Thursday, February 9, 2012

My Turn Now


   My Dad, and Daniel and I were always very close when they were each here on Earth, and I have conveyed that we are close even now, when they have both passed.  This week we learned how much like them, and how connected we still really are.
               About two weeks ago, I got a chest cold, unusual for me, and somewhat severe. I was coughing particularly at night, and wheezing a little.  I also noticed that my heartbeat was particularly strong and more rapid than usual.  Nine days ago, I experienced a sensation of chest palpitations, of my heart bouncing, a bit like a flopping fish.  While taking my pulse, it seemed irregular. Since by then it was the middle of the night, I decided to take two aspirin, and call my physician in the morning, and report what is probably a run of atrial fibrillation.  Yes, atrial fibrillation afflicted my Dad, on and off for almost thirty years.  It also altered the configuration and efficiency of his heart and contributed to his passing, albeit in his eighties.   Daniel of course, is said to have passed suddenly, following a clean autopsy, of a spontaneous rhythm disturbance.  It is therefore not surprizing, that I share some of this predilection.
               That night, as I slept, my father said to me in a dream, "This is the last time you are going to be able to let this pass.  This next time, you are going to need treatment.  You need to get a cardiologist".
                As you know, I accept that Daniel and my father, are able to speak with me, in both dreams and sometimes in other ways.  I made the cardiologists appointment immediately for the end of the month, as quickly as I could get an appointment. I also let my internist know what was going on.  Nine days after the initial episode of atrial fibrillation, it happened again, early one morning, and I wound up in the university medical center's cardiology monitored unit.  Oddly, I was very calm.   Just as I had suspected, on EKG, and on monitor, it was atrial fibrillation.  Then, as it tried to convert, it danced between atrial fib. and atrial flutter. This time, the episode lasted from 5:14 am until 3:15 pm.   Physicians did testing, and chest x-rays and waited for labs.  First, they were seeking some insight in terms of fluid and electrolyte balance with regard to labs, and later they were debating the benefits of cardioversion against the benefits of intravenous drug conversion to a normal rhythm.    I joked that I had an AED at home, but that it just didn't have a "self cardiovert mode". No one thought my laughing  comment that coronal mass ejections of the sun has disrupted the electrical rhythm of my heart very funny either.   No one seems to have a sense of humor in a cardiac unit, and that is indeed just where one needs to have it. I told them that I thought I would convert on my own anyway, and that I would rather take an anti-arrhythmic drug myself, so that we would know what would work if this ever happens at home, and they agreed.  While they were headed to the pharmacy of an anti-arrhythmic pill they do not keep on their unit, I converted to regular sinus rhythm by myself.   After another hour, I was sent home.
           This new arrhythmia may simply be our family leaning toward episodic arrhythmia.  My eldest son had a successful cardiac ablation for a-fib about a year ago, and so rhythm disturbances are a feature of our family.  Still, cardiac arrhythmia can be caused by many things.   In Daniel's case, his supposed fatal arrhythmia was spontaneous and due to Long QT syndrome which had never been diagnosed..  His autopsy showed a completely normal heart without enlargement or coronary artery disease.   My father, had spontaneous arrhythmia, in the form of a fib,but went on with episodic a-fib to have changes from it which adversely impacted his heart's ability to pump as effectively as it once did. The eventual effect was heart failure in his eighties.   My issue may be different from theirs.  Unlike each of them, I seem to have a moderate enlargement of my heart in addition to the new arrhythmia. It may be that my new issue follows a virus.
          In any event,  my job is to try to avoid any additional slips into atrial fibrillation (as if I have that kind of control here) between now and my appointment in a week and a half.  I also need to try to get over this cold.  Then, the remainder of my cardiac testing will be done and my cardiologist will come up with a game plan.  Other than feeling lousy I am not particularly scared. I know I have family who love me here with me, and God and at least a couple of people around me who aren't in the flesh here anymore.  I'll let you know how it goes.

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