I Don’t Got Rhythm

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Probably most of us have heard the song with the lyrics – I got rhythm who could ask for anything more ! Boy if that isn’t the truth. The song is of course about musical rhythm, unfortunately something most of us take for granted the rhythm of our heartbeat or in medical terminology sinus node rhythm I don’t have right now.

Sometime in the next week or so I will be going into one of our fine hospitals in the Columbus area for my third visit to the electro-physiology Lab, the EP lab for short. I am hoping the third time is the charm as the saying goes.

These people do a great job making me feel at ease before and after the procedure. During the procedure the doctor administers medication which totally knocks me out and cardio-version is done sending electrical current to my heart through electrodes placed on my chest.

During my last visit I developed quite a rapport with the technician who gave me my tape to share on the family blog which shows the syncing of my irregular heartbeat on the left (the black arrows), the shock and then a return to regular heartbeat intervals on the right. He said they do around twenty of these procedures each day with very little risk to the patient.

Isn’t medical technology wonderful – so take heart (no pun intended) – if you develop atrial fibrillation this procedure is nothing to worry about !

My Miracle – My Heart

Back in May 1987 at the age of thirty one I went in for my five year company physical expecting nothing out of the ordinary to come from it, but a few minutes later I was told to drive myself to the nearest emergency room because of a very irregular heartbeat.

After numerous tests I was diagnosed with a condition called cardiomyopathy, a disease that affects the left ventricle which is the main pumping chamber of the heart. Approximately 50,000 older adults have this condition which can cause extreme fatigue, be severely disabling requiring a heart transplant and can even cause sudden death.

You see for a person with a heart condition the key indicator of your heart’s health is your ejection fraction or “EF”. Normal “EF” is 50% to 75%, below normal is 36% to 49% and low is 35% and below. My echocardiogram at the time revealed a 25% “EF” which was very low so I was assigned to a cardiologist who put me on a mixture of drugs designed to strengthen my weak heart and help prevent arrhythmias. I also made a conscious effort to eat better and exercise as much as possible doing everything in moderation.

Last week my family physician recommended that I have another echocardiogram done to determine my heart’s current health. Yesterday I received a letter in the mail from him stating the following:

Jim, I am delighted to report that your echocardiogram showed no heart problems at all, this is fabulous news. Your left ventricle “EF” was at 55%, perfectly normal. All valves were normal in function and each of the four chambers of your heart were normal in size. You have had a total and complete recovery from your worrisome heart condition diagnosed twenty five years ago and therefore I don’t see a need for you to continue taking your heart medications.

After reading the letter I put in down and then picked it up again and reread it. Still skeptical of what the letter said I let a friend at work read it. I just could not believe it and still can’t believe it today ! I can’t tell you the amount of relief that I felt and the amount of gratitude I felt for my cardiologist.

So this morning I made a copy of the letter and sent it off to my cardiologist with my heart felt thanks (no pun intended) along with an offer to buy him lunch at a place of his choosing. I told him that I thought maybe he could share my story with other young people diagnosed with this condition giving them hope that things can get better.

Yep this is my own little miracle and I will always treasure it.