Author Archives: Mark Layman

ATRIAL FIB … LESSONS LEARNED, Part 1

Rosalie Ungar is the author of IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib.


Triumphing over heart issues during a 35 year period and ‘home free’ of them the last 10 years, I thought that overcoming atrial fibrillation, repairing damage from 2 heart attacks, settling in with my 3rd pacemaker, enjoying the comfort of artificial hips and periodic checkups on all of them was enough for one person to assume freedom from life-threatening occurrences.

In addition, there was the diverticulitis, which turned out to be irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), back problems helped by trips to the chiropractor, and numbing of finger tips on the left hand which had been plaguing me for a couple of years. All of the above were nuisances, not a death sentence.

So, the fingers got worse and while I was getting my yearly checkup from electrophysiologist Dr. John Hummel, I asked if the numbness was heart related as all of my problems seemed to be on my left side. He said “probably not”, but that I should have it checked by a neurologist before the fingers on that hand became totally useless.

So, I did and after extensive testing, the result was proclaimed ‘carpal tunnel’ in serious need of treatment. And, the right hand was in trouble too. Not as bad as the left but should be treated too. The neurologist said the treatment would be an outpatient surgical procedure, usually easy to correct.

She made an appointment for me to see a hand surgeon. I had heard of, and even knew personally, people with this problem and was under the impression that it is not a ‘big deal.’ So I didn’t do my normal fact checking. The hand surgeon and staff made an appointment for 2 weeks later to have the procedure, but not before he said that I had put if off for so long that he could not guarantee that it would be completely successful, but that surgery would stop the hand from becoming worse.

The outpatient procedure was not bad and I was home and alert 3 hours later, hand wrapped in bandages that would come off in 5 days. Fingers were sticking out. Surgery was a 2 inch incision just below the wrist with 5 or 6 stitches.

Ten days later I went back to the surgeon with a scary complaint that the hand was worse. I had no feeling in any part of it at all. He was concerned. After his consultation with another hand doctor and their testing various parts of the hand with a sharp object they suggested that we wait 2 weeks to see if feeling started to come back. There was hope because a small section of the palm had some feeling.

Surgery on the other hand was canceled. If feeling in the left hand wasn’t restored and carpal tunnel repair was done on the right, even if it worked, the recovery period might leave me with 2 useless hands.

Lesson learned? When something in your body doesn’t work, don’t ignore it! Get it fixed or get treatment right away, especially if you have health insurance or Medicare coverage. I knew better but didn’t follow my own instincts.

If the carpal tunnel situation weren’t enough, I repeated a delayed reaction on another recent health problem with consequences. Read about it in next week’s blog, Atrial Fib…Lessons Learned, Part 2.

Meanwhile, read more in my memoir IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, electronically on Kindle, Nook, iTunes, Kobo and audiobook at Audible.com.

In a Heartbeat is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.
The book is also available at Barnes & Noble as a paperback and Nook book.
Digital versions are available on Kobo and iTunes.
Also available as audio book from Amazon.

Get the book here!
In a Heartbeat on AmazonIn a Heartbeat on Barnes and NobleIn a Heartbeat on KoboIn a Heartbeat on iTunes
In a Heartbeat on iTunes


Atrial Fib and Stress … Are They Related?

Rosalie Ungar is the author of IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib. This blog was first published on August 19, 2017.


How do you relieve stress? Now that I’ve been clear of A-fib for almost 10 years, it’s difficult to blame  stress. Plenty of it in today’s world but learning to contain or eliminate mental strain takes effort and sometimes the results are the biggest pleasures.

Take, for example, Oscar our Somali cat. Being a cat person myself, it was a blow to find out, when I fell in love with Ed 20 years ago, that he‘s always been allergic to cats. At the time I had 2 cats, a downer for continuing our relationship, but I married Ed anyway and my cats went to live with Megan, my great niece.

Seven years later Oscar came into our lives.

 

His breed is mostly hypo-allergenic and he hardly sheds, but we had to travel to Phoenix from Columbus to buy him from a special breeder for his Egyptian lineage. Oscar is 8 years old and the 3 of us are a family, apart from our 5 children and 10 grandchildren. We don’t dare have discourse in our household. It upsets Oscar. He’s social and wants to be around one or both of us always. He loves company and often performs for guests.  He’s an ‘in your face’ cat, but Ed’s allergy never bothers him around Oscar.

I have read and heard that pets are soothing and great stress relievers for older people. Dogs are great too but for me, I prefer cats. They’re less work. Oscar cleans and grooms himself, eats only cat food, plays and sleeps most of the day and uses an electric litter box.

