caths and implanted both my stents) said that seemed superfluous as the purpose of the recorder was to determine I have AFib, which I clearly do. There was also mention of new medications, and possibly an ablation down the road. But other than that, no change in my meds, no advice on how to deal with further episodes or how to avoid them, and, to be honest, I feel a bit neglected and concerned. My questions to the group, then are: How do you deal with living with AFib? How do you contend with the possibility that episodes such as I had on Saturday might recur at any time? Are there any avenues I should pursue with my cardiologist? How do you kind folks stay calm when AFib hits for brief periods?
I feel badly coming here with so many questions as the new guy, but I was quite relieved to find this group as it helps alleve the feelings of being alone with this condition. I thank you all for your time, and wish you all good health, good living, and good friends.
Spencer, May 16, 2018 5:59pm EST
Bill - Let me sing you the song of my people... Sorry to hear about your troubles and I feel for you. You can read my story, but that will just probably scare you, so don't do that. What triggers AFib's? It is different for every person, some it is food, some its exercise, some it is freaking random (see me). Good thing is that you are in a rhythm now (we in the AFib business call that NSR - Normal Sinus Rhythm - you gotta learn the lingo, you know). I'd get an appt with your cardiologist and have them explain what is their plan and that you need some stability in your life. AFib is a long journey and many of us are still on their journey. We are just as confused, dazed, upset and frustrated as you are. This board is a good place to come get some info and also support. Take your wife/partner/friend/dog with you when you see the doc. Write down your questions... I do, but my doc just ignores that and does whatever he thinks is in my best interest minus my input. But I am special - also I am Abnormal and Tachy (see AFib jokes... you were supposed to laugh... got it... don't quit my day job).
How do you deal with the next AFib... just deal when it comes. I've spent so many days in the ER and ICU that I know their WiFi password and that I have a favorite room (#12). You have to live your life. Live it, love it and get out there. You know your body and you know when you are in distress and need to seek help. Get your family to understand what to do if something happens and where to go for help. My wife knows the way to the hospital ER really well. Develop a plan in your mind if you go AFibbing again.
Seriously this board is probably the best place to come to ask questions and no amount of questions will go unanswered. So, welcome to the club... I guess, sorry.
Waiting for my Sunrise.
EllenK, May 16, 2018 3:53pm EST
Welcome, Bill. Having heart issues can be such a scary thing! When my a fib episodes started I went to the ER everytime. After awhile I realized that they werent going to kill me & that, as long as I was on a blood thinner, I could do at home what they did there. Mostly I just made it through. I agree 100% with Jean's advice to have a good Electrophysiologist. (EP) I asked my EP under what conditions I should come in for & when I could stay home. He gave me helpful informaiotn.
When I was in the hospital last fall for A fib. the EP I was seeing was out of town. I saw 2 other Cardiologists who both gave me different advice about how to proceed & the advice from both was different than what the EP had told me at a previous office visit! It was scary & frustrating. I ended up getting a second opinion from an EP at another facility & it was the best decision. He encouraged me to TALK TO MY EP. He said, "I am sure the two cardiologists you saw in the hospital are good doctors but the EP specilizes in heart rhythm disorders. He deals with this kind of issue everyday. He is an expert in this field." I scheduled an appointment with my EP & talked things over with him. I ended up having an ablation in March & have been in normal rhythm since. I am grateful every day that I am not in a fib.
It was important for me to learn what triggers I had for a fib. I found that alcohol, caffiene & overeating could put me in an episode. (As well as thyroid issues.) I also had to learn relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and guided meditation. Those helped my anxiety with all of this.
Best of luck to you as you find the best plan for yourself.
Jeanamo815, May 16, 2018 12:23pm EST
We are glad to have you as the "new guy" in our forum and hope you will find some helpful information and support here. Our members share our experiences with a-fib and we learn a lot by doing so. A-Fib affects each person individually....and often a medicine or procedure that works for one may not work for another. However, we are all on the "a-fib journey" together and hope to help each other as much as possible in this forum. I can fully understand about your feeling of neglect and concern when your doctors have not fully explained to you what treatment is indicated for you and why. I hope that you are in the care of an experienced electrophysiologist who can evaluate your case and recommend the best medicines and/or procedures for you. You are certainly "not alone" with this condition and in this forum you will find many caring and emapatetic individuals who will share their experiences with you. Our forum becomes sort of like a "family" where you can go when you need someone to listen to your concerns and understand what you are going through because we are all also involved.
Dealing with a-fib can cause of a lot of anxiety....so many questions about what to do?....when will I have an episode?.....what are the side effects of my medications?.....should I consider a procedure?......has my doctor fully explained things to me?.....when should I go to the emergency room or when should I "wait it out"? There are so many other questions and often they are not fully answered for us.. You can learn a lot being a member of this forum and reading the individual "stories" that each of us have to tell about our a-fib experiences.
We are glad you have joined our group and hope you will continue to post in this forum to let us know how you are doing and we hope you will find the support here that will be helpful to you.
Please keep in touch and feel free to voice your concerns and how things are going with you.
Wishing you the best,
(My A-fib Experience Community Leader)