>> Saturday, August 02, 2014
If you've been watching on Facebook or Twitter, you've seen it's been a bit of a scary week for us.
Monday night, my wife didn't sleep more than a few hours because her heart just started racing. With her stethoscope, she said it sounded like a freight train. She could be doing nothing, and then she'd feel a THUMP in her chest and then it'd race to 120-180 beats / minute for a while.
So at 5 a.m. on Tuesday morning, she drove to the hospital. They gave her some IV fluids and wanted to watch her for a bit. She was hoping to be discharged a few hours later, but that didn't happen. Henry and I came to visit after I dropped Charlie off at the neighbors':
From Instagram: "Just visited Mama in the hospital. She went in at 5 this morning
with lots of heart flutters, and had another episode since then. She's
hoping to be able to spend the night with her boys. Keep her in your prayers!"
Hoping for a discharge soon...
From Instagram: "Mama was happy to see her boys this morning.
Had a lot of heart flutters overnight (out of nowhere her heart rate jumps to 130),
so she might be in for another night in the hospital."
Then I got a good/bad phone call on Wednesday afternoon. It was Pharmie. She just bluntly said "Oh, they've proven that it's atrial flutter and they're going in to burn that part of my heart to calm it down. I'll be having a cardiac ablation. They have an opening right now. So I'll be wheeled into surgery in about 5 minutes. **background murmurs** Oh, I guess they're taking me now." What? My voice quivered but tried to hold it together. It's a pretty routine thing, but some stranger was about to f*ck with my wife's heart. I freaked out a bit when I got off the phone. (I'm not trying to make this all about me - SHE was the one about to get a probe through her thigh and up to her heart. I'm just sharing my part of this. My feelings really don't matter here - I know.)
SIDE NOTE: Do you know how they proved it was atrial flutter and not atrial fibrillation? (Flutter is one part of the heart misfiring, and fibrillation is more all over the heart.) They pump a drug hard and fast into an IV that will slow and possibly stop your heart. But as my pharmacist wife knows (if you didn't know, that's why she goes by "Pharmie" on the internet), the drug has like a 10 second half-life, so your body clears it really quickly. So if your heart DOES stop beating, it should start right back up in a few seconds. SHOULD. Scary stuff. She felt it work - her legs instantly felt heavy, and she said "whoaaaaaaaa," and then it was all normal again after 3 breaths.
Anyway, Pharmie's sister Steph was going to be over in an hour to watch Henry. Monica had Charlie at the hospital already. I went outside and trimmed the bushes and did any kind of hard physical labor that I could do to keep my mind off the fact that my wife had a 3-foot-long laser in her body sent in through her groin that was cooking part of her heart. Steph showed up and I actually felt better right away. She got settled in, I quick took a rag to all my sweat and dirt, and I got to the hospital. I took Charlie from Monica for a while, and we just paced the halls together as I talked to him about his Mama.
Pharmie's nurse helped Monica and I gather her things because she was going to be in a different room once her procedure was complete. We got moved and then her doctor who did the procedure found us. All had gone well! He cooked the part of the heart that he needed to, and he felt confident in what he had done. Monica (a long-time nurse) really liked him and how he described everything. (Later, Monica told us something to the effect of "you know, HCMC gets a bad rap for being the 'county hospital,' but I've always been impressed with everyone here.") A minute or 2 later, we spotted Pharmie rolling down the hall in her bed with 4-5 doctors/nurses around her. She was doing great.
She felt better right away. She was exhausted from her heart beating so hard for so long, but felt instant relief after the procedure. I went home with Charlie, got him to bed, kissed Henry as Steph was putting him to bed (and got licked by Henry because he saw chimps licking each other in his book so he had to lick me and Steph), and came back for 2 hours with supper for Pharmie. I helped her pump her breasts because she had to stay horizontal and not move 1 leg for a few hours. (Seriously, breast pumping horizontally is more than tricky!) I brushed her retainer, helped her get ready for bed, and left so she could rest. She got some GOOD SLEEP that night (Wednesday night). Monica stayed in our room again and took care of Charlie when he needed a bottle at 3:30 a.m.
Monica went to the hospital Thursday morning, and I soon got good news from my wife:
Running down the Greenway Trail.
Ready to go!
Playing with Cranky the Crane (a Thomas the Train character) on our way back from the gym.
In the end, it's a pretty routine procedure to simply cut a short-circuiting impulse in the heart, but it's still scary as hell when it's happening to a loved one. Pharmie told me afterwards that her Doc was telling her beforehand that there's a "slight chance of something happening - around 1 in 100." Pharmie hoped it was more like 1 in 1000. If he burned too much, it could punch a hole in her heart. Or she'd possibly need a pacemaker. But he nailed it, and she's resting up. Life is good.
BIG THANKS to Monica, Steph, Rachel, and everyone else who offered to help out! And to all of Pharmie's team who worked on her and her colleagues who visited her in the hospital. Thanks!
p.s. I nearly forgot to mention that Pharmie's 12 weeks of maternity leave are up on Monday. But she has doctor's orders to take a few more days off, so it won't be until Thursday that I'm spending my first day home alone with my dudes.