Read about life before Oscar, IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups and Downs of Life with Atrial Fib, a memoir in paperback, e-book and audio book, available on line everywhere.

In a Heartbeat is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.
The book is also available at Barnes & Noble as a paperback and Nook book.
Digital versions are available on Kobo and iTunes.
Also available as audio book from Amazon.

Get the book here!
In a Heartbeat on AmazonIn a Heartbeat on Barnes and NobleIn a Heartbeat on KoboIn a Heartbeat on iTunes
In a Heartbeat on iTunes


Atrial Fib … Too Close to Home

Rosalie Ungar is the author of IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib.


My husband, Ed, was diagnosed with atrial fib just over a month ago. At 82 he is extremely fortunate not to have any chronic problems for which he needs medication and he takes only one prescription med, a water pill for slightly elevated blood pressure. His weight is perfect and he exercises 3 or 4 times a week. We eat a healthy diet, though I eat more vegetables than he does.

His only inpatient stay in a hospital was in 1941 when he had his tonsils removed. Now he is dealing with a problem that I had for 35 years, but which I have not had since my cardiac ablation 11 years ago. You can read about it in my memoir IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups and Downs of Life with Atrial Fib.

Ed’s heart arrhythmia was discovered during a routine checkup by his internist who immediately recommended that he get an echocardiogram and referred him to an electrophysiologist. An echocardiogram or echo is a test that uses high frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to make pictures of your heart. Also called echocardiography, it shows the size, structure and movement of various parts of the heart.

For the echo and follow up, Ed was able to get an appointment with my electrophysiologist, Dr. John Hummel. Results of Dr. Hummel’s examination show atrial fib. There may be other things happening suggesting immediate testing must be done:

  • A blood thinner was started to protect Ed in case of stroke. Most A-fib patients are on one. I was on warfarin for 12 years, but not anymore since no longer having A-fib.
  • Ed is wearing a monitor for 30 days taped to his chest where the data on heart activity is recorded and goes to a data center, notifying his doctor if problems occur. The doctor then gets in touch with Ed. This has happened twice. Both times, he was informed that he was in atrial fib.
  • After the 30 days of monitoring, Ed has to take a home sleep apnea test. That’s coming up.
  • Following the sleep apnea test Ed will go through a 4 hour stress test.

Once all this is completed, a plan of action will be created. Ed is experienced. He has gone through all of this with me. His attitude is good and he is knowledgeable about the treatment and medication and knows that preventing a stroke is key. Other than that, atrial fib is not a death sentence…and neither is a stroke if precautions are taken. However, an adjustment to one’s daily habits may be necessary. Can do! Even Ed who’s never had a serious illness in his life. Attitude is everything.

Read more about life with atrial fib in my memoir IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups and Downs of Life with Atrial Fib. Click on the icons below for your paperback, or electronic read or audiobook.

In a Heartbeat is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.
The book is also available at Barnes & Noble as a paperback and Nook book.
Digital versions are available on Kobo and iTunes.
Also available as audio book from Amazon.

Get the book here!
In a Heartbeat on AmazonIn a Heartbeat on Barnes and NobleIn a Heartbeat on KoboIn a Heartbeat on iTunes
In a Heartbeat on iTunes


Atrial Fib … ”All Diseases Begin in the Gut” – Hippocrates: Connection or Not?

This blog was first posted on April 15, 2018. Rosalie Ungar is the author of IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib.


After 81 years of body maintenance and repair, I thought that I could relax and enjoy life and do what I want, eat what I want and continue at the same pace as before. Not necessarily.

I have triumphed over heart problems including 2 heart attacks, 3 pacemakers, a robotic bypass and 36 years of atrial fib. Along the way were 2 hip replacements, cataracts and Hepatitis A. Now new wrinkles to deal with…excuse the pun…that too.

For the last few years along with acid reflux in the upper digestive system, I’ve developed lower digestive problems related to the colon and intestines. They were subtle at first. Acid reflux was the easiest to manage except from early on I mistook it for heart problems.

The lower abdominal problems were next. Diverticulosis produced pockets in the colon that can be managed by reducing stress and possibly diet. I’m working on both by eating uncomplicated foods in small quantities and adjusting my thought processes to ignore that which I can do nothing about.

