Some of you who have been reading here for a while might remember that I’ve been having trouble off and on for years with something SVTs or supraventricular tachycardia. It’s when a nerve in the heart misfires and causes it to beat irregularly and fast (180-200 beats per minute) and sometimes requires a ER visit to reset it. It’s caused by a nerve in the heart misfiring.
The first time it happened severely enough to go to the ER, they sent me to a heart doctor for tests, and he told me about a procedure called an ablation, in which they go up through a blood vessel in the groin to the heart and “zap” the offending nerve with a laser.
But since I wasn’t having these attacks all that often, and the dr. said they weren’t life-threatening, I decided to wait. A few years after the initial attack, my general practice doctor started me on a medication to try to keep it in check. But now they are happening more often – several times a week. The medicine they have me on usually keeps it from going into a full-blown episode, but I finally decided enough was enough and I needed to go ahead and have this done. I’m kicking myself now for not doing it years ago, but can’t help that now.
They tell me this has nothing to do with heart disease or blockage – it’s just a problem with the electrical part of the heart. The ablation is an outpatient procedure, so I should be home that night, but they told me to bring an overnight bag just in case. One risk is if they “zap” too much or in certain areas, they might have to put in a pacemaker, but they said that happens in less than 5% of cases. It’s usually a safe and effective procedure, though there are risks with anything like that.
I have a few specific concerns. First, I have to go off the medications I am on for SVTs this week, so I am hoping I don’t have any flare-ups between now and the procedure. Secondly, the day of the procedure I don’t even go in til 11 a.m., which means the actual surgery probably won’t be til a couple of hours later. I don’t have diabetes, but I do have episodes of low blood sugar. Usually I can’t go past 10 or so without eating or else I experience dizziness, lightheadedness, shakiness, etc. So I am concerned that might be an issue that day. On the other hand, sometimes when there are other things going on with my body, it tends to suppress that (for instance, it wasn’t an issue when I went in for my colonoscopy). Third, I haven’t been officially diagnosed, but my doctor has told me I probably have irritable bowel syndrome caused by “situational stress.” Basically, when I get nervous about anything, my body decides it needs to empty itself. That’s one of the reasons I don’t like to travel. I have to take more than the recommended amount of anti-diarrhea medicine even to go to a regular office visit at the doctor’s or a cleaning at the dentist’s. So far that’s been the only treatment discussed – just taking anti-diarrhea medicine when it happens or when I anticipate it might happen (like before a trip). I know that being anxious about it feeds into it and increases the problem. But it’s not just being worried about what “might” happen: it’s a legitimate concern because it has happened in situations a lot less nerve-wracking than this one. And fourth, during the procedure itself I have to stay awake at first because they have to stimulate the heart to go into SVT so they can find which nerve is misfiring. So my prayer for that is that my heart will go into SVT then so they can find and zap the right nerve and all this time and angst will not have been wasted. And then, of course, there are concerns for the procedure itself, that it will accomplish what it needs to but that there won’t be any complications.
So – if you feel led to, I would certainly appreciate your prayers for everything involved.
As I understand it, this is one of the least troublesome types of arrhythmias and least complicated surgeries for them – there are other types which can cause strokes and require a longer and more intricate surgery. So I am thankful that, if I had to have a heart rhythm problem, it’s this one and not one of the others.
I’ve been reading Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest by Edward T. Welch. It’s been in my Kindle for a while, and a few weeks ago I saw it while perusing titles there and thought it would be perfect to read in the weeks leading up to this procedure. It has indeed been very helpful. One chapter talks about the manna principle – lessons learned from the Israelites’ wilderness experience with God’s provision of manna. One part of that is that God provides what you need for the current day. The Israelites were to gather what they needed for each day and not gather ahead except for the Sabbath. Jesus said, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34). So when I start thinking about all this, I remind myself the “manna” for that will come when it’s needed, not before. I’m endeavoring to “Cast all [my] care upon him; for he careth for [me]” (I Peter 5:7).
The surgery is early next week. Jim’s mom’s caregiver will be able to stay with her all that day and evening, thankfully. I’ll try to post an update after it’s all over.
Thanks, dear friends!