Throwback Thursday: My Heart (Part 1)

It’s Throwback Thursday, guys! That means it’s time to share with you a memory or two that has brought me to where I am today as a person and writer. For today, I decided to focus on a what may seem like a very vague topic: my heart.

I was born with a slightly unusual heart. You see, I was born with Wolff Parkinson White syndrome- a condition where the heart has more electrical pathways than it should, and causes various problems such as tachycardia. It also works with anxiety in a doomed tandem. There were some good jokes about my heart I always liked to make- but those are no longer necessary. Why? Well, I got it fixed two years ago.

My doctor, when I was a teenager, tried to talk me into a procedure called ablation. In an ablation, they run a thin catheter through your veins to take a look at the heart. When they find potential culprit nerves, they activate it with an electric stimulation- and, once they find the true culprits, they burn it off with radiation or freeze it to death. Point blank: they can rid you of the nerves sending your body into a frenzy.

That said, I didn’t go for the procedure until about ten years after it was recommended. I was too scared of needles, too scared anesthesia would kill me. I honestly felt traumatized for a while that they even wanted to do something to my heart. I suppose it was just my childish view that it was dangerous- because actually, most procedures are much safer on kids!

Well, two years ago in May, I finally got my ablation. I remember the procedure fairly well to a point: I remember convulsing on the table I was strapped down to as they tried to find the nerves with activation. Then, as they were prepared to take out the buggers, they put me deeper under the anesthesia than I’d been before. I was soon asleep.

When I woke up, they were already preparing to move me out of the surgical theater. The doctor smiled at me as I was rolled out on my hospital bed, asking me, “How does it feel not to have WPW anymore?” The words relieved me. It was finally over! Well, mostly.

The hardest part of that day wasn’t the convulsing on the table. It was the fact I had to stay in a very specific position and had to have my legs locked down so that my body could heal from the catheter. I had to stay like that for four hours, guys. FOUR. HOURS. It was so painful to move after growing numbed by the brace keeping it down. I can’t stress it enough. It hurt, bad.

That said, I’m glad I got the procedure. A year later, I was planning a trip to help my emotional heart without any worries that the three nerves I had burned would bother me. As for the details of that trip… Well, let’s save that for next time. Okay?

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!