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Atrial Fibrillation: No Way To Start The Day!

Feb 4, 2008
Wednesday morning I awoke at 2:36 am. I know this because the first thing I did was look at my digital clock and wonder why my left arm was tingling. I certainly hadn't stuck a paper clip into an electrical outlet during the night. My arm wasn't hurting, just tingling like crazy.

After lying there a few minutes I did the only thing that could possibly help the situation. I got up, went to the kitchen and made a sandwich out of some leftover barbeque from the night before. By now it was 3:00 a.m. and there was nothing on television at that hour except Ginzu knives, exercising equipment and botox cream commercials.

TV programming didn't really matter because by this time I was too nauseated to eat my sandwich and drink my glass of milk. I left them on the tray and headed back toward the bedroom to lie down again, but I had only taken a few steps before my chest started hurting. At first it was only a little burning sensation not unlike indigestion pains. Every step though, increased the pressure until it was a burning, crushing all consuming ache.

Being the pillar of self control that am, I calmly went to my bedroom closet, stepped into clothes and shoes, grabbed my wallet, bagged up my medications and woke my wife.
She drove me to the hospital where they stuck me in a wheelchair as soon as they saw me and pushed me inside where I was attacked by an admitting clerk, who insisted I do the paperwork. I tossed her my wallet and told her to get what she needed.

An orderly rushed me inside where they made a fast assessment of my vital signs. Blood pressure: 240/145, heart rate 160 and fluttering. I was in the middle of an atrial fibrillation, which at 4:00 a.m. and before my morning coffee is not a lot of fun.

My chest was one big ball of constrictive pain. ER nurses put two IV's in my arms with one holding a vial of morphine. After sticking a nitro-glycerin patch above my heart, the hurting rapidly went away; for about 20 minutes. Other stuff, like blood thinners and nausea medicine was oozing into my body as I lay there wishing the pain in my chest would go away.

Within minutes I was wheeled down into the bowels of the hospital, with nurses and the admittance clerk running after me with papers for me to sign. We arrived at the cath lab where seven other nurses and a couple of doctors started doing strange things to me as I tried very hard not to vomit on any of them.

After signing a couple of papers that said I was giving them the go-ahead to do the procedure and another one that said if they found anything interesting they had my permission to go ahead and fix it, I was given another IV and promptly passed out. I felt no pain, but I knew everything that was going on and even was able to answer questions.

The surgery team that worked on me was great! One of the doctors must have been a rock and roll fan, for when they were about to begin, someone turned on a CD player and "Journey" was piped into the room.

The doctor inserted the catheter/camera into the femoral artery in my upper right thigh, or groin. The videos showed that my arteries were basically clear. I heard the doctors talking about which medicines would cure the problem of getting the heart back to working right. I found out later that day the medication cocktail they gave me worked.

My doctor explained what had happened to me and in my drugged state, this is what I remember. Atrial fibrillation is a problem where the heart's two upper chambers are not able to establish a coordinated rhythm with the two lower chambers.

Actually, my heart sounded like a garage sale lawn motor only running on one cylinder. This irregular and rapid heartbeat is caused by electrical pulses fired from the top part of the heart to the bottom chambers, thus establishing a constant rhythm. This was not happening to me. My heart rhythm was really messed up.

Considering I was dopey on various drugs, I think the medical information I retained is excellent. During the day it was determined that if they were unable to control the heart rate and rhythm through medication, they would have to shock it into obedience with electricity. Luckily for me, medications worked!

I must have satisfied the lady from admissions sometimes during the day because I never saw her again. All in all, it was an interesting day and I thank God for the outcome.
About the Author
Bob Alexander is well experienced in outdoor cooking, fishing and leisure living. Bob is also the author and owner of this article. Visit his sites at:
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