Sorry to leave everyone hanging…but life and work kinda got in the way!
Cardioversion!! The next step in trying to get my heart back into a normal sinus rhythm.
Yeah, I knew what it meant, as I had done it several times on other people during my time as a paramedic and ER tech. Shoe is on the other foot, as they say.
What exactly does this mean? Well, remember, my heart was in an arrhythmia called rapid afib. In order to get my heart back into normal sinus, drugs are typically the first line defense. But, multiple types of drugs didn’t work for me. This next step requires the placement of two electrode pads to be placed on me…one on my chest and the other on my back so that they are kinda mirroring each other. (Sometimes you will see them placed one below and to the left of the left breast and the other towards the right shoulder. Either way works.) Then an electrical impulse is sent to the pads and the heart is (hopefully) shocked back into a normal rhythm.
The doctor came back into the room and asked if I minded if a medical student could join us. Of course not! So, the medical student started to place the pads on me, and I helped direct the placement, as he had never even seen it done, let alone done one. Got the pads placed and hooked up and we were set. The doctor came back into the room, and had the nurse give me the “twilight” drug…typically versed. But I honestly don’t remember what it was. This was supposed to help sedate me, but still be awake and then help me to forget what happens next. SUPPOSED to help…..KABAMMMMM!! (I need to find one of them Batman cartoons with all the funny captions!) However, it wasn’t funny. Yes, I totally felt the jolt and I totally remember the feeling. But even more importantly, IT WORKED!!
So, heart was back into normal sinus rhythm, but my blood pressure was still sky high…even after all the drugs I had been given. I found out that the ER doc had been in contact with the cardiology department during my stay…so he came back in and told me I was being admitted. NOOOOOO!!!! Yes, I did actually say it. Even though I knew it was inevitable. UGHHHHH. I didn’t have the time or money to be sick! I called my supervisor back and told her I was going to be admitted and that she needed to find someone else to work the next day because I didn’t think I would get released that night either. I was so angry and so very depressed at this point. I’m sure I acted like a petulant child….but I was so done with all of this! And it hadn’t even started. Little did I know, this would be the start of a 2 year long battle to get at the truth of what was happening to me.
I was rolled up to the step down unit and got settled into my new bed. No sooner than that happened, when the echo tech showed up at my door along with the admitting doctor. The tech did a quick echo…lasting about 15 minutes…while the doctor watched. After the echo tech left, the doctor invited my family into the room. He told them that my heart wall was thickened, and the reason it was thickened was because of my extremely high and uncontrolled blood pressure. He estimated that it had been going on for at least 7 years. I tried to explain again that that couldn’t be the reason, as I hadn’t suffered with high blood pressure before. I did biometrics every year for work, and my blood pressure was generally in the 130s/80s. Again, nobody paid any attention to the body on the bed. Yes, I was angry…but even more to the point is, I was very hurt. Why wouldn’t anyone believe me?!?! Of course, everyone started blaming themselves and apologizing. I just sank deeper into myself and tried to drown out the noise. The rest of that day, and even into the weekend, a lot more tests were ordered and performed. I found out that my BNP, troponin and CK levels were elevated. BNP is a marker for heart failure, while troponin and CK are markers for muscle damage….in this case specifically, cardiac. Because of the blood work, at first they were thinking heart attack. So more tests were scheduled for the weekend to rule out or confirm various potential problems.
So, my first night in the hospital, I went to bed not knowing what was happening and scared of what the future might hold.