recovery

Before I was released from the hospital, February 1st, they had to test my Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator to make sure it was in the right spot and show me what to look for when or if something were to go wrong.  They took me to a room that had a laptop type computer with a wand to “hook” me up to see how it was functioning. The nurse told me that she was going to tell me what she would be doing step by step so that I knew what to feel or not feel. I was so nervous! I even said to her, “You’re not going to shock me, to test it? are you?” she just giggled and said “No, they already did that when you were in surgery”. The nurse did some tests and I was getting a little nervous because I hadn’t felt anything yet, but she told me that I was going to feel my heart race. I couldn’t believe that this device could do this! and yet from a computer! I felt my heart pump faster, I was so afraid that she was going to make it go too fast then I would end up having a shock! but when I looked at the computer, it had shown my heart rate was only at 90, I knew it wouldn’t shock me. But I was still scared thou. Then she said that she was going to show me how it would feel if the battery is low or the lead from the ICD to the heart was not in place. She explained that it would feel like when your cell phone was on vibrate, and instead of feeling that vibration in your purse or pocket, I would feel it in my chest. Well let me tell you that was the weirdest feeling I had ever felt! The next weird feeling was the flutter, the flutter that would happen in my chest if my heart rate would go to 176, it would give me an ATP.  ATP is Anti-Tachycardia Pacing, which tries to pace the heart to its normal rhythm and if it doesn’t pace to the normal rhythm then it would give me an electrical shock to make the heart go back to its normal rhythm. The nurse then gave me a print out of my “settings”  which were that the ICD would watch my heart rate of 170 and at 176 it would give me an ATP and if it didn’t go back into rhythm then it would shock me.

I had stayed with K and M until I was ready to take the journey back to Manitoba. Before I took my journey back to Manitoba, I had yet another day that was going to be difficult. I wanted to meet the people who saved my life at the Rec Centre. I wanted to see the people who went with the voices that I heard that day, and to say “Thank you” for what they did for me. On February 7 th I faced the people who saved me, I cannot tell you the words to describe how I felt that day. How do you Thank someone for saving you? there are no words to completely say “Thank you” to someone who just gave you another chance at life.

Before I had walked in to the Rec Centre, I was very emotional. My emotions were so overwhelming that I had felt a flutter! I had felt my first ATP! I was so emotional that it had caused my heart rate to go high, so I tried to calm my self down and DC was there to hold me while I breathed. I was trying really hard to breathe and keep calm when I felt another flutter!(ATP) I had to keep my heart rate down because I knew if I didn’t, I would receive a shock. I didn’t want that to happen since it was only one week ago that I had the ICD implanted! I had finally calmed down enough to go in the building, they were waiting for me to come into the room where they were waiting. Well! I was so emotional that all I could do was cry. I think it was only for a few minutes that I cried, but it felt like a lifetime. I stood there looking in the faces of the lifeguards that saved my life and just cried, saying “Thank you”. I just didn’t know what else to say. What else would you say?  DC, K, and M were there with me and they just let me do what I needed to do. The lifeguards were so humble, they just kept on saying that they were happy to help and it was their “jobs” and that they were happy to see me alive. I told them I understand that it was their “job” but I felt that it wasn’t just their “job”. I felt that they were there for a reason, they were there to save me that day. After I had thanked the lifeguards, I knew that my recovery was going to be alright, that I was going to be alright. I wanted 2012 to start all over and start living, but when I got home something else happened………….

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.

“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.

some say luck, fate, I say “thank you”

As I left you off last post, I said I didn’t make it to the hot tub that day………………. I am going to tell you what happened that day…………………..

You know the saying “second chance?” I had my second chance with my Mitral Valve repair in 2004. My title “some say luck, fate, I say “thank you”, well I say “thank you” because that day I got a “third” chance at life.

January 24,2012.

I remember running on the treadmill in the fitness area, at the Rec Centre and while I was running there was an elderly couple that came to exercise beside me on a couple of stationary bikes. I remember because I apologized for the heavy running noise, the elderly woman laughed and said to me not to worry, and made a joke saying that they were part deaf anyways. I laughed, still ran on. I noticed that there was a gentleman working out with the weights diagonal from me, and I still ran on. I looked down to see where K was with the boys because the fitness area was above the pool so that you could look down and watch. I noticed a gentleman in the pool that I thought was K but it wasn’t. I panicked looking around for K and noticed that he was walking with the boys. I thought to myself “uh oh they are going to the hot tub already without me” and I wanted to finish my run. I looked at the clock, wanting to know what time it was and it said about 2:38? So I still ran, knowing that I only had about 6 or 9 mins left in my run. Then I looked to my left and noticed a blonde girl coming to run on the treadmill beside me, next thing I remember was looking forward and my vision went like when a television loses connection and it goes snowy, well it did, then it was black…………

