Well this is it. Today officially marks the end of my three-month blanking period after my catheter ablation! I can’t believe it’s been three months already. I also can’t believe it’s been over four months since I last experienced afib. My last episode of atrial fibrillation was back on February 3rd. Time sure does go by fast!
In this final post-ablation recovery update, I’ve got good news and bad news to report. The good news is I haven’t had any atrial fibrillation episodes of any kind and my weight continues to be steady at 169 pounds. I also continue to do my brisk walks for 30 minutes, 3-5 times per week without any issues at all.
The bad news is I’ve had a few days this past week where I felt something “weird” going on. I don’t know what it is exactly but I’ve had a few days where I had nagging (and sometimes intense) headaches and I generally felt like crud. When I would stand in place for a period of time I would feel lightheaded and weak. When I would sit down I would feel much better but I would still feel like crud. It felt like my heart was beating really hard and slow.
I took random readings with my AliveCor heart monitor during these episodes and they always came up normal. I even sent a couple EKG readings from the AliveCor app to be analyzed by a technician. You can do this directly through the app and it only costs $5 per reading. There is a $2 option as well but you have to wait 24 hours for your analysis. The $5 reading is usually turned around within 15-20 minutes.
One analysis came back perfectly normal and another one came back “normal with a PVC.” I’ve only had to deal with PVC’s once before a few years back and these recent episodes felt very similar so maybe that’s what these episodes were – PVC’s. The thing is, these recent episodes were far more uncomfortable and lasted much longer than I remember the last time I dealt with PVC’s.
One day in particular I had “an episode” that started around noon and didn’t go away until I went to bed around midnight. All day long I had a pounding headache and felt lightheaded and weak. I took a few AliveCor readings and it came back normal every time, although it’s possible I was having PVC’s. I don’t know how to read EKG’s and I didn’t have any of them analyzed.
If these weren’t PVC’s, it could be a blood pressure issue. I have low blood pressure to begin with and I wonder if my blood pressure dips so low at times that I’m experiencing symptoms similar to PVC’s. I have a blood pressure monitor tucked away in a closet somewhere so I might have to dust it off and take readings if I experience these episodes again.
It could also be some of the supplements I’m taking. I keep telling myself I’m going to stop taking all supplements for a few days but I’m such a creature of habit and I can never bring myself to do it because I’m so fearful of having an afib episode if I don’t take them. I know that’s just stupid thinking because I know stopping supplements for a few days isn’t likely to affect anything.
Speaking of supplements, I mentioned in my update last week that my muscle twitching wasn’t as bad as I was tweaking my supplements – mainly adding more calcium to my diet to balance the magnesium I’m taking. I continue to tweak my supplements and the muscle twitching is about the same.
On a scale of 1-10, 10 being constant twitching, I’d say I’m at a 2 or 3. I still haven’t been able to get rid of them completely. Again, I probably just need to stop all supplements for a few days to see if they stop completely.
It might also be stress or the drug-induced sleep I’ve been getting. I’ve really been stressing out over a variety of work issues lately and I’ve been taking Zolpidem (generic Ambien) almost nightly for the past couple weeks. It could be one or the combination of these two things that are bringing on these episodes (again, whatever these episodes are).
I haven’t dug into the long-term side effects of Zolpidem but who knows, this drug could be the source of my muscle twitching and these damn weird episodes.
Finally, it could just be part of the post-ablation healing process. I’ve read enough stories from people who have had ablations to know that it can take months for the heart and body to go back to normal after an ablation. I’ve read many times where people experience periodic bouts of PVC’s, PAC’s, afib, and generally “strange things” for months after an ablation and then eventually things settle down and everything goes back to normal. Maybe as part of the healing process I’m going through some heart rate/blood pressure issues related to the ablation recovery.
Regardless, whatever these episodes are they aren’t afib. I don’t know if they are just intense PVC’s, bouts of tachycardia, extremely low blood pressure, or what, but they drive me crazy and make me feel like crap.
If these episodes continue I may need to make an appointment with my local EP and strap on a holter monitor for a period of time to see what’s going on. Fortunately, I don’t have these episodes daily and when I do have them they aren’t always an all-day affair. We’ll see how things shake out in the coming days and weeks. I’m hoping they’re just temporary and I won’t have to deal with them much.
Unless these strange episodes continue, I will be ending my weekly updates since the blanking period is officially over. Instead, I’ll be posting monthly updates moving forward. Of course if by chance I go into atrial fibrillation or experience anything else “traumatic” dealing with my ticker I’ll be sure to post updates as well.
Until then, stay tuned…