5-4-3-2-Done. Heart Story Pt. 2
My thirteen year struggle with SVT is finally over. (…well at least there’s a 97% chance it is.)
I know my heart always thought it lived inside of a marathon runner, but alas, I have crushed her hopes and dreams of ever achieving that goal. No more waking up at 3:00am with 200 beats per minute and midnight hangs in the local ER. No more Adenosine (an intravenous drug that temporarily stops your heart to get it back into rhythm). No more cautiously planning trips dependent on what the local health care options were. No more making my husband worry or ER escorts by Toronto Police. Most importantly, no more taking up the valuable time and resources of doctors and nurses who have so excitedly cared for my unusual condition over the years.
In June I had an ER visit which resulted in finally agreeing to a Cardiac Catheter Ablation, something I had always been too scared to commit to. I was supposed to hear by the end of June about when the procedure would be but when August 10th rolled around I called several times before talking to a nurse who nervously said I was listed as urgent and could I come next week… (Insider tip: Aways advocate for yourself.)
I have to admit I was the most scared I have ever been waiting for this procedure, even more than childbirth! I felt guilty of feeling that fear because it’s not like having open heart surgery, but I was able to conjure up every terrible risk, side effect and outcome possible. The Monday prior to my procedure I did not sleep a wink. My mind was spinning and all I could think of was that every night, especially the pre-op night, would be terrifying... that the weight of thinking about what could happen would be debilitating. And that, my friends, is the exact definition of anxiety: Focusing on future events that you cannot predict or control.
Tuesday. Realizing this would be a long week I picked up my phone to drown myself in the mind numbing habit of scrolling through social media. I came across another brilliant reel by Mel Robbins about anxiety with something that immediately stuck with me. Whenever you start to feel anxious about anything, countdown from five and tell your brain to change the subject.
What if I’m the 1% with complications?
5-4-3-2-1. What if I’m not? I’m young and healthy and strong.
What if the first type of sedation doesn’t work?
5-4-3-2-1. Technology in health care advances faster than any other sector.
5-4-3-2-1. Time to workout, eat a healthy meal, get some work done, call a friend, play with the kids…
I must have count down from five 1,872 times the week leading up to my procedure. The night before, I slept so peacefully. The morning-of, I woke up before my alarm, feeling like it was just another day. Sitting in the waiting room felt like I was just waiting to check off another to-do. I felt strong and brave, resilient and prepared. I’m not sure how or why but I’m pretty sure it was all my mindset of using Mel’s countdown theory!
The procedure itself was a little nerve-wracking, but considering they jam some wires into your heart for a couple hours, it was a wonderful experience. I had a team of 10 docs and nurses who were funny, accommodating, professional and so talented. They joked about it being their first day on the job, asked me what music I wanted to listen to and I got to watch the entire procedure on the screen as a 3D rendering. I felt no pain, no pressure, no weirdness, I didn’t even feel tired or out-of-it from sedation. Completely aware, awake and in awe. It went by in a flash and I even asked for a print out of my heart in 3D, which they happily provided. (Obviously I needed that for my scrap book, #paapertrails)
The moment I was wheeled into recovery, I cried… so hard. Tears of relief and joy that it went well, that it was over, that I overcame my biggest fear. Three hours to lie on my back making sure the incision on my thigh wouldn’t open up, and three hours of nurses constantly offering me cookies and gingerale (something I seriously take issue with, let’s pump recovering patients with sugar. Face palm.) The nurses were so wonderful though! I was en route home by 7:15pm and so happy to see my husband after five hours being apart. So grateful for his support and also enduring thirteen years of this annoying health problem. He is my rock and strength.
Now I’m on day two of recovery, which is hard to do when you’re not sick or in much pain, but I certainly don’t want to deal with my femoral artery busting open. The incision site is really painful to the touch and on the stairs but otherwise I feel wonderful.
I am truly grateful for so many friends, family, clients and online followers who have supported me through this. Prayers, stories, words, messages, calls, gifts, experiences. Thank you, truly.
I heart you all.