The next thing I remember was someone saying my name over and over which I later found out it was K. A few moments later I hear a gentleman saying my name and asking me if I knew where I was. I mumbled the place, and he said that I had to keep the oxygen mask on, because I remember fighting it with them trying to put it on my face and then I hear sirens. While I was in the ambulance, K was on the phone to hubby DC, telling him that I had collapsed and was on my way to the hospital. DC was in the grocery store when he got the news and he was so shocked that he dropped everything and left to go tell our children that their mom was on her way to the hospital. DC didn’t know what to do, whether to just drop everything and get to me or wait to find out what was wrong with me first, because he was three provinces away. K also had called M to let her know what had happened, and that he was coming to get her. A lifeguard ended up watching the boys,and there were a couple of friends of K at the pool too that knew the boys and took over. Which was a relief to K since he needed to rush to the hospital as quickly as possible.

I arrived to the hospital and I remember a woman saying to me it’s alright, you’re alright and you’re going to feel a warm sensation, don’t worry you didn’t pee yourself. I was having a CT Scan done to check if there was any brain damage, and a X-ray to check for any broken ribs. I didn’t have any damage to either brain or ribs. The whole time I was in and out of consciousness I didn’t have my eyes open. I then remember hearing K talking to someone about my information, my name, where I lived etc. Then suddenly it was like someone turned on a light switch and I could open my eyes! I looked over and saw K standing beside me and he says to the nurse” could you pass me her glasses? she’s pretty blind with out them” and he gives them to me. I put them on and looked over to K saying “What happened?” “What happened?”. K came over to me, cried, hugged me and said “you collapsed”. I was really shocked at this moment because I only remember running on the treadmill and now here I am in the hospital???

I asked K what had happened over and over, it was probably more than 5 times within an hour or more and K was getting worried, looked over at the nurse and she said it was normal for people to have a little amnesia. K explained as much as he could about what had happened…….

K said when I collapsed, the elderly couple noticed that I had fallen in between the treadmills and was unconscious, so the elderly woman rushed to get help. A lifeguard came and started CPR, while the lifeguard was doing CPR there was another one getting the AED kit. The lifeguard with the AED kit came opened it up and it had said that it was needed. My heart had stopped. They put the AED on me used it. It brought me back. All of this happened less than 2 minutes. Another lifeguard had called 911 and the ambulance was on their way. Ambulance came. Ambulance took me to the hospital.

So, you can call it luck, fate for that day but…..

I say “thank you” because those lifeguards saved my life and gave my third chance.

the beginning

As I sit in front of my laptop to type out what was one of my most difficult days of my life……January 24,2012. From the beginning, I had told you before that I have become to love running, and after my half marathon back in Oct, I hadn’t run for almost 3 months. I was busy working and being lazy at the same time, so I decided to get back into running right after New Years. I was feeling right back where I had started when I started running, which I was thinking that I shouldn’t have stopped in the first place but at least I was starting back up again. I only ran 2 times before that day, January 5th and 10th, because I offered to help out my brother K and sister-in-law M.

M had gotten a new job, and they needed a sitter for a short while until they found a daycare or day home to watch their two boys. Plus I got a phone call from M that K had to go to the hospital, January 7th, because he couldn’t walk on his left leg. We found out that K had a DVT (blood clot) which worried me because he is only 35 yrs old. I was so glad that I was flying out to help out on the 10th since K wasn’t to work for a few days and try to get this blood clot to thin.

I flew to British Columbia where K & M live and everything was going great. I was helping out with the boys, who I adore, helping M around the house while she was at her new job and driving too since M doesn’t drive. K took me around “touring” which I must say no wonder they call it “Beautiful British Columbia” its beautiful! with all the mountains, orchards, lakes and there is just so much to see and do!

On January 24,2012, K was off that day and we decided to take the boys to a program called “Strong Start” where kids can go meet other kids, do arts and crafts etc. So we took the boys to Strong Start and we had a great morning. It was “gym” day and the boys got to use the gym equipment like the basketballs, hoola hoops, floor mats and scooters that you sit on and roll around the gym. K even had both boys on the scooters holding hoola hoops, and rolling them around, swinging them, they were having a blast! I had fun watching them laugh and smile too. After Strong Start we headed for home and had lunch, put the boys down for their short afternoon nap.

When the boys woke from their nap and we got them ready for the Rec Centre for a swim, I decided that I was going to get a run instead because I hadn’t done any running since the 10th.  I went up to the Fitness Centre which looked over the swimming pool so I could run and watch K swim with the boys. I decided to run 30 mins on the treadmill and when finished, I was going to meet K and the boys in the hot tub.

However, I didn’t make it down to the hot tub that day…………………………………………