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A New Emotion

Cardio-version is a process by which your heart is delivered a jolt of electricity to reboot it back into a normal sinus rhythm.  I have had this procedure done on several occasions, so when my doctor informed me last week that we would do it one more time, I knew exactly what to expect.  I would gargle with a nasty solution to numb my throat.  I would then have a cocktail of anesthesia injected into my Hickman port and take a little nap.  After a few well controlled minutes, I would wake up with a burning sensation on my chest and my heart in normal sinus rhythm.  Easy-peasy mac-n-cheesy!

That is exactly what happened.  The only difference in this instance is that I didn’t need to go to the mountain, the mountain came to me.  Since I am a patient in the Cardiac Critical Care Unit, a team came right to my room to perform this procedure.  You know you have heart problems when you get to know the Anesthesiologist that handles cardio-versions.  When she wheeled her computer into the room she exclaimed “I know Mr. Miller!”  We had some nice small talk about her family’s new puppy.  See, the last time I was in, she had just picked up their barrel of joy and was talking about her concerns around all of the training that she was going to have to endure.  They had a dog for a very long time and he had recently died and they went round and round about whether or not to get another one.  She finally gave in and picked up the puppy prior to my last cardio-version.

Everything went according to plan.  I gargled the nasty solution to numb my throat, the anesthesia went into my Hickman port and to sleep I went.  When I woke up I was in normal sinus rhythm, my chest was burning, everyone was gone and my nurse was cleaning up my room and getting me all situated.  I had to wait about two hours for my throat to be totally un-numb and then I enjoyed a late dinner.  See, easy-peasy mac-n-cheesy!

Why did I tell you this run-of-the-mill story about a procedure that happened to me last week?  Last night, while Michelle and I were celebrating our 28th wedding anniversary, my heart went back into its A-fib/A-flutter craziness once again.  The aforementioned cardio-version lasted about eight days.  A resting heart rate around 100 and the feeling of a washing machine with an unbalanced load sitting in the middle of my chest was back again.  This is nothing new, eight days in normal sinus rhythm after a cardio-version was a little less than what I was averaging when I was out in the real world.  The good news is that I was sitting in a Cardiac Critical Care Unit on a monitor, so anyone who was interested could sit and watch every blip of my heart.  Disappointment wasn’t my emotion, as I felt my body quietly rock back and forth, while Michelle and I watched last Friday’s season finale of The Blacklist.

We know about disappointment after several years of procedures that we hoped would reign in my heart.  Disappointment after weeks of normal sinus rhythm and feeling like we were turning the corner and healing would be ours.  That kind of disappointment wasn’t what I was feeling on this night.  I can honestly say that it might be possible that I didn’t feel anything, except annoyed because the nurse kept coming in to check on me while we were trying to watch our program.  We finally fell asleep and when we awoke A-fib/A-flutter was still hanging out.  I was feeling good, just a little fatigued because my resting heart rate was a normal person’s target heart rate during a work out.  The doctors came in to check me out and to pour over my numbers.

Then one of my doctors returned and gave me the news that inspired a brand new emotion.  It is about this new emotion that I now write this blog.  The doctor informed me that the decision had been made to do nothing about my sinus rhythm.  Since I am presently waiting for a heart transplant they figured why bother.  It was considered an unnecessary procedure.  That was a brand new one for me on this journey and it inspired a brand new emotion.  The emotion was awe.  Not awe, like what a cute puppy, but awe like I can’t believe that this is actually happening.  Yes, I would have told you before last night that I was in the hospital awaiting a heart transplant.  Yet, it wasn’t until that doctor stood in my room today and told me that no procedure would be tried, that I experience awe concerning this whole thing.

I am going to have a heart transplant.  It is official.  I am not passing go and collecting $200.  I am right here, right now watching my life wake up from history.  And I am in awe of this whole thing!