The State of Thy Heart (Part II)

For those who may have forgotten, I was scheduling a procedure a couple weeks ago for my heart condition. As of Thursday, I’m hopefully free of it!

The procedure, called an ablation study, involves an electrophysiologist (EP) and a team of others running a thin tube (often called a catheter) and related instruments up the femoral veins from the leg, in this case to go up into the heart. With x-ray mapping and the like, they use this path to find and excite electrical pathways in the heart. Sadly, though sedated, I had to be awake for this part: feeling a harsh pain as they used electricity on me, and at one point even had me quasi-thrashing/convulsing or some other sort of bizarre spasms I can’t fully describe…let’s just say I understood at that moment why they restrained me before starting!

I was put out with anesthesia for the remainder of the procedure, mind you. Once they’d found the bad pathway (my condition involved having one that didn’t belong), they used radiation to burn it out so it can’t be used anymore. When I woke up, the first thing a nurse said to me was, “How’s it feel not to have it anymore?”

I’m about four days post op now, slowly recovering. Though it was a same day procedure, I was so stiff from being restrained even afterwards for four hours (it’s awkward that my dad basically had to feed and gimme liquid because I wasn’t allowed to move while in the recovery room prior to discharge)…I only fully recognized I was post op on Friday. Sure, I ended up with the usual fever, some heart pain (your heart’s gonna hurt when they were electrifying it so often!) and general soreness, but to be honest, the thing I think about most is the giant bruise on my leg.

It’s not that it bothers me. Quite the opposite in fact! I took pictures of it for my memory. That bruise is like a battle scar to me. I never want to forget this surgery, because even if I’d put it off for 12 years…I’m so glad it’s finally done. I’ve thought about sharing the picture I took here, but even I know that might be a little awkward.

Thank you for being here with me during my journey of recovery!
I hope to restart the 101 Challenge from challenge 13 in my next post. Please look forward to it!

A Gift After a Stressful Day (I will do more challenge later, I swear!)

For those of you unaware, May is Mental Health Awareness month, and Free Comic Book Day was about yesterday. To combine those events at work, I made a short comic that brings up the concept of happiness and sadness, and is meant to give an important message. Something this big should get its own post, right?!

You can either read it HERE or, if for some reason that doesn’t work right on your device (it hates my tablet!)…You can try this handy PDF!

Health and happiness to you all!

The State of Thy Heart [Sorry, No Challenge Today!)

It was brought to my attention in recent days that May is a very critical month to me. In the adage, “April showers bring May flowers”, it is a reminder to us all that even in the dark of times, there is light up ahead. However, this seemingly simple logic isn’t always how the world works.

This month is Mental Health Awareness Month. For those of you unaware, I have always had a strong attachment to the idea of pushing away stigma towards the concept of mental illness, partially (okay, if I’m being honest, mostly) because I suffer from a number of psychiatric and generalized mental health problems myself, along with most of my family and many of my friends.

Mental health issues aren’t always easy to spot, and while you might not like to admit it, they can come on at any age. I started needing therapy when I was around six years old. To be fair, it was because a classmate told me I should kill myself (yes, six year olds say such nice things to each other when they’re mad!). But seriously…At the time, a six year old in therapy wasn’t uncommon- however, the concept that they had a severe problem was.

I was diagnosed with severe anxiety as “Generalized Anxiety Disorder” when I was 13, but I’d been classified with social anxiety well before that. I have always been prone to panic attacks, and also have a mild delusion tendency and whatnot. Basically, my head is messed up. When they diagnosed my anxiety, the doctors told me they wanted to classify me with a personality disorder, but it was illegal to do that with a minor. So, while I wasn’t “officially” diagnosed it until 18 years of age, I was already considered Borderline Personality beforehand.

I have a LOT more to cover today, but first some helpful hints from a mental health advocate that’s lived on the system most of her life.

  • If you aren’t sure a sound or sight is real, ask someone. Don’t be afraid to seem crazy! If a sound is scary, or a sight that might not be more than glare…Still make sure to ask someone if it’s there to them too. You might be hearing things, but you might also be hearing a real sound. It’s okay to ask for someone else to chime in. If they don’t hear it, it means you should try to talk yourself down about it…Or ask them to help find something to relax you.
  • Know what triggers not just you, but your friends. If you know you’re a very sympathetic person and tend to react to how other’s feel heavily, try not to bring up something that could cause them a panic attack- it’s better for both of you!
  • Medicine helps, but it’s not the full solution. While I have medicine for my anxiety and to help lessen my hallucinations and whatnot, it’s not a cure. My anxiety still exists. Try to remember that it’s just a part of you, not who you are- and that you need more than one tool in the toolbox to finish a job, such as taking care of your health.

I’ll try to post some helpful practices on a later date. Today, I’m actually in the middle of an anxiety attack as I write this…And I want to share why, because it’s actually kind of amazing.

If you weren’t aware until now, I have a heart condition called Wolff Parkinson White. This means my heart has an extra electrical pathway that does not belong there at all. Some people with WPW have medicine help plenty, or at least use it. However, WPW can be a problem in more than one way:

  1. If you have anxiety, your heart naturally beating out of sorts can make it worse, and vice versa.
  2. You have a higher risk of atrial fibrillation
  3. You cannot take a lot of medicines due to how they affect the heart (in particular note today, many for psychiatric purposes!).

While there is medicine, there’s one way to possibly eradicate the offending pathway all together: Ablation. It’s not a surefire method (there are some variables) but it’s fairly risk-free and minor surgery as surgery goes. I was told over a decade ago I should get it done…But I was too scared, and chickened out. I’ve been pushing it off far too long, and my heart has not been doing well with all the stress from my grandmother’s situation lately. So, I went to my EP (electrophysiologist, who would be doing the procedure)…And we scheduled my ablation. For next week.

While I’m an adult, I’m childish on many levels. One is that I am TERRIFIED of needles. I was proud of myself for making the appointment and even more so for not needing to death-grip my father’s hand when I got some blood drawn. However, I think what scares me the most about the surgery is the anesthesia and the fact that I’ll have tubes going up my femoral veins (the ones in your inner-thigh near your privates). I have to get pricked, obviously, to get them in- and it might not be just one vein either. It has a lot of variables, again. But…I won’t have dad to squeeze in the operating room even for the anesthesia, most likely. I can only hope the nurse will help me. Apparently, I will only be partially knocked out- it’ll be a conscious anesthesia. Hopefully, dad gets to videotape me afterwards to see my insanity? :’D

I plan to use my anxiety the next few days to do a lot more writing and to expand on mental health chatter. Books and Quills will be doing a lot of stuff focusing on mental health as well, and I plan to make a comic based on it along with tying in an old classic. I’ll tell you more as days go by. Because this is already long enough, I’m skipping the 101 Challenge for today at least. I won’t forget it, I swear.

To all of you, I wish you the best of health and happiness!