I have been living with Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib) for the past three years now. It seemed to be nothing more than a nuisance until late May or early June this past year when I noticed my pulse rate starting to spike again when out running. Slowing down helped for a while, but eventually even a light jog became too much. Finally, in August, I contacted my cardiologist to setup an appointment to discuss this.
It took several months before I was finally able to sit down with him to look at treatment options. While I was waiting I found a portable ECG from AliveCor that would attach to a smartphone. I bought this little device and have been using it since, taking a reading every morning and evening as well as any time I could feel my heart acting up. By the time I finally got in to see my cardiologist, I had a handful of printouts to illustrate my concern.
The cardiologist laid out two treatment options. The first was a catheter ablation, a procedure that runs some catheters through an artery from my groin to heart and will cauterize the spot in my heart that is responsible for the feedback loop. There is about a 5% chance of serious, although temporary, complication, and an 80% chance that it will fix the problem.
The other option was to go onto another drug that is used to control the A-Fib. Flecainide usually will have some positive effect on A-Fib for most people, so I opted to try that first. The Dr. said it should show pretty immediate results, but after a week it was no better, and maybe even worse. So the decision was made then to go ahead with the ablation.
Part of getting ready for an ablation is to take a blood thinner for a while, both before and after the procedure. Warfarin is a drug that has to be monitored pretty closely, requiring frequent trips to the lab to give blood, starting off with twice a week. My diet, exercise and general health all seem to affect how well it is working, so you need to have a pretty constant diet and exercise level. Currently I am going in weekly, and my protime level is at the bottom limit of what they want. I will get tested the day before the procedure, and if it is low, the procedure will be rescheduled.
This week I finally got a date for the procedure, Feb 23rd. Check-in at 6 A.M., procedure at 8 A.M., spend the night and home the next day. In the meantime I will continue to walk (running has been out for several months), try and stay healthy, and not eat any broccoli, or anything else that will affect my protime levels. And hopefully, when all is said and done, I will be able to run and hike again. I have one year left to complete the PCT, and doubt I can do it the way I feel now.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28 NIV