That Time My Heart Broke. Literally. – Part 5 (They’re Gonna Go Into My Heart)

May 9, 2012

cartoon hearts dressed as athletes, running together
(Photo credit:

It’s Wednesday night , so this series continues.

Last week, we left off at the end of my weekend at Tufts Medical Center.

On Monday, I spent a long time lying in a hole of a big, circular machine (which made a bunch of noise). I think that was a cardiac MRI.

I don’t remember all the tests they did. I do remember that they learned basically every single thing there was to know about my heart.

The left side of my heart is slightly larger than the right. And I have the thing commonly referred to as “athlete’s heart.” (It’s not because I was an athlete. I was a recreational runner before all this trouble, but I definitely didn’t push hard enough to get athlete’s heart by being an athlete. Athlete’s heart just means my heart is bigger than you’d normally expect.)

The size of my heart wasn’t my problem, though.

Stephen (my professor who had to deal with my total freak out over losing studio time) called me on Monday to see how things were going. He called right after doctors had informed me that they’d probably have to go into my heart.

Into my heart? Like, in there? Are you sure? ‘Cause that seems… what, now?

Stephen was really helpful through that (and all the months to follow). I didn’t know any details of what the doctors were planning to do inside my heart, and nothing was certain yet. So, I was cool. But even with being cool, he was reassuring. It was very nice that he checked on me.

toy car on a map (facing away from us)
Daddy, please get back in the car and turn around. I love you so much, but don’t be ridiculous. You know, I am a grown up. (Photo credit:


Speaking of people checking on me, my dad drove up to Boston. I kid you not. I was all, “Daddy. Don’t be crazy. I’m fine. In real life.”

“People are probably going to go into my baby girl’s heart?! I’m coming sweetheart, I’m coming!”

[*Shaking my head*] “Oh, goodness, gracious.”

They did go into my heart on Tuesday. Turns out, I had Wolff-Parkinson-White.

I have heard a fair amount about it, so hopefully I don’t get this next stuff wrong. Wolff-Parkinson-White is a congenital heart defect in which there is an extra electrical pathway on the heart that’s not supposed to be there.

You know how our hearts beat – ba dum, ba dum, ba dum. We have a bundle of muscle fibers on our heart that controls how quickly it beats and takes the electrical impulses along the path they’re supposed to go. (SA node to the AV node, y’all? Maybe?)

Someone with Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) has extra pathways (bundles of fibers) that aren’t supposed to be there. Depending on where the bundle(s) is located (and how big they are), WPW can be anywhere from mildly dangerous to very dangerous.

How can they tell if you have the dangerous kind or not? They can tell by doing an EP study (Electrophysiology study). (That’s the thing they needed to do in my heart.)

Okay, so on Monday, they tell me I have WPW and the next day they’re going into my heart. I know the way it was phrased makes it kind of sound like it might be a big deal. But it wasn’t.

They took me to this room. I’m pretty sure it was cold. I got to listen to Michael Jackson in my headphones. That was nice.

So, they take me to this cold room and give me a little something to make me sort of groggy, but I was kind of awake. They then inserted catheters into veins at the top of my legs.

(Yes, WebMD and internet users, right by my groin (ew)). That’s the word all the medical websites use, but I didn’t want you to have to think about that… Oh well!)

Anyway, so they insert these little tubes into my veins, and thread them up into my body until they reach my heart.

And this is where we’ll pick up next week.

2 thoughts on “That Time My Heart Broke. Literally. – Part 5 (They’re Gonna Go Into My Heart)”

    1. I could definitely feel the catheters go in. They said they numbed the area, but I could totally feel the pokes down there into my skin. I couldn’t feel the tubes as they traveled up.

      I couldn’t actually feel anything in my chest (as far as being poked in there or anything), but sometimes when they shocked me (or whatever that is that they do), I could kind of feel a fluttery, shock-y feeling in my chest.

      In total, I had three ablations between two different hospitals. I don’t remember each one separately; they all sort of run together. But, I do remember that in one of them, my chest was literally uncontrollably shaking, which was a very weird feeling – to just be lying on this table with this pulsating-y chest that I could see and feel, but couldn’t do anything about. Usually I have a good amount of control over my body, and what moves and what doesn’t. So, it felt quite odd.

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