That Time My Heart Broke. Literally. – Part 6 (The First Time They Went Into My Heart)

May 16, 2012

A doctor performing a cardiac ablation on a heart patient
It pretty much looked like this. (Photo from

It’s Wednesday night, so this series continues.

Last week, in the comments section, Kristen asked me if I could feel the tubes as they go up my body.

(Thanks for commenting. I love when y’all talk to me!)

I could definitely feel the catheters go in. The doctors 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, though.

I couldn’t feel anything in my chest, as far as being poked in there, 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.

I don’t think I’ve really said what’s potentially dangerous about WPW.

When someone has WPW, her heartbeat can go ba-dum, ba-dee, ba-doo, following the different pathways. (I think sometimes the electrical signal can go backwards?) A heartbeat can then start to loop on itself, making a heart beat so quickly that the person who possesses said heart passes out (or possibly dies).

So, they do this EP study/ablation. One thing I remember about the first one, is that I was the least awake of all three of them. I think they gave me a little extra of whatever that medicine stuff is they put in my IV.

a cartoon heart showing a catheter ablating an extra pathway from Wolff-Parkinson-White
Get it! (Or not.) (Photo credit: Medtronic, Inc.)

While the doctors were in there doing the test, they also tried to ablate (burn off) the extra pathway, but they couldn’t get it.

I don’t remember the exact numbers they use in the test, and what’s good and bad. I just remember my understanding from the doctor was that I was basically right on the line between probably being okay, and possibly being in a dangerous situation. That’s not a cool line to straddle.

My dad and I hung out in my hospital room until I was discharged. The hospital offered to let me stay for super rad dinner, but it was time to get to work.

(Usually we had Wednesdays off, but in our last week of performances, we had a Wednesday show.) The show was back from the weekend, and so was I.

My dad and I jumped in a cab straight from the hospital, and hightailed it to the theater.

I know I said I thought it was pretty ridiculous for my dad to come all the way to Boston from Ohio just to be there for a little procedure. (And I stand by that.) But, it was really nice that he got to come to the show. He doesn’t always get to see everything I work on (being that he lives far away and all).

Aurora and Ben taking a two-person selfie at rehearsal
with my friend Ben during one of our breaks in a rehearsal

I jumped back into work as though nothing had happened. Ben, my Assistant Stage Manager, was an angel. He always works harder than almost everyone I know, but he was especially wonderful welcoming me back (and triple checking everything for me).

He really made sure I knew we were a team. I was not alone at all, and I appreciate that greatly.

(He even came to visit me multiple times at the hospital (and a few times at home) during all the subsequent ridiculousness over the next few months.)

Back to the actual heart stuff (kind of the main point of this story), the doctor prescribed some beta blockers (and I think some other pills as well, but I can’t quite remember).

My understanding of beta blockers is that they can keep your heart from beating too quickly, while lowering your resting heart rate and blood pressure.

The problem is my blood pressure and heart rate are quite low. My resting heart rate is in the 40s. When I get my blood pressure read, I’m fairly often asked if I’m feeling okay. (I’ve been kept from giving blood before, because my blood pressure wasn’t high enough.)

So, here I am with these already crazy low numbers (mainly due to good genes, I’m sure), and I’m going on beta blockers.

I wonder if that might cause some sort of problem… Find out next week.

2 thoughts on “That Time My Heart Broke. Literally. – Part 6 (The First Time They Went Into My Heart)”

  1. How do you keep track of all this? If I’m reading it right, this was a few years back and I’m guessing you are okay now? It’s not bad to have a low pulse or low blood pressure, most elite athletes have it, means the heart isn’t working so hard to make the body function.

    1. Hey Chris!

      Yes, this was a few years back. And yes, I’m okay now.

      I keep track of all this mainly from just my memories. The calendar on my computer goes back to 2008, so that helps as well. I obviously don’t remember every detail (since there are places in the posts where I say I don’t quite remember this or that).

      It’s been interesting writing it now with years of perspective, ’cause now it’s pretty much just a memory. I’m sure it would probably have been a more interesting story if I had written it as it was happening.

      I know that elite athletes generally have awesome numbers. For me, I think it’s mainly luck and genetics. I’m sure working out helps, but I’m not nearly fit enough to really have given those numbers to myself.

      I know it’s generally better to have lower numbers for heart rate and blood pressure, but of course they can bring problems sometimes too. I’m betting that adding a beta blocker to the mix doesn’t often bode well for people with low numbers…

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