something foreign

After I had my angiogram, I had to have drug challenge tests done to see if I had Brugada Syndrome or Long QT Syndrome. I had never heard of these syndromes before and the Cardiologists had explained each to me. Brugada Syndrome is a genetic disease and can be found by an abnormal electrocardiogram (ECG) and an increased risk of sudden cardiac death. Long QT Syndrome is a disorder of the heart’s electrical activity and it can cause sudden, uncontrollable, dangerous arrhythmias in response to exercise or stress. They say that people who have Long QT syndrome can have arrhythmias for unknown reasons. However, not everyone who has Long QT syndrome has dangerous heart rhythms but if and when they do occur, they can be fatal.

The Brugada syndrome the test was done as a ECG with medication, where they put the probes on your chest that record the electrical impulses that make your heart beat, and these electrical signals can help them detect irregularities in your heart’s rhythm and structure. Your heart rhythm can change and sometimes the ECG may not detect the abnormal heart rhythm so that’s why the doctor gave it with medication thru my IV. That test came up negative.

The Long QT syndrome test was done as a nonexercise medication stress test. An ECG test is performed while you are given medication that stimulates your heart in a similar way to exercise. This drug was also inserted into my IV. The drug has an adrenaline substance that your body releases in response to stress. So in this stress test, the doctors monitor the effects of this adrenaline on the way my heart recharges. They said that this test can unmask in some people what is known as concealed Long QT syndrome which is a normal Q-T interval at rest. Doctors also said that some people who have Long QT syndrome, fainting spells are sometimes triggered by sudden bursts of adrenaline in the body, such as intense exercise or emotional upset. That test came up negative.

They did all the testing that they thought that they could do for me and still had no answers on why I had collapsed that fateful day. The Doctors were stumped! because the tests came up negative, they decided that they wanted to have a genetic test done for Long QT syndrome.(which I had a consultation on May 9th) Meanwhile they had discussed putting something foreign in my body. The foreign something is a device called an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD). An ICD?? I was given a manual, (well I call it a manual) it’s a pretty thick booklet on this device and I couldn’t believe what I read! The definition of an ICD is a small battery-powered electrical impulse generator which is implanted in patients who are at risk of sudden cardiac death due to ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia. The device is programmed to detect cardiac arrhythmia and correct it by delivering a jolt of electricity. A shock? I was scared when I read that!

After all the discussing with doctors and my family, it was best that I had this implanted due to the nature that they had no answers why I collapsed and it possibly could happen again. And if it did happen again, who knows if I would survive? On January 31 they had implanted the ICD. The first picture is what the device looks like outside the body and the other pictures are the healing process of inside my body.

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“miracle”

When I last left you, I was in the hospital…………….. doctors had requested some blood work, what they called Blood Gas, it’s supposed to check your blood levels and they have to draw it out of your main artery. Which hurts because they took it out of my wrist.

The Doctor said they were keeping me over night for observation. I told them that they didn’t need to keep me over night, that I was fine and that I just fainted. The Doctor held my arm and looked at me, said “No you didn’t just faint, you suffered Sudden Death”.  I just sat there in the hospital bed in shock. Just thinking to myself, really?? Sudden Death?? I really thought I just had fainted. The Doctor then said that I was going to see a Cardiologist in the morning, to see what we should do next.

I won’t lie, trying to sleep in a hospital is not easy let alone try to sleep when all of this happened. I was in shock still and they gave me a sedative to help me sleep. However, I had so much adrenaline that the sedative didn’t stay down. The nurse said that I had an allergic reaction to the sedative. I was actually scared to sleep, because I thought if I had supposedly suffered this “Sudden Death”, who’s to say that if I go to sleep and I don’t wake up? It actually took me a few days before I could sleep and when I did sleep it was every 2-3 hrs so it wasn’t all that great either but it was some rest.

The next morning the Cardiologist came in and discussed what he thought and clarified it to Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome. He also said that I was a “miracle” because only 1% of the population get this and out of that 1%, less than 1 % survive. Well talk about shock! plus I still couldn’t get over the fact that I had “died” so to speak. So that evening they airlifted me to another hospital. I was airlifted to another hospital because the hospital I was at didn’t have all the equipment, for Cardiologists to do intensive testing with my heart. That was the first night I spent by myself with out DC and K. I must admit it was really hard not to have them there, since they hadn’t left my side. I didn’t sleep well that night.

In the morning they already got the intensive testing started. I was so nervous because DC and K weren’t there right away, they had to drive, it was going to take them 6 hrs and I wasn’t sure exactly what they were going to do . My first test that they did was an angiogram. I have heard of angiograms before because my grandmother had this done. She told me that they went in her main artery in her leg, and in her arm, well when I remembered that, I was so scared! Scared that it was going to hurt! No matter how many needles I have had, I still get scared of them. The nurses told me what exactly they were going to do, that they were going to freeze my wrist and use the main artery. Then they were going to put a tube up with a camera and dye to see if there were any blockage in the heart. Well let me tell you, I think that I would have rather had my three kids, open heart surgery and the Blood Gas done again instead! It was so painful! I couldn’t feel the poke but I could feel the tube go up my arm to my heart. After they did it I remember thinking to myself, wow! my grandmother did this three times???  twice in the arm and once in the leg!! I knew I had more respect for her after that!

The test results of that came clear, had no blockage at all. Thank goodness! On to the next test!!

What my arm looked like after the angiogram, the top picture was when they took the plastic bracelet off to keep the pressure on my artery and bandaged it up, the bottom one was when they took the bandage off.