The most recent problem occurred 6 months after my 80th birthday: pain in the left hip. Oh no, I thought. Initially I was told that replacements would last 12 to 15 years. Mine have lasted almost 20. The orthopedic doctor’s x-rays concluded that the hip replacements were fine. My problem is tendonitis which takes a ‘long time’ to heal. The doctor offered an anti-inflammatory drug that produced more stomach problems to my already sensitive “gut”.

Next: the fingers on my left hand became numb and tingled. It’s difficult to put on jewelry, button my clothes, open jars and plastic bottles. I asked electrophysiologist Dr. Hummel if this is related to heart problems. He doesn’t think so and suggested I see a neurologist.

The most recent problems are on the left side of my body where besides the tendonitis, colon, lower intestine, and numb fingers are the lower back aches almost constantly. I figured that this is from lack of exercise due to tendonitis.

All of the above was concluded by Certified Nurse Practitioner, Sasha Oumanets, at OSU Wexner Medical Center division of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition. My appointment with her was the most informative discussion between patient and medical professional that I could ever imagine and hope for.

In conclusion she offered this advice, “Why don’t you see a Chiropractor? All of these problems seem to be located on the left side. Maybe they are all related.”

Find out what happened with the Chiropractor. Meanwhile, check out IN A HEARTBEAT, The Ups and Downs of Life with Atrial Fib

In a Heartbeat is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.
The book is also available at Barnes & Noble as a paperback and Nook book.
Digital versions are available on Kobo and iTunes.
Also available as audio book from Amazon.

Get the book here!
In a Heartbeat on AmazonIn a Heartbeat on Barnes and NobleIn a Heartbeat on KoboIn a Heartbeat on iTunes
In a Heartbeat on iTunes


Rosalie Ungar is the author of IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib.


No Sex in St Tropez by Rosalie Ungar

Atrial Fib and the Nap

Rosalie Ungar is the author of IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib. This post was first published on April 7, 2018.


I once referred to sleeping in the daytime, a nap, as a precious waste of time. I have since changed my mind as with many of my own discoveries from forty or fifty years ago when life was a merry-go-round and I didn’t want to get off.

Mentioning this proclamation in my first memoir, NO SEX IN ST. TROPEZ, written about 1974 Europe, I experienced the short (30 minutes) afternoon rest or snooze while living and working in a French home. After lunch, the major meal of most days, we all retired to the bedrooms or the living room couch or porch lounge for quiet time…the parents, children, aunt, the cat and me.

I rarely slept. Instead I wrote letters or entries in my journal. After naptime, we had a strong cup of French coffee then everyone went on with the day going back to work or shopping or the beach. Shops closed during naptime.

During the last few years between 2:30 and 4:00 PM my memory (short term mostly) doesn’t work as well as it did that morning. I figured that it was the morning exercise that exhausted me, but memory and productivity was even worse on days I didn’t exercise. The work outs became a stimulant for an extra hour or two in the afternoon especially after a short nap.

Finally I saw what was happening when I noticed that along with others we were fighting the aging process. My bouts with atrial fib forced me to rest. Read more about it…IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups and Downs of Life with Atrial Fib–Here

My list for successful naps:

  • Sit in a comfy chair or recliner. Don’t lie down in bed. This tells your body you are taking a nap, not going in for the night. Don’t turn on the TV.
  • Set the clock for 30 to 40 minutes. I use my Smart Phone timer. When it goes off, it’s gentle. It won’t scare you out of the chair.
  • Sleep for 15 or 20 minutes only. It may take you 5 or 10 minutes to fall asleep, but you must clear your mind and not think anything negative or with pressure.
  • Sometimes I fall into a deep sleep, sometimes a light sleep calling it surface sleeping.
  • Upon waking up, try not to jump up with a jolt. I like to get up slowly. By sitting quietly for a few minutes, it gets the mind and body in sync.
  • It’s not until later that the value of that nap is realized. Without the nap, I’m ready for bed after dinner. With the nap I feel better with dinner and for several hours after dinner before retiring for the night.
  • If we have plans to go out for dinner, an event or guests coming over, I can handle it if I’d had a nap. If not, I’m grumpy and little dumb things bother me, using the energy I need somewhere else
  • Best of all, sleep is better that night waking up refreshed the next day.
  • Good sleep is a key to good health, especially good heart health.

Next week’s blog tackles ‘the gut’:

“All disease begins in the gut”– Hippocrates

In a Heartbeat is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.
The book is also available at Barnes & Noble as a paperback and Nook book.
Digital versions are available on Kobo and iTunes.
Also available as audio book from Amazon.

