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…
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I’ve had my second ablation 4 Apr 18 (heart surgery #5). It was suppose to help stop the PVC’s and Ventricular Tachycardia but I’m still getting them even though he found and treated 2 locations. The first ablation 10 Jan 17 he found one PAC, one A flutter and one PVC, however, I was still getting them.
He put me on the Medilynx heart monitor. It revealed PVC’s, SVT, VT heart stoppages up to 2.8 seconds, slow heart rate as low as 25. That lead to a dual-chamber pacemaker. Since then I’ve had a heart attack 6 Dec 17 stent #4 installed one re-blown up and another artery ballooned.
Wow. I can’t even begin to relate to your heart battles. You are a strong person!! Do you have a family history of heart issues? Do you have other health issues that might have lead to your heart problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.? I’m just curious why you are on 5 heart surgeries at such a young age.
Regarding your ablation, it’s only been 14 days. I’d give it some time. Things may very well settle down. It’s not uncommon at all for things to be a little rocky during the 3-month blanking period. Hang in there!
I wish you well.
Family history Mother heart attack and died at age 57 father same at age 72. 4 brothers and 1 sister have multiple stents oldest 7, 3 much younger brothers one recently had his 10th stent, youngest had 4 but died of cancer, one prison has 4 in the aorta and sister 4. but none of them have the arrhythmia’s I do. Diabetic father 2 brothers 2 sisters and I was put on the medicine May 16 as pre-diabetic. I went on high blood pressure maybe 15 years ago. After the first 2 stents in Jan 14 they doubled my cholesterol medicine to 80 mg. I went on a Cpap machine in Oct. Yes definitely bad genes. Here is a breakdown of the PVC’c and Ventricular Tachycardia since the ablation. I know I don’t feel all of them but these are the ones I have felt since 4 apr. 4 Apr 3 pvc’s, 5 APR 2 VT, 6 APR 3 VT 2 PVC, 7 APR 3 VT 9 PVC’S, 8 APR 3 VT 15 PVC, 9 APR 21 PVC 7 VT, 10 APR 7 PVC 4 VT, 11 APR 7 PVC 2 VT, 12 APR 6 PVC 6 VT, 13 APR 16 PVC 3 VT, 14 APR 7 PVC 1 VT, 15 APR 5 PVC 4 VT, 16 APR 10 PVC 3 VT, 17 APR 4 PVC 3 VT, 18 15 PVC 2 VT. I know they cant’t be eliminated completely. I can easily trigger PVC’s and VT on a tread mill in about 2 1/2 to 3 min. The cardiac rehabilitation showed amount of exertion and duration will trigger full VT 90 percent of the time that can be duplicated now, Hopefully it will reduce over the next couple of months. I see the cardiologist tomorrow for follow up after the ablation.
Interesting blog thanks for posting. I am an old cardiac nurse and looks to me like you had some atrial flutter in some of your alive cor readings. The true normal sinus rhythm occurred at 12 weeks some weeks are pretty close and as others mentioned maybe the variable from the application.
I am glad to see this, as my dad had ablation last week and his readings look the same as yours. We are excited for the “blanking period” to be over.
Again thanks for sharing your experiences!
Thanks Rachel for lending your expert opinion on the readings. To be honest, I can’t make heads or tails of the EKG readings. I rely solely on the auto filter on the AliveCor monitor. It either tells you things are normal or that there is an issue. Those recordings all came back “normal” so I assumed all was well.
I hope your dad has a successful ablation and many years of NSR!
Like others, I enjoy reading your blog as well. My ablation was 4/29/15 and I was doing well, but I started experiencing some palpitations since this past weekend. I’m the opposite of you…I think it was due to my blood pressure getting a little high due to eating too much crap (I had been eating healthy with low sodium).
This week, I’m back on the healthy eating wagon to see if that helps. I don’t take any supplements, but thinking about taking magnesium. After reading your update, I also just purchased an AliveCor monitor- they seem pretty neat to have. I just ended my 4 week monitoring with the EP’s service.
Congrats on the ablation! I wouldn’t get too worried about the palpitations just yet. You’re still well within the 3 month blanking period so palpitations, afib, etc. are to be expected (in most cases anyway). Like I said in my post, it’s not uncommon to experience issues up to a year after an ablation. We’re all different so recovery experiences and time are going to vary.
Magnesium is all the rage among afibbers and I’ve been on the magnesium bandwagon myself for the past couple years. However, I’m not so sure if it helps or not. According to my EXA Test results I’m still very low on magnesium despite taking large amounts of it every day for the past several months. I continue to take large doses of magnesium but I have no idea if it’s being absorbed or not or if it’s doing any good. I don’t think it’s doing any harm, however, so whatever…I figure at the very least it’s a cheap way to maybe help with my afib.
