Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Heart Journey

Warning - this is a long post, if you don't want to invest a lot of time, jump to the last paragraph.

Today is a day for celebration and thanksgiving in our family.  I think I will have to go in my room later and let go and truly thank God for carrying us through a storm.  For the first time as a family we faced a health crisis last year. 

For about 10 years DH would occasionally have heart rhythm problems.  We discovered it after our first baby was born and he would suddenly wake up during the night.  After this they ran tests, they thought he might have mitral valve prolapse but that was ruled out.  Since it happened infrequently he lived with it.  Fast forward ten years to January 2007.  After having a leg infection, he was advised if it got worse over the weekend to go into the e.r. to receive i.v. antibiotics.  I was taking the girls over to a playdate when I received a call from DH saying the hospital was insisting he be admitted because of his irregular heartbeat.  He refused and they wanted me to go down there to talk to him.  

After hearing them warn of heart attack and stroke what finally hit us was the threat that we'd have to possibly pay for the entire e.r. visit if we refused doctor's orders.  Okay, okay, we'll listen.  DH was upset at the time because this was something he learned to live with and now they were admitting him for that (not the leg infection).  He firmly told the doctor, nurses and myself, "if I'm going in, they better get to the bottom of this and solve it!"  This stayed in my mind because I had never heard him talk to anyone this firmly with as much emotion!

The hospital visit, assignment of cardiologist, heart medications all seemed to somehow exacerbate the problem.  Now the irregular rhythm would occur about once a week and and he'd have to be cardioverted back into rhythm.  Something more concerning happened when he began having trouble with atrial flutter.  Before his heartbeat was irregular but now he experienced a steady rate at a very high level - at times so high he couldn't sustain it and would become dizzy and out of breath.  Three different times we had to go to the e.r. for this.  They'd all rush around, kick me out of the room full of staff, and cardiovert him immediately.  This was scary.

His local Cardiologist referred him to the Bay Area for an atrial ablation.  The Electrophysiologist he was referred to was the only surgeon in California performing a procedure with a new device.  DH had the procedure done in early April last year.  Unfortunately after he came off his heart medication 3 months post surgery he once again went into atrial fibrillation.  Although we were warned about the 30% chance of needing a second procedure, we took a day for disappointment then geared up for the next procedure.

The next procedure was in late September 2007.  DH had a virus days before the procedure date but everything was still a go.  When he got out of the procedure he had a fever (from the virus) and was weaker than he would have been.  After a few days being home he went into atrial fibrillation while on all the medication.  This was the most discouraging point for both of us.  He was cardioverted six days after the procedure.  In December at his follow-up appt. we learned he has an anomaly he was born with where his upper body blood entered his heart two ways instead of one, called persistent left superior vena cava.  It is a benign condition and explains his rhythm disturbances.  We were happy to finally know the cause.

So here we are today.  A month and a half into weaning off all three heart medications.  After two weeks off the main rhythm medication, the Cardiologist proclaimed "you are cured!"  He had to slowly come off the last of the three medications though.  Today is the first day he is medication free!!!  Thanks be to God!  Thanks to the family and friends who helped us through!  God is good.  I am thankful God allowed the doctors to get to the bottom of it as DH requested so emphatically in January of 2007.  


sequin said...

PRAISE BE TO GOD!!! ALLELUIA!! (I know its Lent but just HAVE to say it!) What a journey!!

Lisa said...

Thank God! We so often take our health for granted, that we forget to thank God for it. We will say Prayers of Thanks to God for healing a Wonderful Heart!