Get the book here!
In a Heartbeat on AmazonIn a Heartbeat on Barnes and NobleIn a Heartbeat on KoboIn a Heartbeat on iTunes
In a Heartbeat on iTunes


ATRIAL FIB: Managing Your Meds

Rosalie Ungar is the author of IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib. This blog was first posted on September 24, 2017.


Chances are that those diagnosed with atrial fib, or any heart related problem, are taking medication(s). Many of us have other health problems for which we take more meds and some of us take supplements as well.

Managing them can be a full time job…an important one. A friend of mine once told me that she was tired of taking pills. She decided to take Sundays off from her meds.

When asking others what specific medications or medications in general they take, I have often heard from them, “I don’t know. The doctor told me to take it. So, I do.”

I have a tough time understanding this philosophy. I am not a doctor. Having health issues for most of my 81 years, none of my issues are cured. They are managed because I want to be in charge. I credit my doctors who partner with me and I ask a lot of questions.

Here are some suggestions to help manage meds:

    • Ask your doctor what the prescriptions he recommends are for precisely. What is the brand name and is there a generic available for that drug? Example: Eliquis, a blood thinner is also known as its generic version apixaban.

 

    • What are its side effects?

 

    • How often and what time of day should it be taken? (Some heart meds are suggested to be taken at night before bed.)

 

    • Is it compatible with other meds, even supplements? Also, ask your pharmacist this question. If not compatible, would a waiting period before taking other meds with it be advised?

 

    • What if you miss a dose? This can be avoided if you schedule your meds by week and by day using a Sunday thru Saturday pill box for each day of the week. I have 3 such pill boxes and fill them for a 3 week cycle. This also helps you keep track of when you will run out and can judge reordering.

 

    • On a budget? By sorting meds for 3 weeks, you can schedule ordering to coincide with your payment needs. Many pharmaceutical companies have coupons available and help patients with other needs. Check this out on the internet. Above all, partner with your doctors, be in charge and make friends with your pharmacist.

 

All of this and more is covered with detail IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib, the memoir that reads like a novel.

In a Heartbeat is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.
The book is also available at Barnes & Noble as a paperback and Nook book.
Digital versions are available on Kobo and iTunes.
Also available as audio book from Amazon.

Get the book here!
In a Heartbeat on AmazonIn a Heartbeat on Barnes and NobleIn a Heartbeat on KoboIn a Heartbeat on iTunes
In a Heartbeat on iTunes


Atrial Fib … We Get Mail

Rosalie Ungar is the author of IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib. This blog was first published on July 29, 2018.


Today’s blog is a letter from a reader in San Francisco. With her permission I have reprinted it for atrial fib patients and their families to share and for readers of IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib. Mary has accomplished much by being an advocate for herself in managing her atrial fib and partnering with her doctors. Read what she has to say.

July 17, 2018

Hi Rosalie,

I just read your inspiring memoir of your struggles with afib and more besides and wanted to share my thoughts. I too have had a difficult journey, much of it very similar to yours, starting with atenolol and ending with the dreaded amiodarone, with all of the ‘ide’ drugs in between that either didn’t work or caused problems with the QT interval or the liver. The warfarin I didn’t mind as much and the ability to test at home makes a huge difference.

I now feel very fortunate that my afib was managed quite well by drugs up until a few years ago and the few episodes I had now and then weren’t quite as debilitating.

I have to say though that the 10 hour surgery to replace my valves and subsequent recovery was no picnic. I remember the pulmonary edema quite vividly. My hopes for fixing my afib were also dashed when the Maze procedure they performed at the same time did not work. Ablation was my only hope at that point.

I also saw another Electro Physiologist from Texas who had a monthly clinic in San Francisco. However, for various reasons, I ended up with my regular EPs at UCSF and I am glad I did. I was told frequently that my particular form of afib (both flutter and fib) was very complex and very challenging to ablate successfully.

They were very careful to set my expectations very low…50% was about as high as they would go. So of course it didn’t work and I scheduled another one. In the meantime I had to have my gall bladder out.

My second (and final they told me) ablation took place last September and lo and behold I stayed in sinus for 3 months. I finally went off amiodarone in December. I’ve only been on it for 5 years but was very nervous the whole time.

I was so glad to read that your ablation has worked for so long. I was told 2 years but I’m hopeful. I retired 3 years ago and have been exercising like a fiend. I can’t do push-ups yet but hope to one day. I’m told I’m quite tiny so no reason I can’t.

Thank you for sharing your story.

Thank you Mary.

I welcome any other readers and writers to guest blog about atrial fib and other heart issues. Send a message to me rosalie@rosalieungar.com.

