Sunday, August 31, 2014

Heart Procedure Update

University of Colorado Hospital
Good news is always good news.  I am so grateful to have good news to report.  
Morning came early the day of surgery.  I'm just not an early morning person, but I had an appointment to make, so around 5:00 a.m. I rolled out of bed at the Springhill Suites across the street from the hospital and got myself ready for my big day.  

The air felt crisp and cool as I gazed a the beautiful front range of the Rocky Mountains as we walked to the car.  Reflective thoughts soothed me as I gazed at towering outlines of mountains against a sky just beginning to lighten in the dawn of day.  The verses I meditated on before bed entered my heart:  I will lift my eyes until the hills, from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from The Lord, which made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)  That Psalm, my Psalm, always calms my heart and reminds me I am in God's hands.  The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.  

Once we entered the hospital, there were moments of anxiety when I wanted to say,  "I've changed my mind.  I'm not doing this."  Did you ever feel that way before a medical procedure?  Thankfully, I was surrounded by a wonderful team of doctors and anesthesiologists.  This kept my fears at bay even when I entered the surgical room.  Talk about an intimidating place!  It was huge and full of all kinds of equipment and machines and people.  I barely could see the skinny little bed where I would lie as the procedure was performed.

Once I'd entered the surgical room, and just prior to the surgery, several ice cold, large disc shaped patches were attached to my back and front.  I had been warned that I was going into a very cold room where very cold patches would be placed on me.  I asked if we could take pictures and just use this experience as my ice bucket challenge.  These discs or magnets are actually defibrillators and magnets that allow for 3-D pictures of my heart.

This catheterization, was not, as the saying goes,  my first rodeo.  I'd had a heart catheterization a year ago.  This most recent one was much more intense to me, but I was told the other procedure was actually more tricky because of the side of the heart that is catherized for an artery study.  The procedure that I had on Friday was an electrical study.

The surgery itself ended up lasting four hours.  I think my dear husband was beside himself with worry.  I was out cold for it all since I was given propofol. Or, if I were awake, I have absolutely no memory of anything, thank heavens.  The doctor had to perform a heart ablation.   This ablation should have destroyed those places in my heart that were causing arrhythmias.  During the study, I did go into atrial fibrillation (aFib) with my heart beating 200 beats a minute.  The doctors were unable to slow down the rapid beat with medication while I was in surgery, so they had to shock my heart back into rhythm using those discs that been attached to my body prior to surgery.  I'd say it is handy to have a defibrillator attached to your body!

Because the procedure was done by a catheter being fed up to my heart via an entrance in the groin, I had to lie flat on my back another four hours after surgery.  I was constantly monitored so I wouldn't cross my legs or try to bend them, or attempt to get up.  I had exceptional care during the entire time I was in the hospital.  There are only three patients for every nurse on the cardiac recovery unit.    I felt very safe and cared for.

I spent the night after surgery in the hospital.  This is always done after an ablation.  Reportedly, I had no palpitations at all, and my heart rate was good the entire time.  I did have some bouts with low blood pressure during the morning hours on the day after surgery.  My readings were as low as 88/48.  I have problems with low blood pressure at times, so this was not a new thing.  Once I was up and moving around, my blood pressure improved.

The doctor put me on a diabetic diet while I was in the hospital.  Smart move on his part, and actually, the food I had while I was there was exceptional.  For lunch just before I left to go home, I had crab cakes, delicious crab cakes, arranged on a bed of romaine lettuce, and served with fresh asparagus spears grilled to perfection, and fresh steamed spinach.  I was even allowed one half of a slice of carrot cake.  It was all very good tasting and quite satisfying.

I'm so very grateful to have this procedure behind me.  For years, my doctor has discussed the possibility of doing such a procedure, but she never felt the time had come when I needed it.  I was referred to Dr. X. by way of my wonderful G.I. doctor at National Jewish.  (She referred me to a NJH cardiologist.  He went through my records.  During a consultation with the NJH cardiologist, he said I needed to go the University of Colorado Hospital to their electrophysiology doctors and even made sure I saw Dr. X.)  There were actually two doctors of cardiac electrophysiology who attended me during my surgery, and neither one expected to find what they did once they were able to do the electrical study of my heart.  The problems just were not showing up on the holter monitors that I have worn so often.  

I look forward to again being able to walk at longer distances, hike up some hills, and just live life without episodes of tachycardia (rapid heart beat) stopping me in my tracks.  I hope to no longer be bothered by constant palpitations.  I hope to have fewer dizzy spells.  I think my quality of life just got better, much better.  I am so grateful.

Thank you to all of you that sent me good wishes.  Soon, I will be back to being able to exercise and walk.  The next battle is with the weight I've put on.  Along with that battle, I'll be battling pre-diabetes.  Onward and upward…

**I am not a medical doctor, and I have limited understanding of all that took place during my surgery.  It has been explained to me.  One doctor even drew a picture for me.  My knowledge and understanding of the procedure remains quite limited.  I've only conveyed to you what I understand.  I'm sure there were wonderful technical things done of which I have no knowledge.  Thankfully, I can leave all that knowledge to my doctors while I remain the one who benefited from their education, skill, and expertise.  


  1. What a relief -- to have that long-dreaded procedure behind you! I've been thinking of you and praying for you, Sally. Now the task is to take wonderful care of yourself -- a task we all face at this time of life. I'm with you in battling the weight and pre-diabetes. And I hope you'll soon be able to do all the things you enjoy -- long walks and hiking, gardening among them -- without fear, simply savoring the day.

  2. Wow, Sally! I've been so preoccupied with all the stuff happening over at my house that I didn't realize you were going through this. I'm so glad everything went well. Art also has an arrhythmia that we worry about, but I think it's different from yours. I wish he could have a procedure that could take care of it. Congratulations! And gracious! That lunch looks amazing! I've never had a meal like that in a hospital.

