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Thursday, February 1, 2018

There's Nothing You Can Do, God Don't Care About You.....


My favorite song from the new Rick Springfield album.

Saw the EP today. First I had to put on a mask cause I foolishly listed that I had a cold/flu. Surprised I wasn't sent to a room to be washed down like a hazmat exercise....
The Medtronic dude came in first and ran all my data. afib is around 6 tenths of one percent.  So no real change. He noted I have been having some PVC's (premature ventricular contractions) as well. Not really sure that my exercise heart response is actually afib.
My EP came in and my first question was whether when doing the electrophysiology study prior to the burning, if they were able to determine if my AV node (your heart's spark plug) was scarred as much as the rest of my heart from those forty one years of running abuse. He indicated it appeared to fire properly, but force is impossible to measure. Yes, the inside of my heart is scarred up. He said if the AV node was not working properly, he'd have put a pacer in me.
So, he would like me to let my swollen heart heal a bit and start trying more jog walks. So long as my HR stays below 160, try not to get concerned about it. He thinks it will improve with a level of fitness. If it again goes into the 30's in the hour after exercise, than a pacer is probably coming. The truth is that I have an old heart that is wearing out. Early stages of heart failure. How reversible is it? Only God knows, and God don't care about me......

Friday, December 15, 2017

16 Days Post Ablation!

There's gonna be a time
when it's all behind you
There's gonna come a time
when your hands been played....
There's gonna come a time
when no one will remind you
There's gonna come a time
And that times today....
Michael Stanley 

It's been a cold December thus far after an awesome October and November. We had a nice 20 minute blizzard a week ago, followed by sunshine that melted it all within an hour. Otherwise, the drought remains sadly intact.
It has been 16 days post ablation. Some of the bruising has abated, but it will be two or three months before it fully resolves. Groin pain is gone. Today was the first day at the gym where I could resume spinning on the recumbent. Had to wait until my plugs had healed so that the pull wouldn't cause me to bleed out. Afib is still there, and some days walking are perfect, and some days the fib comes partway into the hike. Will be another 4 to 6 weeks before I find out if it resolves enough to try walk/ jogging. If this fails, my options become much more difficult. Another ablation, a mini maze procedure, and/or a pacemaker. Not worried about what will come......I have dealt with this pretty well and will handle whatever I have to. If this had hit me in my 40's, I would have been a psycho. So, as always, the waiting is the hardest part.....

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Ablation Deux!

See those fault lines
Lay down like land mines
It's hard to relax
            Tom Petty

So they shaved me up, and drove a bunch of cameras, burning catheters, and fluid catheters inside both sides of my groin up into my heart,  and proceeded to burn away. A week later, I am all black and blue, and as the hairs starts growing back, itching like a bitch! Pain in my groin is minimal, and slight burning in my chest has resolved. Did approximate hour long hikes yesterday and today, with today's hike being better, with a lower heart rate and no fibbing. Afib still minimally remains, but seems muted. Hope over the next 8 weeks the ablation lines scar and the afib either resolves or gets so minimal, it doesn't effect my exercise activities. If it does, a pacemaker may still be in my future.
Will probably return to the gym a week from today, but there will be many activities I cannot do. The recumbent will pull on my groin too much, so certain weights and walks on a fully inclined treadmill will be what I will be able to do.
And yes, I DO fill up the sock!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

4 Minutes 30 Seconds.....

4 Minutes 30 Seconds.....about how long it took to ejaculate the first time a girl gave me a handie in high school, and yesterday, the exact amount of burning time done on the 13 sites during my ablation. Such a huge rigamarole for all the scheduling, pre testing, meetings with hospital registration and nursing staff, two days at a hotel, and probably a bill to medicare for a couple hundred thousand. The doctor was considering doing a pacemaker implant at the same time as the ablation, but felt confident that he got the remaining offending spots. I would have preferred to get that done. If needed, it will require another month long recovery, and I have had enough of those.
So I am home now safe and sound, and will have to take things very easy for about two weeks. The afib is still there, and as occurred the last time, you have to go two to three months before the burning scars over and you have definite results. Not much I can do about it now other that wait and see, and then take the next steps that are possible in the future. The energy, both physical and psychic, to keep preparing for what you think is coming, valve surgery, pacemakers, ablations, etc, just has worn me down a lot. I feel appropriately powerless, a state that is always uncomfortable for me. So again, will keep trying to just do what I can do......

