I think I may have reached rock bottom. Or at least I can remember that exact moment when I did…
Just last week everything was different. I had just finished my 10 mile long run with relative ease. I had finalized my Fall race schedule and was looking forward to another exciting “Runtober” where I have traditionally run 4 half marathons during the 4 Sundays of October. I was beginning to turn my attention to the best time of the year, especially if you’re a runner.
Until the morning of August 28th. That’s when things changed.
While doing my early morning 2 mile run, I noticed that I was a little more winded than usual. Lately I had been experimenting with a different breathing technique and I noticed that it just wasn’t working. Nonetheless, I motored on and labored through that first mile. When I hit the one mile mark, the Runkeeper app voice in my headphones started spitting out the current data.
“Distance – One Mile”
“Heart Rate – 208 beats per minute”
208 beats per minute? I almost fell to the ground when I heard this. It’s supposed to be 130, not 208! It was clear that I was back in AFib…
I immediately stopped running and just started walking. I turned off the music on my iPhone. It was about a mile back to my house, in the morning darkness, and I just didn’t feel like running anymore. I just wanted to walk.
It took probably about 15 minutes to walk back to my house. Those 15 minutes, walking in the dark, is what I will always remember, for me, as hitting rock bottom.
Four cardioversions, neverending meds, dozens of visits to my cardiologists, and not to mention the on-going medical bills, and I’m right back at square one. When I arrived at work later that morning, all I wanted to do is stare at my wall for 20 minutes.
I didn’t waste time. I went to see the cardiologist on Monday. After undergoing what had to be my 50th EKG in the last 2 years (I’m getting used to them peeling off those stickers!), the doctor validated my self diagnosis. I was indeed back in Atrial Fibrillation.
“This time I want to do an ablation” I barked out. “Let’s schedule it.”
The poor cardiologist didn’t stand a chance. I was determined, having been in and out of his department so many times I felt I already knew everything. In fact, I even took a meeting with an electrophysiologist (EP) a couple of weeks ago so I could get a “head start” on this procedure should I ever relapse back into AFib.
After some back ‘n forth, the good doctor did in fact try to call and schedule an ablation with an EP at a hospital in Manchester, NH (my current cardiologist doesn’t do ablations). I even hovered over his shoulder as he called him, trying to eavesdrop.
“We’ll get back to you” he tells me after hanging up with the EP. These are not words you want to hear when you’re anxious to get this done ASAP. “If you don’t hear back from the EP’s office by end of the week, feel free to give them a call directly” he added. Definitely not reassuring words you want to hear when you want it to be all about you.
A day went by, and no phone call. At this point I’m looking at the September calendar and configuring various scenarios. Let’s see… if I can have the procedure done in a couple of weeks, followed by 2 more weeks of rest, then I’ll be back to normal by mid-October, right? Or maybe if I’m ablated in late September, I’ll be ready for a race in late October? These were the thoughts I was fixating on all day.
And then, on Tuesday, I got the call. It went to my voicemail. The EP’s assistant at the hospital telling me they are “all booked through September” and that they would call me later in the month when the October schedule was ready.
Ugh. This surely isn’t getting better.
So that’s where I am right now. In waiting. And waiting really is the worst part.
The true cause of Atrial Fibrillation is not known. There’s a number of factors that can play into why a person (like me) may have AFib, but there’s really no smoking gun. All I can do from this point forward is try to remain upbeat and optimistic. Eventually, I WILL be ablated, and I WILL be cured from this very annoying condition.
When I was first diagnosed back in November 2013, I knew nothing about atrial fibrillation. In these two years I feel like I’ve earned my PhD in all things AFib.
I will try to make the best use of these next couple of months. I will still run occasionally, but very gently and slowly. Might even do a 5K. Who knows, maybe I’ll even work on some fundamental aspects of my running that doesn’t involve actual running (did I really just say that?).
Okay, enough for now. This is without a doubt my longest post ever. I’ll continue to provide updates on my situation over the next few weeks.
For those reading this, do yourself a favor. Go see a doctor immediately and have them check your heart. Coincidentally, and ironically, September is Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month. If you haven’t gotten your annual wellness exam, do it ASAP. That’s how I found out about AFib, and trust me, if you have it you’ll want to know.
When you’re at rock bottom, it’s so easy to give in. In my case, it would be easy to give up running and move onto something else.
Yes… that would be easy… but it ain’t happening.