  3. Here's hoping for good heart health and nice, even heartbeats!

  4. Hope you are fully recovered. I'm so glad you had a positive outcome.

  5. What wonderful news! Yes, I would say this qualifies for completing the ice bucket challenge; a bucket of cold water on your head would be nothing after this:) You have been through so much, but I know you must be so happy to have finally found some answers--and a remedy--to your health issues. I hope, too, you will be out there hiking and enjoying life even more very soon.

  6. What a interesting post this is, Sally. I read every word anticipating it as if I were there beside you. And I have to say I've NEVER had a hospital meal that looked that good. It must be a really fine hospital, I think. Glad it's behind you and I'll see you next month! Yay! :-)

  7. Guess what Sally? You and I have something else in common. Yup been there. Done that. I understood what you wrote.

  8. Truly good news.
    And with your new-found ability to move around, you'll then be better able to battle the pre-diabetes.

  9. Hi Sally. You were very brave to have gone through this and I'm so pleased for you that everything seems to have gone so well.. I wish you a healthy recovery , but don't go running before you can walk! Take care.

  10. Hi Sally,
    Thanks for sharing your experience. You're in my thoughts and sending you light and energy for a continued thriving recovery. much love, melonie

  11. Hi Sally,
    Thanks for sharing your experience. You're in my thoughts and sending you light and energy for a continued thriving recovery. much love, melonie

  12. Yes, I've been very nervous before surgeries and other procedures. Fortunately, one of the first steps was usually to start an IV drip that included a little tranquilizer. Glad you had this done, and that you can look forward to more normal activity. And BTW, that lunch was a great sendoff into your new life!

  13. This procedure sounds like it will give you excellent results. For avoiding diabetes I cut white sugar drastically, cut out fruit juice, and limit white flour, white potatoes and white rice. That worked great for me in putting my blood sugar into the healthy range.

  14. This is truly wonderful news though the waiting had to have been awful for your husband. I have heard of great results from the ablation procedure.
    Dropping weight will be so much easier now that you will be able to move about. Wow, if that was a pre-diabetes diet they gave you, I'd sign up.
    Keep healing and regaining your life back.

  15. Although it does sound complicated, it sounds like a good solution for you. Also sounds like you got the right doctor to do the procedure. Now, onward and upward to a better way of life.

  16. Wow, glad everything went well. . . what a relief you must feel! May you soon be up and walking and hiking and living life to the fullest again.

  17. Our Sunday School teacher had this ablation done a couple of months ago. He is a 'new' man problems with irregular heartbeat and weakness/dizziness that he suffered with before the ablation.
    I'm so glad to hear that yours went well. Sending you another smile...and a hug. Wishes for continued and complete healing for you.

  18. I am so proud of you --for being so brave while preparing yourself for this long and hard procedure. Obviously, you did well --and I'm sure your doctors did a great job also and are proud of you...

    It's fun to give good news and I'm glad to read about it even though I've never even heard of half of this stuff. Thank God for our doctors and great hospitals.

    I am doing really good since the gallbladder surgery --and my weight is staying stable (136)... I feel tremendous ---and I hope you will begin to feel as good or better soon... God Bless You, my friend.


  19. So pleased this is all behind you know. it sounded very scary and you handled it very bravely and your quote from Psalm 21 is good to know by memory and can be used in times of trouble and stress.
    Psalm 91 is another one!

    Hoping you'll soon be doing the long walks and that all goes well.
    Maggie x

    Nuts in May

  20. Congratulations!
    So it’s all over now and you can start a new life, free from tachycardia.
    I sincerely hope that the ablation has done the trick.

    When I’ve mentioned to my doctors that I’ve heard good things about ablation they say that in my case success is not guaranteed and that the procedure might possibly have to be repeated. I am not really ill enough yet, the periods between AF are long and I am fine, without heart problems most of the time.

    Until the next time. . . . .

    Thank you for your long email. I am not ignoring it and will get in touch about it. That you were kind enough to write to me when you had huge problems yourself makes me appreciate your kindness doubly.

    I am relatively well at the moment, although I have to admit that nearly all of the items on your list apply to me most of the time.

  21. Glad to hear the good news. You're brave! Here's to an improved quality of life- you deserve it.

  22. Somewhere along the way (in my non-online time, I suppose -- I've been off a lot in August) I missed that you were having this and at this time. I think I knew something was in the offing but not sure when.

    I am so very relieved and grateful that all came out well. It sounds as though you had the best of care and the outcome is very positive. Perhaps the peace of mind will be the best benefit (although those crab cakes looked like a pretty good benefit, too.)

    You were one heck of a brave woman. I admire that and you so very much.

  23. I'm so glad this procedure went well, Sally, and will hopefully give you a much improved quality of life. You obviously have first-rate medical care available to you, which is wonderful.

  24. Good news indeed. I was quite aware of pretty much everything you wrote about because, quite simply, I went through exactly the same ablation procedures at Mayo Clinic several years ago. The good news for me and hopefully you as well is that I haven't had a single arrhythmia since. It's been a miracle....:)

  25. As I read over your post I could feel your pain and your questions - some I have had myself. I think God likes it when we are just being - hopefully with him - and maybe this is how he brought us to this place. I don't know.

  26. Great to hear that you did this and will have a better life from now on.

  27. I have been on a blogging break due to family weddings, travel and some bouts of low energy. I am so glad your top-notch medical team has given you a start on a healthier season of life.

    And I hope you post about your journey with the prediabetic diet. I was doing the diabetic exchanges trying to stay below the prediabetic range, But with travel and weddings, I have been indulging. I think that is why I have so little energy lately.


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