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Heart Disorders board

I have heard many complaints about electrophysiology studies and radio frequency ablations and I am writing this today to assure everyone that they are safe, if you go to a trained medical professional. I recently had one conducted on December 8, 2003 - and let me tell you - It has changed my life. I am able to enjoy life again without hesistation. I am able to eat food with caffeine, which I hadn't been able to do in two years and I am able to run again and endure physical activity that used to cause problems.. Let me tell you my story...
I began having difficulty with my heart around age 15 or 16, I am now 17. At first, my parents thought "he needs a little exercise." Well, excercising didn't help, it actually made things worst. So finally, we went to see a cardiologist located in a nearby town. At first, we thought the guy was on to something. He seemed to know what to test for and thought of a few answers. He insisted that I quit caffeine and exercise more. This would eliminate the problem for sure. He did all of the routine tests including holter monitor and other things. He said he wasn't able to detect anything. Well, after a few months of this, we went back to the doctor who referred me to the cardiologist and he decided that maybe I was depressed. Yeah ummm no! I am a very active kid in both school and my social life and exhibit no signs of depression or anxiety. Of course, at this point, I was exhibiting signs of anxiety because it was very un-nerving for my heart to just take off and get up to 200 beats per minute or so. Well, he put my on paxil. They say the stuff isn't addictive - BUT HA! THat stuff is as bad as prozac. Well, this continued for a while. THe first few days of being on paxil were wonderful. It was messing with my levels of seretonin. Then, it wasn't great anymore and things were back to the way they used to be, except now I had become a regular pill popper. So I guess we continued on paxil for almost a year and I continued to have major attacks and things weren't going so well. The referring doctor decided to send me to another cardiologist - this one I give much credit to. He studied me for a while and wasn't able to really detect me having an episode, but he was able to detect PVC's in a general holter monitor test. He decided to put me on toprol 25mg. Well, this made things a lot worst. I would be up at night, maybe having 50 to 60 pvcs and it was a complete mess, so the doctor took me off of it. He then decided the best thing to do would be to give me a 30 day event monitor that I could carry with me and use to call in any problems I had. I did this for a while... about 21 days and nothing had happened. Yeah, I had pvcs and such and I called them in and they were just okay and so we waited and life continued for a little longer. School had let up and it was summer - the first day of summer actually - and the big event happened. We were 22 days into the event monitoring and I went to the hospital at 6am in the morning to see my bestfriend who was having surgery. Well, with the blessings of God and my fears of hospitals, my heart took off. It got up to 209 bpm and I used my monitor and called the company and the phoned my doctor who insisted that I go to the emergency room now. So I went down to the emergency room and they were able to put me on monitors and do and ekg to find out what the situation was. This was very important because this was the first attack they were ever able to record. They finally decided to give me 3 doses of valium and injected it directly into my IV. It really calmed the situation down. My heart rate had slowed to 188 before the injected the valium and after about 3 minutes, my heart flatlined, as we found out it does everytime it would reset from tachycardia, and then it picked up a normal beat at 88bpm. The cardiologist was able to determine that I had super ventricular tachycardia and decided that we should try out a few drugs. We started on verapamil 120mg, it was no help. So the next month, we increased to 240mg of verapamil and it was much more help.... but not enough... so finally, we went to 360mg of verapamil the following month and it wasn't enough because I would still have pvcs and palpatations and tachycardia. My doctor, bless his heart, at this time decided that I was a prime candidate for an operation called "Cardiac Ablation". At first, I was very scared because it sounded risky - but turned out to be wonderful. On october 1st, 2003, I was sent to Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, Texas for a cardiac consultation with the chief of the cardiology clinic for the West Tower - Dr. Richard Friedman. Dr. Friedman spent about 2 hours talking with me and my family and decided that a cardiac ablation was what I needed. Later that afternoon, he sent me in for an echocardiogram and I was all set. We set the surgery date for December 8, 2003 and I wouldn't return to Texas Children's until then.

