That Time My Heart Broke. Literally. – Part 36 (The “Follow-Ups” Chapter)

December 12, 2012

ER-the tv showIt’s Wednesday night , so the story continues.

Picking up from last week

I had multiple follow up appointments – my electrocardiolist, my surgeon, my primary care doctor – everyone saw me to say hello.

Three months after surgery, when I followed up with my amazing heart surgeon (Dr. Vlahakes), he told me I was now basically a superhero. If you think your sternum is strong, wait until someone cracks it open! Apparently, it gets even stronger when it fuses back together (or however that works).

I had a couple of tiny scares and trips to the ER before my follow-up appointments, and some months later. Instances where I thought maybe I could feel my heart flutter again, or thought something else was wrong.

I don’t know if any of you reading have had a serious illness to be pronounced good as new. But it’s kind of a weird feeling. Of course you want to believe it. But I think, in my case at least, my mind/body started playing a couple of tricks on me. “Am I really okay?” “Did I just feel something?” “I better go get this checked out immediately!”

It feels weird to go from a life constantly in and out of the hospital to being completely free. It almost feels like you’re supposed to be in the hospital but somehow you’ve escaped with the universe to catch you red-handed at any moment.

Another thing that spurred a couple of ER visits (as opposed to doctor visits) months after my follow-ups was that I moved around a lot. I left my safe, lovely, wonderful, amazing Boston life and mainly spent time in California. (We’ll get to the move soon.)

It was hard to find a new doctor I trusted who was accepting new patients. So, I went around doctor-less for a while. And when I’d have an urgent concern, I just went to the ER.

In total, over the year and half following my surgery, I only had a handful of ER visits. It wasn’t like I was going a ton, but I went more than zero times.

I have since grown out of that slightly paranoid, “every tiny weird feeling must be something wrong with me” phase. I haven’t seen the inside of an ER for over a year – for heart stuff, anyway. (I had a sprained ankle back in January.)

I’m happy to know that I’m not alone in the overly cautious after surgery department, though. I’ve talked to a couple other WPW patients who were scared their problem might be coming back and had some extra visits to a hospital or doctor that in the end, we didn’t really need.

I never want to waste any resources, but I suppose it’s better safe than sorry…

And I wasn’t always completely wrong. I’ve had a flutter here or there, with very slightly abnormal EKGs. I never had anything truly emergent, but I do still have to have a cardiologist. Someone is keeping an eye on all that tiny stuff, just in case.

Overall though, I’m a pretty healthy lady. I have no restrictions on what I’m allowed to do. My doctors took exceptional care of me – absolutely exceptional. I may even give one post to that so the idea doesn’t get lost this post.

JD on scrubs making fantasy faceEven though this is all in the past, it’s weird. Sometimes some random thing happens that catapults me back, and I’ll feel like it was yesterday.

Most of the time, this heart stuff is just a memory from a long, long time ago. It doesn’t really affect my day to day life.

But sometimes, my sternum will crack in a weird way (which it never did before surgery), or I’ll see some medical show on TV where a doctor or patient says or does something that puts me right back in the hospital for ten seconds in my mind.

It doesn’t happen so much anymore. It used to happen kind of a lot, but the whole vivid memories have settled down over time.

I can’t believe it! We did it – we told the heart story! (Yay!)

There will still be more chapters that deal with quitting school, the money issue, and getting back into running. But I think we’ve covered the health stuff! I hope you found this story at least somewhat interesting. Thanks so much for reading along. I hope you enjoy the next chapters of how that year went on to affect to following year… We’ll continue next week.

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