Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Good Thing I Like Jelly and Ice Cream

Because of my little adventure involving a helicopter over the new year, I was booked in to an appointment with a new specialist last Friday. He did a check on Zappy, and then confirmed what the nurses in the hospital had said - that he would want to upgrade Zappy for a better model.

To explain a little bit about my condition (Long QT Syndrome), I basically have an electrical fault that means that my heart doesn't beat correctly sometimes. Apparently the slower my heart rate, the longer the Q-T interval (you know how when you see a heart rate monitor on TV there's a big spike and then a little spike? Well the interval between the big and little spikes is called the Q-T interval (Q and T are the names of different components of the spikes)), the more likely it is that my heart will play up, which initially begins with atrial fibrillation (the atrium - the first bit that beats - spazzing out, which is an invconvenient but non-fatal condition), but in my case, can continue through to the ventricle and cause the ventricle to fibrillate (twitch/flutter, i.e. not pump blood properly) which can become a fatal arrhythmia if it doesn't correct itself. Yep, those 25 years I was untreated I was pretty bloody lucky not to be laid out on a slab!

Anyway, Zappy Mk1 has a single lead into the ventricle, to allow him to defibrillate my heart, should the ventricle "beat" at a rate in excess of about 210bpm. Your average person may think that a little risky, but considering the dose of beta-blockers I am on, I would be hard pressed to raise my heartrate that high through exercise, so it safe to assume that if my heart is beating that fast, that it's not beating at all - it's twitching.
Source - Yale Medical Group
The difference between this diagram and reality is that Zappy is on my right hand side, and the lead runs through my right subclavian vein, not my left. I had a clot in my left bicep at the time of implantation (due to inflammation from a canula), so they weren't keen to further obstruct blood flow on that side.

Oh, and there's another difference - my boobs are bigger. Slightly.

Zappy Mk2 will also have a lead in the atrium, so that he can pace the atrium whenever it drops below 70 or so beats per minute (which for me is all the time - my resting heartrate is rarely above about 50bpm, and my overnight heart rate has been known to drop to 28bpm, which, as anyone who knows how little I resemble an Olympic athlete would realise, is a little odd), and therefore hopefully prevent my Q-T interval from being so long, and therefore prevent the majority of the ectopic beats and therefore have a lower risk of a cardiac event. That means that, even though there will be a lead in the vetricle in case things get that bad, the chance of things getting bad enough for a zap to be delivered will be much lower.
So that's about it, really. The surgery is pencilled in for a fortnight from now. Suffice it to say I'm none to pleased at the prospect of being cut open. And, ever since I Googled Melbourne Private Hospital and saw a picture of someone on the operating table (actually, it was a picture of a bunch of surgeons and what I assume was a person under a whole lot of medical drapes...), I am totally freaked out. And I'm going to be a right proper nanna with a pacemaker now, and I hate the idea of a machine beating my heart for me. Hate it hate it hate it.

But I've been feeling really ordinary for the last couple of weeks, and feeling quite wonky for no reason, and being tired all the time, and being scared all the time, and continually reaching to feel my pulse when I don't feel quite right (because that's TOTALLY going to prevent me from ending up unconscious on the floor...), and panting when I walk a block on flat ground to the supermarket, and I hate that, too. Hate it hate it hate it.

So I guess, when I weigh that up with the surgery, and add the fact I will quite likely be fed jelly and icecream, I guess it makes it worthwhile. Jelly's good like that.


  1. Jelly has the potential to solve many of life's problems.

    Hopefully you'll start feeling much better once you're fitted with Zappy Mk2.

    1. Thanks Katie :) Also, agreed! Gazing into my crystal ball, I see the weeks following the op and they are filled with jelly-making as well as baking. I don't think there'll be many problems left in the world when I'm done!

  2. You'll be treated like a Queen in hospital, the nurses will love you :) Take in a jar of hundreds and thousands with you, to go on your ice-cream or breakfast bread, that should make the days start with a smile :)
    Thinking of you and hope you're feeling better soon,

    1. YOU'RE A GENIUS!!! THAT IS THE BEST IDEA EVER!!! You've made me ever so happy - suddenly I'm almost looking forward to being in hospital :)


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