A-Fib … Not a Death Sentence

Rosalie Ungar is the author of IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib. This post was first published on March 10, 2018.

By guest blogger Lisa Eliason

Lisa Eliason has been a guest blogger here twice. Her blogs have attracted readers in all phases of A-Fib. Lisa’s heart problems, anxieties and solutions have mirrored mine. Maybe they will help you overcome yours. Here is her latest.

I was visiting my sister-in-law the first time I had an A-Fib episode. I said my good nights and retired to the bedroom. I was in bed for a few minutes when my heart started to race. I was alone and I knew exactly what was happening. I was experiencing atrial fibrillation.

My mother’s sister, whom I follow very closely genetically, had A-Fib and I had heard her talk of it. I debated whether to call my husband or wake my sister-in-law. I was scared. Finally I fell asleep repeating my childhood prayer, ‘If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.’

I awoke in the morning with no irregular heart beat that I could feel. I was only 57 years old.

Over the next several months I would experience more episodes. My family doctor thought stress was the culprit and wanted to prescribe anti-anxiety medication. During a minor surgery my heart started to race and the surgery was aborted. I awoke to the surgeon looking ashen and nurses frantically awaiting a cardiologist.

Over the next several months I saw numerous specialists and wore a Holter Heart Monitor but it didn’t catch the A-Fib episodes. Many times the episodes came at night when my husband was traveling for work. It was during those times that I was the most terrified and sure that this was a death sentence.

I repeated this to my aunt who assured me I was not going to die and recommended an electrophysiologist at Ross Heart Hospital, Dr. John Hummel. Dr. Hummel is the rock star of electrophysiologists. On my first visit he outlined two plans of action: medication to slow the heart rate or heart ablation surgery. I first chose the medication and at times my heart rate slowed to 35 beats per minute. On a subsequent visit I had a loop recorder surgically implanted to catch the A-Fib episodes, then decided on heart ablation surgery. The surgery was a success and I have been A-Fib free for three years.

The key to my success was knowledge. Knowledge is power. I studied A-Fib on my own and read blogs just like this. Perhaps the most important part of the journey was talking to someone else experiencing A-Fib and being assured that A-Fib was not the death sentence I thought it to be.

Thanks Lisa. Your information is so important.

You can also read IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib on audio books at Audible.com, Amazon.com or in paperback available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or ebook from Kindle, Nook, iTunes or Kobo. Just click here or on one of the icons below.

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