That Time My Heart Broke. Literally. – Part 16 (Beginning of My Time at Massachusetts General)

July 25, 2012

Exterior of a big glass building at Mass General Hosptial
One exterior view of Mass Gen (Photo credit:

It’s Wednesday, so this series continues.

Last week, I left off being admitted to Mass Gen.

Mass Gen has a different vibe than Tufts. I think Tufts is a smaller hospital – it definitely felt smaller.

At Tufts, we were all BFFs, dancing to Michael Jackson, and laughing, and joking. Tufts was like a fancy vacation – room service, entertainment, and all that jazz.

Mass Gen was like a hospital – an amazing hospital, for sure, but still a hospital. I’m not trying to insinuate that people were any less nice or pleasant at Mass General than they were at Tufts. It’s just that playtime was over.

Also, there were actual pre-planned meal times. Room service was no more.

But as far as my heart goes – which is I suppose the most important part, right? – I couldn’t have asked for better care.

The doctors were thorough, brilliant, and focused on getting me cured – all that good stuff.

Even though I ended up at Mass Gen basically through idiocy, it was probably the best thing that could’ve happened. Had I been more responsible, I imagine months of trying to get an appointment for a second opinion, plus follow-up appointments, and communicating between two hospitals… Aye, aye, aye.

But, boom. Off a didn’t-seem-too-smart-at-the-time decision, in one morning I became a patient at Mass Gen. The doctors fiercely look out for you there, as if you’re their own child.

They decided to do their own ablation/EP study to test my accessory pathway to see how fast it can conduct um, the electricity through my heart? Is electricity the right word? Anyway, conduction, accessory pathway, EP study.

At Tufts, I got a lot more of that medicine that kind of takes you out of the situation. At Mass Gen, I was somewhat alert. I was still in and out, but this ablation was far clearer.

I vaguely remember talking to people in the room about avocados. (They brought ’em up, not me, in case you’re wondering.) And I remember my chest literally thumping up and down uncontrollably at some point. It was so weird. I could see and feel it happening, but I couldn’t do anything to stop it or change it.

The doctors didn’t let that thumping go on all that long. I heard them talking to each other, and they put a pretty quick stop it.

As far as the test part – at Tufts, you may remember, my number was right around the line between dangerous and not. At Mass Gen, my number was over the line, into the danger zone.

They explained this difference at Mass Gen by saying tests can have slightly different outcomes based on the day, the person performing it, and all that biznatch.

Also, the amount of that take-you-out medicine stuff matters – the more you have, the lower the threshold for how fast your heart will beat when stressed by the doctors.

(I think I’m getting the gist of the explanation. I hope there aren’t a bunch of doctors out there reading my blog, exclaiming “She has no idea what she’s talking about!” Obviously, I’m just a patient, and I’m writing this close to three years after the fact. This story is, of course, colored by my memory and experiences. I’m trying to get it as correct as possible (and I think/hope I’m doing a pretty fine job…))

I’m pretty sure I had the test the day after I got admitted, so I knew it was coming. But I still didn’t give a warning to my dad. We’ll get into that next week.

I'd love to hear from you! So whaddya say?