Rosalie Ungar is the author of IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib.
This week’s blog is written by guest blogger Lisa Eliason. Her journey is similar to my almost 40 years of life with atrial fibrillation as well as related and unrelated health issues.
Eight weeks ago, at age sixty-four, I had a total hip replacement. Every day last week I walked 10,000 steps and am now riding an exercise bike. I feel great. The journey here has been long and arduous and started almost seven years ago.
In 2012, at age fifty eight, I was a physical wreck. I was overweight. I was suffering from sinus issues and constantly congested. I would awake at night gasping for breath. I tried a yoga class to lose weight but just ended up hurting myself. My doctor said I pulled my groin muscles and started me on a regime of physical therapy. That didn’t help. My aunt, who I mirror health wise, believed the pain in my groin to be arthritis in my hips. She had hip replacement surgery at just about the age I was then and said her pain started in her groin. I didn’t think that it was possible, so I ignored her advice.
For me, the sinus issue seemed to be the first issue to tackle. I decided to undergo sinus surgery. When the surgeon put me under, I had my first major episode of Atrial Fibrillation (Afib). I had been having minor episodes for months that my doctor said was “nerves.” The surgery was stopped and I didn’t go back. After that the race was on, literally. I had at least one Afib episode every day. Sometimes I would also have one at night and fall asleep praying that I would awake the next morning. My mother died at forty-one and I was pretty sure I wouldn’t live much longer. My aunt, who had also had Afib and ablation surgery, assured me I wasn’t going to die from the Afib.
I saw my aunt’s electrophysiologist for the Afib, tried medication and then decided on heart ablation surgery. When the electrophysiologist put me under for the heart ablation he didn’t need to stimulate my heart, I went into Afib.
The surgery was a success. I haven’t had any episodes of Afib since. I changed my diet, lost weight and started walking. My sinuses cleared up, but the pain in my groin continued. I had osteopathic manipulation and saw a chiropractor. No medical professional suggested a problem with my hips. My aunt’s words came back to me and during one session with the osteopathic manipulator, I asked if I could have structural problems in my hips. He stopped the manipulation and ordered x-rays. Sure enough, I had severe osteoarthritis in my left and moderate in my right. I needed a total hip replacement.
I was afraid of having a hip replacement. The two prior times when I went under for surgery, I went into Afib. So for a year and a half, I tried injections and medication. In her book, In a Heartbeat, my aunt Rosalie Ungar describes how her heart stopped during hip replacement surgery and she had a pacemaker inserted. I decided to have the hip replacement but not in our town that has quite capable orthopedic surgeons. I decided to go to the hospital where my ablation had been performed. All of my medical records were there and just in case something went wrong, the doctors would know what to do.
So here I am today. I am not saying this will be my last health issue but reading blogs like this and Rosalie Ungar’s book, In a Heartbeat, have helped me on my health journey.