Thursday, June 11, 2009

SVT Ablation

I've had supraventricular tachycardia, also known as SVT, for 9 years. It started in 7th grade and at the time I had no idea what it was or that it was bad for me. All I knew is that it sometimes happened. Over the years I came to find out that it was an abnormally fast heart beat that was triggered by certain things. In my case it was bending forward after a run or starting to run from a stopped position. I was always able to stop it by laying down so I figured that as long as I could stop it, there was no need to take medicine or do anything.

I never knew how much it affected my life until this last month. In April I went back to my cardiologist, one that I had as a pediatric cardiologist, and she recommended that I talk to an "adult" cardiologist about the SVT ablation procedure. She said, as a runner and someone who hasn't grown out of it, I would benefit a lot if I went through the procedure to permanently cure me.

So I talked to a cardiologist that I have known for a few years. He definitely felt that I would need the procedure. This morning I went to the hospital to have it done.

Basically what the procedure involves is catheters being placed up through veins in my legs and snaked into my heart. They are able to map out my heart with the catheters and once that is done, they send electrical signals to try to trigger my heart to go into tachycardia. Tachycardia involves a second electrical pathway that causes the extra beats. Once the pathway is located, radio frequency waves are applied to the location to burn the tissue. Once the muscle heals over, the scar tissue prevents any electrical signals from travelling through the extra pathway.

Before the surgery I wasn't nervous, I was excited. I knew I'd be OK. During surgery I was doped up quite enough. I don't remember anything except that whenever they triggered my heart into tachycardia I would wake up and look at two of the 6 monitors in front of me and could see where the catheters were in my heart. I was a little bummed each time because I wanted to see the colored image of my heart, not the black and white version of the catheter placement, but that screen was out of my view.

After the surgery the doctors said that during surgery I kept asking questions about what they were doing and that I wanted to see everything. Apparently I really wanted to see them put the needles into my legs the first time they were trying to find my veins. They said they were afraid to show me the needles but that that they showed me the catheters. I honestly don't remember any of that! The amnesia stuff in the anesthesia really worked. When they told me this I explained that I really did want to see the procedure, but that it was sad that I couldn't remember it.

The first thing I remember after surgery is asking the doctor how long it lasted. It only took 2.5 hours and I was excited since I was told that it would last 3-6. They said they tried to trigger tachycardia after the ablation, but that they couldn't get it. This is a good sign and hopefully my heart will heal well and I won't need a second procedure.

I was wheeled into the recovery room where I was met with nurses with worried looks. Apparently I had no color in my face. It was their looks that then made me start to feel sick. I had to lay flat for 2 hours and was told to drink a lot of liquid. I was extremely thirsty and drank a cup of water very quickly. An hour later, I tried to eat toast and drink more water, but that's when the nausea started to feel worse....

I only had 10 more minutes to go before I could start to slowly sit up, but that's when I threw up. A lot. I sat up so fast that the clots in my legs broke loose. I didn't know it though and told the nurses "I think I'm peeing my pants even though I don't think I'm peeing". They knew what was happening and immediately put me down and applied pressure to my legs for 10 minutes.

They had to clean me up and my 2 hours of laying flat was restarted. Doh! However, these 2 hours went by so much better because I felt like a completely new person. All I had to do was just get everything out of me. My body apparently doesn't like the amnesia medication.

I was able to go home around 7:30pm. It's quite amazing now what medicine can do. I went in for a cardiac procedure and walk out that same day, feeling great. My heart feels like it's always going to start the tachycardia, but it doesn't. The Dr said that there would be swelling in the heart for a few days which would create that feeling.

Hopefully this was successful and I will no longer have to worry about tachycardia. I'm very curious to find out how it impacts my running. Perhaps I'll be faster now that I'm not worrying about whether or not my tachycardia will happen.

The thing that's a pain right now is that I can't work until Monday and that I can't lift more than 10 pounds for a week. I have specific orders for no housework for a week - which sucks cause our house definitely needs some cleaning... I'm not sure what to do with all of this time on my hands now. It's going to be the first weekend since January that I have absolutely nothing to do! No homework, no work, no having to be somewhere that I've known about for a few weeks. It'll be great :)

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