Atrial Fibrillation and a trip to the ER is how you get sporty bare spots on your once luxuriously hairy chest. I am pretty certain that my page views on BearCub.com are going to suffer mightily from this latest development.
A-Fib. Atrial Fibrillation. Freaky Deaky X 10. [MayoClinic Info]
After cooking a fresh chicken salad for dinner and settling down to watch some bad television with Laura and Loki, some poorly crafted reality program we had on the DVR most likely, I felt my heart rate jump significantly. And differently. Now I have had my heart beat out of my chest before, like when I got scared shitless finding bears had ravaged my campsite while I was taking in the midnight movie Jurassic Park in the mountains of Colorado. I have also experienced the racing heartbeat of extreme anxiety and the unusual heart rhythms of uncertain circumstance. This, however, was altogether different. A potent combination of all these things I had felt before, only all at once. Heart beating hard, soft, fast, slow, thumping, skipping, bumping, jumping. Wildly. It only took about a minute of me feeling like this before I told Laura.
Off to the ER we go at 10:30pm where I quickly find myself whisked to the front of the queue, then surrounded by a half dozen doctors and technicians manning crash carts, EKGs, IVs and the dreaded electric clippers. I stare in disbelief at Laura who is standing in the corner as my new acquaintances poke me and quiz me, tufts of hair spring from my chest like kernels of popping corn as they clear real estate for an octopus of wires and attachments. OK. This is a little scary now. A quick look at the heart monitor shows my heart rate jumping between 100 bpm and 160 bpm. Zoinks!
Over the course of the next few hours the doctors try different drug combinations to get my heart to convert (back to normal). A-Fib is an electrical problem, not mechanical, and the body is usually pretty good at resetting itself in situations like this. Not for me tonight. Nothing was working. We were given the option to paddle me, called Electrical cardioversion. “In this brief procedure, an electrical shock is delivered to your heart through paddles or patches placed on your chest. The shock stops your heart’s electrical activity for a split second. When your heart begins again, the hope is that it resumes its normal rhythm. The procedure is performed under anesthesia.” Shock me with something like 3,000 volts?!? They say that will reboot you, um, I mean convert you 90% of the time. I was ready. Do it if all else fails but lets try the other options first. Drugs. Which took a while.
Around 7-8am my heart converted so they ran another EKG before patting me on the butt and sending me home around 9am. I was feeling beat up for certain and needed a good day of rest to recover. We scheduled a followup with my primary caregiver for the next day.
This may be a one time occurrence. It may happen again. We are investigating further and hope for the best.
One thing is for certain. I want to live.
Watching Laura from the hospital bed, surrounded by the cacophony of the ER, this really struck home. I mean, before this I knew that I wanted to live. But I reeeeally don’t want to die yet. My life is the most blessed in its 40 some years and I have so much more to do. I have lived a rich life up until now and I know that there is more for me here.
This I know. I want to live. ~H