In a Heartbeat is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.
The book is also available at Barnes & Noble as a paperback and Nook book.
Digital versions are available on Kobo and iTunes.
Also available as audio book from Amazon.

Get the book here!
In a Heartbeat on AmazonIn a Heartbeat on Barnes and NobleIn a Heartbeat on KoboIn a Heartbeat on iTunes
In a Heartbeat on iTunes


ATRIAL FIB: Are You In Denial?

Rosalie Ungar is the author of IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib. This blog was first published on December 31, 2017.


I read that 130,000 people Google the term “atrial fib or atrial fibrillation” each month. Who are they? Some may have felt irregular heartbeats themselves or heart palpitations or have family members that have been diagnosed with A-Fib. If it doesn’t happen again for a long time do they forget about it? Maybe. Could it have happened again and they didn’t feel it? How many times? They’ll never know.

I don’t have answers to those questions. I am not a doctor. I can only tell you what happened to me when I first felt an “irregular heartbeat” at age 43 in the early 1980s. I took my pulse and couldn’t get a steady beat, so I stopped taking my pulse. A few hours later it was regular. A few months later I had my annual checkup and the doctor told me that I was in atrial fib.  “What’s that?” I asked. He said that it could cause a stroke. I had other unrelated health problems to worry about.

It happened again in my endocrinologist’s office. He made an appointment for me with a cardiologist. I was under her care for 20 years. It kept happening, more and more. Now I felt it.

Nothing could be done except to keep the blood thin to avoid a stroke and take anti-arrhythmia drugs that only partially worked. I was told that one doesn’t die from atrial fibrillation but that strokes can be fatal. Blood thinners were to be taken to keep the blood from clotting which can cause a stroke.

So, in the year 2000 when I had a heart attack, I was told that it was unrelated to my atrial fib. What’s more, further tests showed that I had previously had a smaller heart attack. I remembered it about 6 weeks earlier, intense pain in the middle of my chest, but it went away. I felt tired for days after. I didn’t call my doctor.

I had been in denial. I could have died. I didn’t know that living through a heart attack causes unrepairable damage to the heart muscle, diminishing its effectiveness. I had atrial fib and a damaged heart. New discoveries were made to help patients deal with A-Fib and even ablate it altogether. New devices were invented to control and eliminate A-Fib. More work is being done

I became an advocator and devoted myself to accepting and repairing my heart. I HAVE NOW REVERSED ALL HEART DAMAGE DONE BY THE HEART ATTACKS.  Here’s how I did it:

  • Paying attention to my medications, what they do, their side effects, compatibility with other drugs, asking questions and getting to know my pharmacists.
  • Starting an exercise program that has become part of my life at least 3 times a week.
  • Having a heart ablation procedure that eliminated electrical pathways causing A-Fib.
  • Continuing a heart healthy diet that began even before atrial fib.
  • Partnering and communicating with my doctors.

I had atrial fib for more than 35 years. Now I don’t, but that doesn’t mean it won’t appear again. It started out slowly for me. It got worse as time went on. I check my pulse twice every day. Get treatment. It’s so much easier than dealing with a stroke.

In a Heartbeat is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.
The book is also available at Barnes & Noble as a paperback and Nook book.
Digital versions are available on Kobo and iTunes.
Also available as audio book from Amazon.

Get the book here!
In a Heartbeat on AmazonIn a Heartbeat on Barnes and NobleIn a Heartbeat on KoboIn a Heartbeat on iTunes
In a Heartbeat on iTunes


ATRIAL FIB: How Do You Know?

Rosalie Ungar is the author of IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib. This blog was first published on November 26, 2017.


Take your pulse. Do you know how?  Could we learn from watching Law & Order on TV as detectives quickly check a body for a pulse? That’s tricky.

The question I get from readers or fellow A-Fib patients is, “How do you know if you’re in it?”

You don’t always, according to my doctors and from my own personal experiences. The first time I recognized what was known as ‘irregular heartbeat’ was when a fitness instructor told my class to cool down with a moderate walk while taking the pulse. I couldn’t find mine. When I did, it felt like a bird fluttering its wings. I was 43 years old. It was 1980. I was too young and full of energy to worry about it and didn’t think about it for a few years when it became noticeable.

I was lucky. It could have resulted in a stroke. Instead I got treatment from a cardiologist and later an electrophysiologist. That journey is documented in my memoir, IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib.

