I used to have something called SVT, or Supraventricular Tachycardia. An SVT episode for me was when my heart would race-often close to 200 beats per minute. I had episodes maybe twice a year" and they usually happened when I had a nice steaming cup of caffeinated coffee in my hand.
I remember having these episodes when I was little - often in dance class. Even then, it was so annoying. When your heart is going that fast, your energy dwindles to that of a slug. You're winded just taking a few steps. (I'm actually fairly certain a slug would have passed me in a race . . .).
It took awhile to figure out what these episodes were all about. My heart rate would always return to its normal rhythm before my parents could get me to the hospital or doctor. However, once we did learn that it was SVT, we knew that it was just a nuisance and not life-threatening. Everyone hoped I would grow out of it.
So, flash forward. I'm 30 and tired of not being able to have caffeine and tired of worrying about having an episode somewhere inconvenient, like on a plane or traveling to a far away land (not that I've ever traveled to a far away land. But still.). Even with these annoyances, the idea of having to travel to another hospital in the state made this procedure seem like a really big deal. And because of my age and because this was an elective procedure (meaning, I didn't HAVE to do this), I didn't want this to feel like a big deal. Does that make sense?
When Dr. Robert VerNooy, an electrophysiologist (a cardiologist who deals with the electrical systems of the heart) joined the RMH team, I set up an appointment. We met in October 2010 and the appointment was great. He talked with me for a good 30 minutes, discussing the ablation procedure (the "cure" for SVT), how it works, what I would need to do, etc. I walked out of his office thinking I'd be crazy to NOT have this procedure. He made me feel very relaxed, very at-ease, and very confident.
I bought some caffeinated Coke and put it in the fridge. I was excited!
So a few short weeks later on November 15, I had a cardiac ablation. Similar to a cardiac catheterization, Dr. VerNooy used a catheter (a long, thin, flexible wire with monitoring electrodes on the tip) and placed it inside a blood vessel in my leg. The catheter then traveled up to my heart where Dr. VerNooy was able to trigger a rapid heart beat and see exactly what area needed to be ablated, or destroyed, so 'd no longer have episodes of an irregular heart rhythm.
This outpatient procedure went very smoothly. It's a conscious sedation, so I remember bits and pieces of the procedure -” primarily how incredibly kind everyone was. I was treated like a sister, daughter and a friend of every person I came into contact with, including Dr. VerNooy. It was a GREAT experience.
So now, I'm good as gold-and can drink an unlimited supply of caffeine. In fact, as I write this post, I'm sipping some wonderful coffee from my snowman mug. (I may need a new mug, since it's April. Hm).
If you have a SVT or other type of heart rhythm disorder, I encourage you to go meet with Dr. VerNooy. Talk with your PCP and get a referral. I can assure you that it's the best decision I've ever made. And I have the coffee to prove it!
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