Monday, September 24, 2007

Finally - some peace of mind...

Oy. What a ride this has been with my heart wigging-out on me since September 4th...

Today I met with Dr. Hodgkin, the other electrophysiologist. This is the guy who is married to my girlfriend, whose kids went to Early Childhood classes with mine when they were one year old, and now his daughter is in Bobby's class at school and his son is in Ally's. So although I don't know HIM, I do go pretty far back with the rest of the Hodgkins!

The first thing he said when he walked into the room was that we should just call him Doug. He had reviewed my reports and listened to my heart, listened to my symptoms, ran a fresh EKG, heard about my lifestyle and history, etc. and almost immediately started putting my mind at ease. He used words that I actually know (some even fewer than 6 syllables!), and when he used words I didn't know, he exlained them like a friendly professor would. Everything made better sense to me. He explained why the symptoms were so much worse at night than during the day (because there is some stretch in the heart and vessels when reclined and that can exaggerate the arrythmic beats).

He took me off the new medication and ordered something different and gave me some options for how to make this all go away (which he feels confident it will). I will be going with the "ablation" option, hopefully on October 8th. He's done this procedure thousands of times (I asked;-)), so I feel confident having him do it. About 70 -90% of "otherwise healthy" people (like me) come through this, recover for about 3 or 4 days, and then feel "cured". Ablation is where he'll go in through a vessel via an IV (so no stitches even), thread it up to my heart, and look for what is causing the erratic beating. Then he can cauterize the villains, reestablish the real beat leader, and retreat.

Sounds like a plan.

He also explained why he thought I should go ahead and do Twin Cities Marathon on Oct 6th, and also Ironman Florida on November 4th: that while these rumblings, grindings, fast-slow-fast beats, poundings, pressure, etc... this all sounds and IS very unnerving... but since my echo and MRI show that my structures are indeed healthy... these unnerving symptoms are nevertheless still benign. Meaning I will not drop dead like Will did (my classmate who got a virus in his heart and promptly died about 5 months ago).

So. Here's the skinny: I'm an Ironman. I tough things out. I can tough out freakish heartbeats.

I told him that I haven't been training, and he assured me I can get back to that right away. I just have to know that I may feel the sensations of my heart making these weird thumps and noises and that it shouldn't freak me out. Also, as an endurance athlete, I will have to use other methods of assessing my "current condition", since my heartrate monitor won't offer much as a tool. When I said, "but I'm so exhausted! now", he said that was most likely caused my the medications I was taking. That's their job - to slow everything down to try to get the rhythm to come back.

Ah, ha!

This would explain why at IM Wisconsin, I was running up and down the streets taking pictures, full of my usual energy, piss and vinegar, yet after I got home I started getting so tired... well, that's when I started the medications (and stopped drinking caffeine and alcohol), so that part of what he explained to me today, also made sense.

So that is the scoop. I start the new medication today, and will get back on my bike and not worry that I'm going to pass out and fall off of it. I still think that I will do a dreadmill run today, rather than an outdoor run, just so that I can familiarize myself with my erratic heartbeats while running, and not freak myself out.

Thank you all so much for all your prayers, and good thoughts. Although my BODY feels the same, my MIND feels better.



the Dread Pirate Rackham said...

Oh yay! I'm so glad you found a doc who has actual bedside manner skillz. And he sounds confident - that is just Money!

Get back on it - you're doing great!

Shelley said...

Can ya feel that??I'm jumping up and down..yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!

greyhound said...

That is actually a doctor . . . maybe the first one you've seen. You treat patients, not conditions or diseases.

Now, Ironman. Don't injure the rest of your body coming back too fast. I'll still be praying for you and the procedure.

21stCenturyMom said...

YES!!!! This is SUCH great news!

And I already told you my biking goddess/coach was on her bike 1 week after ablation. And doing 20 when I wasn't holding her back.

I am SO HAPPY for you!

Tri Mom said...

yes, yes, yes!! So happy for you! I am jumping with Shelley!!!


Tri-Dummy said...


I'm so relieved!!!

Keep me posted.

KC said...

I am soooo glad. I have been checking for updates, and I even prayed for you in church on Sunday. (That's a biggie for me! ;) This sounds like a great plan.

Tri-Geek Kahuna said...

everyone loves a happy ending. especially all of your fans.

Bill said...

Now that you've explained the cause and not just the symptoms, I understand.

A young co-worker of mine, one of the most fit people that I know, was diagnosed with the same thing. He was in surgery one day and flying home the next (not done locally). A week later, he tested for a Special Ops job and blew away the evaluators on the physical fitness test.

You'll do just fine.

Lisa - Slow & Steady said...

Very good news! Thanks for the update. *hugs* :)

RunBubbaRun said...

That sounds great...That Iron Blood in you will flow through stronger than ever in no time.

Start out slowly thou..Thanks for the updates.

Jumper 2.0 said...

I am so glad that you "feel" better. I can't wait for you to feel totally better.

Keep us posted!

Isn't it sad, that we are so happy to hear about such a good doctor with such good personal skills? I just had a doctor ask "why" when I told him that family would like to have an update from him. "Oh, I don't know, maybe it has something to do with the fact that they just drove in from North Dakota (>5hrs) fearing for their dad's life and wondering whats going on?" ??????

Brent Buckner said...


TJ said...

Awesome! The news couldn't be better. Looking forward to seeing you in Florida on November THIRD.

jbmmommy said...

Wonderful news! I hope things go as smoothly as predicted. You sure are Iron, good luck with the upcoming events as well. Continued thoughts and prayers coming your way. Take care.

IM Able said...


Such a wonderful relief and I am so very, very happy for you!

Such great, great news. YEAH!