My mother taught me how to take my pulse when I was a child. She was a nurses’ aide at a blood mobile during World War Two. More recently I’ve discovered that many people don’t know how to take their pulse, including a worker at an assisted living facility where I was giving a talk about my book.

The pulse can be checked at several places in your body. For me, it’s easiest to check at my wrist under the thumb by placing 2 fingers of the opposite hand between the bone and the tendon on the thumb side of the inside wrist. Never use your thumb because it has its own pulse that may interfere.

Other places for checking pulse and rhythms are high up on the neck between the neck and the ear (this is called the carotid pulse) and more difficult body parts such as top of the foot, the groin or behind the knee.

When you find your pulse, check the rhythm by counting the beats in a minute, so you need a watch or clock with a second hand. You can count the beats in 15 seconds and multiply by 4 or take it for a full 60 seconds.

If you want further proof that you have bouts of A-Fib, or for some who are in A-Fib all of the time and don’t feel it, discuss installing a ‘loop’ with your doctor.  My guest blogger, Lisa Eliason, wrote a blog about the loop on this website a few weeks ago.

The most reliable way to check is still the EKG, which is usually available in a clinic or physician’s office.

I had atrial fib for more than 35 years. Now I don’t, but that doesn’t mean it won’t appear again. It started out slowly for me. It got worse as time went on. I check my pulse twice every day. Get treatment. It’s so much easier than dealing with a stroke.

In a Heartbeat is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.
The book is also available at Barnes & Noble as a paperback and Nook book.
Digital versions are available on Kobo and iTunes.
Also available as audio book from Amazon.

Get the book here!
In a Heartbeat on AmazonIn a Heartbeat on Barnes and NobleIn a Heartbeat on KoboIn a Heartbeat on iTunes
In a Heartbeat on iTunes


Atrial Fib … Details

Rosalie Ungar is the author of IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib.


At a Healing Hearts meeting earlier this year, an audience member approached me about a problem she was having with her electrophysiologist. She’s a regular at these monthly meetings and she had read my book, IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib, a memoir  that covers my 35 years with atrial fibrillation. This is my story which focuses a great deal on patient/doctor relationships. I am not a doctor and this is not a medical book.

The woman from Healing Hearts had also heard me speak, together with my electrophysiologist, at more than one of these meetings. Many years younger than I am, she asked me in a private conversation what I would suggest she do about her electrophysiologist with whom she was having a difficult time communicating and with whom she was losing confidence. She wanted to change physicians and was afraid. At this point she considered changing hospitals.

This is a subject that other readers had inquired about. I suggested that so long as she is being treated at a major heart hospital she not change hospitals, but that she seriously consider changing her electrophysiologist. Most of the time the doctor is aware that there is a communication problems and is agreeable to the change. He or she may suggest or recommend another one. It so happens that at our heart hospital there is an ample staff of skilled physicians in cardiology and electrophysiology.

In making a change, here are my suggestions, but first do your homework:

  • Know exactly what your own heart problem is and what your options could be to correct or maintain good health. Know your own heart history and other physical problems that could be related as well as past surgeries or procedures.
  • Know what medications you are taking by both generic and branded names and why you are taking them. Know the dosage and look up on line their side effects and compatibility with other meds you take, what time of day you take them and what happens if you miss a dose or stop taking them. You should carry a list of them with you at all times. You can do it as an app on your phone, or a printed list in your wallet.
  • Know your own body and what you put into it. Be honest. Take someone with you on your appointments as another set of ears. Document your questions and the answers you receive.
  • Look up on the hospital website all the doctors in the category. Get familiar with them first by reading about them and if you have heard them speak or know others that go to them, do some inquiring.
  • If you are afraid to speak directly to the doctor you wish to replace, confide in a pleasant manor with one of your other doctors or nurses about your dilemma. Ask them to  direct you in how to make an easy change. Possibly one of the others will intervene for you.

My friend who approached me about making a change has done so. I saw her at last month’s Healing Hearts meeting. She was smiling as she told me that she replaced the electrophysiologist with someone on staff that is satisfactory and the change in medications recently prescribed makes her feel better and that she has been scheduled for an ablation for atrial fib. I hope to see her at next month’s meeting. I’ll let you know how it works out.

In a Heartbeat is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.
The book is also available at Barnes & Noble as a paperback and Nook book.
Digital versions are available on Kobo and iTunes.
Also available as audio book from Amazon.

Get the book here!
In a Heartbeat on AmazonIn a Heartbeat on Barnes and NobleIn a Heartbeat on KoboIn a Heartbeat on iTunes
In a Heartbeat on iTunes