My family spent the night before in a local hotel and then were shuttled over to Texas Medical Center which houses some of the finest hospitals including Texas Childrens, MD Anderson, St. Lukes, etc. Upon arriving at the hospital, my family was given a private waiting room that was inside a larger waiting room. Each family who has a child in surgery recieves their own private waiting room which includes a couch and other comfortable furniture. My parents and I were taken back to pre-op, while the rest of the family was sent to their waiting room. The family was given a beeper and would be updated hourly on my condition during the operation. When I went into the pre-op room, we began normal pre-op things such as getting into the gown and what not. Soon the doctors would come in to visit. At Texas Childrens, they are only 1 of 4 hospitals in the country that use Pediatric Cardiology Anestisiologists(SP), which means these are highly trained people who specialize in the anestesia for cardiac patients. We continued prep and I was able to choose the flavor of anestesia that I wanted. The hospital offered 31 different flavors for me to choose from. I think I chose strawberry cheesecake. After explaining all the risks and such to me and my parents, they put something into my IV and I was out of it until I woke up in recovery. I woke up in the special cardiac recovery unit on the 18th floor which houses the cardiac operating rooms and transplant rooms. When I woke up in recovery, I wasn't really in any pain or anything and felt fine. I was bit out of it though. It was only noon and the hospital had done 6 cardiac ablations and a heart transplant. That is amazing. Well, normally, people would be able to leave the hospital within a matter of hours after having a cardiac ablation, but I was required to stay, because of a few reasons and I am about to tell you about those.

When they went into my heart with the two catheters through my groin, they entered the veins or the "blue" side of the heart and conducted the electrophysiology study. Now, unfortunately, the nerve that they were looking for was not located in the blue side of the heart. It was located in the red side. To find where the nerve was, they conducted the electrophysiology study and paced my heart to a rate of 165 bpm. They can either pace the heart to a certain speed or they can induce tachycardia... all while I was asleep and unaware of anything. In order to get to the red side, they have two options. They can pull all catheters out of the body and go up through the arteries which is a bit more painful and dangerous or they can cut a small hole in the heart wall and go through to the other side of the heart. With me, they cut a hole in the heart wall and went to the other side to ablate the bad nerves. When they do this, many things occur. For instance, blooding clot may occur and so to reduce that, they gave me very powerful blood thinners. If a blood clot were to occur, it could cause a stroke or heart attack. Now, I was kept overnight for observation because of the risk of stroke or heart attack. All in all, I was in the surgery for about 5 hours. The nurses said that as soon as they ablated the area, they were able to see immediate changes in the heart rhythm and it was performing as a normal heart for the first time in my life. How exciting! I left recovery after about 4 hours and was moved to the 15th floor which is the sister floor to the 18th floor of surgery. Here I was placed in a VERY comfortable room and spent the evening watching tv and talking on the phone. For pain in the legs, they gave me 650mg of tylenol and a morphine injection every 2 hours. During the night, I did have a few pvcs, however, the holter monitor they had put on me for 24 hour testing showed that everything was normal and that these pvcs were due to inflamation of the heart and the area that was ablated. It has been two weeks and a few days and I am feeling wonderful. I am able to consume caffeine and run a mile everyday. It took a week of resting and such for the cath sites to heal and then I was able to get back out there and have fun. The cardiac ablation that I had at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston has changed my life. I feel like a new person and I am so thankful of that. I take small baby aspirins for 4 more weeks and then I am done with taking a daily pill. I no longer take verapmil or any other heart related drugs. I cannot tell you what a great experience it was at Texas Childrens and how much better my life is now because those things cannot be put into words. If you are ever considering having a cardiac ablation, make sure you see a doctor who is competent and can handle the procedure. My surgeon - Dr. Fennrich, had performe 700 or so of the cardiac caths and ablations

I hope that this helps anyone and I look foreward to hearing from you!