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

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

cartoon hearts dressed as athletes, running together It’s Wednesday night , so the story continues. Last week, we left off with me spending the weekend at Tufts Medical Center.

On Monday, it was time to start getting my tests done. I spent a long time lying down in a hole of a big, circular machine (which made a bunch of noise). I think it 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. I guess the left side of my heart is slightly larger than the right. And I have some kind of thing commonly referred to as “athlete’s heart.” (This is not because I was an athlete. I was a recreational runner before all of this trouble, but definitely didn’t push hard enough to get athlete’s heart by being an athlete. Athlete’s heart just means that my heart is bigger than you would expect it to be.)

The size of my heart wasn’t my problem.

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? What? Like, in there? Are you sure? ‘Cause that seems, you know… Wait, what, now?

Stephen (professors usually go by their first name at Berklee) was really helpful through this, and all the months to follow. I actually wasn’t freaking out (except about missing out on life. I hadn’t been in the theater all weekend!). 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 in on me.

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.

Speaking of people checking in 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 it/they is/are?), it 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 that 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 just 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.

I actually hadn’t listened to Michael Jackson a lot, because I just couldn’t do it. His songs usually made me burst into tears, now that he was dead and everything. But, when they asked what I wanted to put on my iPod for a procedure that would probably take hours, I didn’t hesitate for a second. I knew I was gonna want all Michael all the time.

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 other 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.))

Anyway, so they insert these little tubes into my veins, and thread them up in 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 (The “They’re Gonna Go Into My Heart” Chapter)

    1. Aurora De Lucia

      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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