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.