Ultrarunner fighting Atrial Fibrilation (AF)

This blog has pretty much always been about running ultras, mostly Hardrock. It still is but now it is also about running with AF. I was forced to miss Hardrock in 2011 due to my AF but my long term goal was to get back to a level where I could enter the lottery for 2012. And hopefully help any other runners with AF who stumble upon this site. I never made it into Hardrock in 2012, or 2013, or 2014. I didn't have a qual for 2015. I ran Fatdog in Canada instead. That was tough. Now back to Hardrock.

The heart problems all started back on May 25: http://howmanysleeps.blogspot.com/2011/05/out-of-hardrock.html

Saturday, July 16, 2011

First visit to Electrophysiologist

Finally the visit I have been waiting for pretty much since I established I needed an ablation. My new cardiologist comes highly recommended in his area of expertise. That is what I want. And he was a very calm and concise man in person, inspiring the sort of confidence you want when your future is depending on him. He discussed in detail the procedure: Radiofrequency Ablation. On a printed fact sheet he drew and described the path of the catheter that gets fed in through a vein in my groin up into my heart. And an oesophageal ultrasound probe was passed down my throat and provided images helping direct the catheters. A fluoroscopic x-ray machine is also used to help guide the catheters into the appropriate chambers of my heart. And because they run a truck load of fluid into me during the procedure, they will stick a catheter into my bladder while I am out of it. Keeps getting better all the time.

Once in the right side of my heart he will poke the catheter through the thin wall between the upper chambers to get to the left side. Here he will use the electrode on the end of the catheter to burn areas around the base of the pulmonary veins that pass blood from the lungs back into the heart. This is where the extra beats originate to cause the fibrillation. The whole job can take 4-6 hours.

I will wake with a sore throat, sore groin and likely a little chest pain, oh and the catheter in my bladder of course. 6 hours flat on my back. 2 nights in hospital. 2 weeks off work. No mention of running. The first catch he mentioned was that best results are achieved after repeating the ablation again in 4-6 months. The next catch: he has a waiting period of 6-8 months! He recognised my desperation and the impact the events and drugs were having on my quality of life and put me on the urgent wait list. If a cancellation occurs I will be in. Could still be 3-4 months.

The success rate is 85%. There is a 2% risk of heart attack or stroke during the ablation. There is a tiny risk of needing to have open heart surgery if something goes wrong. And there is a 1 in 1000 chance of death. I can live with those odds. Or die by them I guess. They are pretty good odds from where I am sitting. The decision was easy and never in doubt. I am waiting for that phone call.

1 comment:

tamyka said...

I hope there is a cancellation in the near future. We want our Whippet back :D