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Becoming Bionic!

But I, ain't done nothing wrong, no

Still I, can't find my way home....

                     Blind Faith

So I saw the EP today and he apologized for his staff dropping the ball on my bradycardia symptoms which caused me to quit my sad little bit of running back at the end of July. He went in depth and said afib is an ugly beast that can hide everywhere in your heart, and even in some places where it is unsafe to ablate, like near your sinus node. My afib, is slightly elevated to one percent from a half a percent back in May, but obviously better than constant, like it was prior to the first ablation. Of course in my lucky case, it is most prominent during exercise, and also results in the occasional bradycardia like I experienced back in July where my heart rate dropped to 31 and 32 respectively after two 40 minute runs. In a funny side note, the medtronic guy says they had me set at 30 as the low alarm, so I missed it by that much......
I am scheduled for another ablation on November 29th.When they are finishing, they will remove the linq loop recorder and also implant the medtronic single chamber pacemaker below my collar bone, and hook me up. This will be set to go off somewhere in the low 40's in case my sinus node tries to kill me again. If ablation two is successful, it may never go off and become a larger more expensive HR tracker. He said it is better to be safe, and since recovery from installation is about two weeks, the same amount of time as from the ablation, why not have the recovery be concurrent. So, I hope this both kills the damn afib and stops the bradycardia, but only time and God will tell.......Will 2018 be the year of the Tom?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Finally, I Go All In!

Saw Dr. Posten today, the robotic heart surgeon. Mitral Valve is bad, but looks repairable. Repair is much better than replace, but if he had to replace, I asked for pig valve. They last 12-15 years, and I would be dead from something else in the mean time. With a mechanical valve, you have to stay on anticoagulants for the rest of your days. Besides the mitral valve repair, he will do two other off the atrial appendage which is a pocket on the outside of your heart where 98% of strokes originate. He will also do a short maze procedure on his way out in the hopes that the Afib can be stopped. If I still have afib after all this, there is a good chance that I have sick sinus syndrome, and a pacemaker will appear in my future. The procedure is done thru three incision between and below the ribs on my right side. The way your heart sits makes this valve most accessible from that side. I will be put on a heart and lung bypass machine for the two hours or so that the entire three procedures should take. Although the pain is shorter than when they break open your sternum, there is a good deal of chest pain from your muscles spasming for the first forty eight hours, and then it resolves generally after that. I will be in the ICU for two days, and stay in the hospital for 3-5, I will have to take it easy for three weeks after the procedure, then I can exercise carefully and progressively from there. I go in tomorrow for a variety of non invasive tests. On monday they will do a cardiac catherization to insure my vessels are clear and no stents would have to be done first. I will stay overnight, and on tuesday, they will do the three procedures. The only fear I have is stroke, and he says the echo shows my heart and valves are virtually plaque free like a teenagers, and that is generally where the stroke risk resides. So, there is suffering in my future, but the hope that I will be able to run again and 2018  will be the year of the Tom.....

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Plan B!

Well, the shit has hit the proverbial fan. After working for three months to try and jog, two problems surfaced in alternating fashion. Either the Afib would not reset, and the jogs were all with a heart rate of 160-180, or the heart rate would reset in 5 or 10 minutes, but for a couple hours after the jog, I would go bradycardic with a heart rate dropping to 32 or 33.....heart failure territory. So, I have scheduled an appointment on Sept. 5th with the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale with the cardiology department in the hopes that they can run tests and determine the best path forward. I don't have any problems on gym days with weights or the recumbent bike, but any attempts at jogging seem dangerous....So, will just go back to walking on the days I am not at the gym. I expect that, from my last echo, I need some combination of a mitral valve repair/replacement,  a maze procedure for the Afib, and or a pacemaker.  Whatever I have to do to try and get my life back and try to hang around for my bride, my brothers, and my boy, I will do. I won't blog any further until I know what the path forward is.....