Shortly after being discharged on April 10, 2020, I had an appointment to see my newly adopted cardiologist, Dr. A. I was now taking three different medications (and I don't want to take any), so I said, "I feel we are only bandaging something, which really needs to be fixed." I asked if there was a case for me to have heart surgery to repair my valve. I wasn't thinking in terms of AFib, because my rhythm was fine.
In turn I was told that my Afib may possibly return, and the true solution for that was to do an Ablation. I already knew about the Ablation from my Electrophysiologist, but I didn't like the way it sounded. I needed to think about it before I made that decision.
Regardless, I was told, in order to move forward, an Echocardiogram would be necessary to determine if my valve was operable. That was a no brainer for me, and we scheduled it.
On Tuesday I took a walk outside and was fine. Tuesday overnight however my AFib returned. I've been in and out of arrhythmia ever since I had heart surgery. It's me, not you. The signals to my heart, which cause it to fire, are not arriving synchronously and my heart flutters. But my heart rate jumps up to between 110 and 130 bpm when I am at rest.
I'm not telling you this to scare you off. I had no choice but to have Mitral Valve Surgery and a Maze procedure was also performed at the time to try and stop the AFib. It hasn't yet. That doesn't mean it won't. Keep in mind I am still healing, and while I am somewhat disappointed that my results didn't go as expected, nevertheless I'm still glad I did it. They fixed my valve.
I called my Electrophysiologist and they took me that same evening. I was given another medication, which supports the Amiodarone in controlling rhythm and took it Wednesday night.
Somehow, a miracle took place in the middle of the night my heart returned to normal rhythm and my heart rate returned to 72 bpm. I felt great all day Thursday and all day today. I'm not out of the woods, but I'm 90%, or so I feel.
After being diagnosed with AFib in April of 2020, and spending 4 days in the hospital, they got my heart rate back down to a normal level and I was discharged, still with symptoms of AFib however, I was on three medications; Eliquis to prevent blood clots, Metoprolol to treat high blood pressure and heart failure, and Amiodarone to control my rhythm.
It was a couple weeks later that I went to discuss my options with my newly adopted resident Electrophysiologist Dr. S. I was told by the good doctor that there were two approaches, one short term, and the other long term, used to rectify the AFib arrhythmia. The first, being short term, is called a Cardioversion, which was performed in the Hospital. A method of shocking the heart back into normal rhythm. The second, being long term, is called a Cardiac Ablation, which is performed similar to a catheterization from the groin leading to the heart chambers where they essentially kill the misfiring nerves that are causing the AFib.
I began with the Cardioversion procedure, which is a short procedure. They knocked me out and shocked my heart with 1.21 gigawatts of electricity (no they didn't, I'm just joking). It is a safe low voltage that passes through electrodes they put on your chest above your heart and on your back.
It only took one shock to restore my rhythm and I was fine when I woke up. I felt 100% better immediately. And I remained in sinus rhythm, with a heart rate of 58 bpm, for the rest of 2020.
I took my first walk outdoors today. It took me 5 minutes to walk one tenth of a mile. So my speed is about 1 mile per 50 minutes. I offered to take the mail to the post office, but said to my wife it would take me about 3 hours. You can do the math.
I'm not in bad shape, but after not walking for three weeks my legs are heavy and I am clumsy. The doctor told me to walk for 10 minutes every 4 hours or so, and that is my schedule. Living the dream!
Indestructible. That's me. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. I was Superman (or so I thought).
March 15, 2020 came and that was my last day of work. I thought I was free and clear of coming into contact with infected people, so actually, I was kind of glad about it.
On Thursday, April 2, 2020 my heart started beating funny. I was aware of it and it kept me in and out of sleep that whole night.
It continued to have a funny rhythm throughout Friday, and I felt okay otherwise, but it still had me concerned to the degree that it was unusual.
By Saturday, it seemed to subside and I was relieved about that until Saturday night, when I started having stamina issues. Over the course of Saturday night into Sunday I became easily fatigued. My lungs became congested. If I attempted to exert any energy, ten to twenty steps was my limit. 3 steps up a stairway and my butt went down.
On Monday, April 6, 2020 I went for a Covid-19 test. They didn't even test me. I was in such bad shape by then they sent me directly to the Emergency Room.
My Heart Rate was 160 bpm standing at rest. And then the Vampires came to drink my blood. I had IV's all over me.
It took a couple of days to determine that it was AFib, which I never had any symptoms of before, because the entire hospital was filled with Covid-19 patients, and that was most prevalent on their minds.
I had heart surgery on Monday, March 8. I was a child when I became ill with rheumatic fever, which damaged my mitral valve and hence left me with a heart murmur. I lived with it all my life with no noticeable hinderance, or so I believed because I don't know what life would have been like with a normal heart.
Regardless, as time went by, more and more doctors would tell me I have significant heart disease. I'm 63, and I would reply, "I know. I have lived with it all my life." At the same time I was not in the position to have heart surgery, which caused me to get medical clearance before a company would hire me.
When Covid-19 hit in February, I lost my job on March 15, and was actually relieved because I work with the public and thought I'd be safe. Not so.
Two weeks later if developed AFib, which I, and the Hospital, mistook for Covid-19 symptoms. Shortness of breath and fatigue were my symptoms. I couldn't take ten steps without collapsing.
It took a year of testing to determine if I was eligible for Heart Surgery. The combination of mitral valve regurgitation and the AFib put me in the slot.
They were able to repair my Heart Valve with the existing tissue, but I had complications controlling the AFib. It is still not 100% under control and I am being watched, but they are confident that it will resolve over time. We shall see.
I was in the Hospital for 3 weeks. with these complications. I just got out on Friday, March 26. I can only say that I am so glad I had the surgery to fix my heart and even though there were some struggles in my case, I highly recommend following through with surgery if you are in a similar situation. I'm now in the 6 week recovery period and will update any changes as I progress.