I was 12 when the doctors found this heart disease. At the time I was on the island competition swim team and had held multiple ribbons and a trophy. When the doctors found this disease, they told my parents that unless there was someone who knew CPR and could only watch me, that I could no longer compete. This tore me to shreds. I loved swimming. I still do and remember the strokes and turns. So that waived bye bye to all sports and PE in school as well. Needless to say the weight packed on fast. Not only was I not exercising, but I was depressed and began eating more than usual. Over time this aggravated my condition. I began having minor symptoms.
When I was pregnant with my son, I was in labor for two months. They giving me medicine that ended up aggravating my heart condition more. I began losing part of my day, and having palpitations with minimal exercise.
When I was 19, I would be driving my husband to work with my son in the car and began passing out while driving. I would wake up on the side of the road slumped over the wheel. Thankfully, I never hit anything. This prompted trips to the heart doctor. Dr. Navratil seemed to not believe me. It drove me crazy. He spoke of a new procedure that would fix my heart problem. He said he was one of two people in the state that knew how to do the procedure. So my options were few. After discussion and learning about the procedure and the consequences of passing out at the wheel, I decided to have the surgery.
It was supposed to be a day procedure via cath. Dr. Navratil told me that he needed me awake through the procedure. I was scared, but did it anyways. In the cath lab, the assistants strapped my arms to the sides of the table. There were no arm bars. My arms were half hanging off, but not able to move. This caused great pain in my upper arms. The next part was inserting the leads. Three went in okay. The fourth was over the collar bone and he couldn’t get it in correctly. He told me my collar bone was too high and he was going to have to work it through. He shoved my chest around hard. When he was making no progress, the stupid doctor climbed on top of me and shoved my collar bone into my chest in great pain. He finally got it in. At this point I was in tears and became very quiet. The doctor, whom now seemed extremely irritated, said he was going to trigger my tacchacardia now. He said it in such a tone as to say its not gonna happen but we will do it anyways. I’m not sure what he did but my heart began racing unbelievably fast. I remember hearing the machines go crazy with alarms and then blackness. I had passed. This death experience gave just blackness. No memory of what happened. I awoke in a hospital room. He came in and told me that he had cut the wrong thing after I passed.
It was explained to me this way. The procedure was to go in via cath using a lead of some sort and singe the little muscle causing the WPW. Wolff Parkinson White syndrome was described as…imagine the top and bottom portions of the heart. The heart beats in two beats. The top part beats then the bottom immediately afterwards. The is a little muscle called a node that sends the signal from the top to the bottom telling it to beat. I was born with an extra little muscle called a Kent Bundle that sends it straight back up causing arrythmia and tacchacardia. That’s what was causing me to pass out. Well, he said the Kent Bundle was too close to the node and he cut the node instead. However I shouldn’t be worried because the bundle is acting as the node and I should be fine. He said they will keep me overnight for observation, but I should be fine.
A few days later at home, I began passing out again and this time feeling very weak and uncomfortable with some chest pain. Mark said we need to go to the emergency room. After much coaxing, we went in. They ran tons of tests. We were there a long time in tests alone. The doctor finally came in and looked at the results. He looked me dead in the face and said “you’re fine, go home.” He turned around and just as he walked out of the room my heart beat raised then dropped and I flatlined……this will be discussed in the post titled My Afterdeath Experience. This also begins the pacemaker stories….this will be discussed in Pacemaker Mishaps.
Years later, even on a pacemaker, I began having symptoms again. I found a different doctor and he found more Kent Bundles on me. He performed the same procedure. He was gentle, allowed me to sleep through it and was kind. I will never forget either of them for different reasons. Dr. Wesley, you saved my life. I no longer have WPW symptoms today, but am now completely pacer dependent.