AliveCor monitor is a wise investment. I think every afibber should own one. However, as I stated in my other comment below, the EKG readings are inconsistent and not as crystal clear as an EKG you’d get in a doctor’s office. I hope that improves in future versions of the monitor.
I wish you the best during your ablation recovery. Keep us posted!
It helped to read your blog, it has been a seven year ordeal for me. In these past year’s I have had four cardio versions and two catheter ablations. Today was supposed to be the day I got my clean bill of health. My last ablation was 15 months ago and I had a check up in February. My doctor was so happy with the progress, but today’s check up brought disappointing news. Back to square one, back in afib…oh well. Glad to hear yours went well and wish all the best with your progress.
Your experience with afib is somewhat similar to mine. I too have had 4 cardioversions over the 9 years I’ve had atrial fibrillation. Fortunately, I’ve only had one catheter ablation but odds are I’ll need a touch up sooner or later too.
I’m sorry to hear you’re back in afib. That sucks. How bad is it? Are you in afib all the time or occasionally? And are you symptomatic or not? Most importantly, what’s the game plan? Do you go for a 3rd ablation at this point? I’m really curious what your options are and what you’re going to do. Either way, I wish you the best and I truly hope you find a way to manage (and hopefully cure) your afib!
Congratulations on the end of the blanking period !
I’m really sorry to hear the recent changes in your recovery pattern. Anyway, I think that it will be transitory and soon I will have news that it was just part of the healing process.
Have you sent the EKG trace that you posted here to Natale’s staff? I noticed a slight change in your EKG pattern but I think that it maybe related to the position of the AliveCor when you recorded the EKG. (Please, dont’ be alarmed!)
Take care and I wish a thousand years of NSR to you.
Thanks for your comments. I want to clarify that for the most part my recovery has been mostly unchanged. These “episodes,” whatever they are, have only occurred a few times. I think they are mostly PVC’s brought on by stress and lack of sleep. I didn’t send this specific EKG to Dr. Natale’s office but I did take a recording with the heart rate monitor they gave me. They haven’t said anything so I’m assuming it wasn’t anything of concern.
I’ve also noticed that these EKG readings from the AliveCor monitor are inconsistent and not totally “accurate.” Like you said, they vary widely based on the position of the monitor, how tight you hold on to it, etc. It’s not a perfectly clear and accurate EKG like you’d get from the doctor’s office. To be honest, I don’t care much about the EKG as I don’t really know how to read them anyway. I mainly rely on their algorithm which will tell you with good accuracy if you’re in afib or not. And if I’m really concerned I’ll send the EKG to a technician to be reviewed.
Thanks for the well wishes of NSR. I wish you NSR as well!
I always enjoy reading your blog, I like your writing style and your humor. As for these recent symptoms your experiencing, I don’t mean to spook you in any way, but I think you should keep an eye on any of the standard complications of an ablation apart from the heart, just in case their is something you’ll catch it early and address it, such as pulmonary stenosis, etc…
I definitely have become a fan of your engaging writing style and I wish you would continue your weekly updates even if brief, if you don’t then most certainly you’ll be missed.
regards, and wishes of good health and long life to you. Saad
You do realize you’re dealing with a hypochondriac? Now you’re going to have me up all night worrying about pulmonary stenosis and other “complications”…lol. Gee thanks.
Only kidding. Thanks for your kind words. I’m not going any where. I’ll still be posting here and there in between my monthly updates. They just won’t fall under “My Afib Journey” category of blog posts. They’ll be on a variety of topics related to afib.
Take care and thanks for being a reader of this blog. I appreciate it.
Yes. Please keep us posted. I have been so interested in your recovery and thrilled for you that things have gone so well. I will miss your weekly updates, but pray we won’t hear from you for a month. Which will mean all is well. Take care and enjoy your family, life and health.
Thanks for your kind words. I really appreciate it. I hope as well that I won’t have weekly updates because if I do, then things aren’t going well! I’ll still be posting occasionally on various topics related to afib in addition to my updates.
Take care and I wish you well!
Intense headaches with palpitations is probably something I would get looked at sooner rather than later.
Ya, I’m not too worried about it right now. It’s not like I have them every day nor is it an all day thing (except that one day it was bad). The reason I’m not too concerned is that everything checks out. My AliveCor monitor would catch anything “serious” and it comes up normal every time. Plus, I don’t even know if it’s palpitations I’m experiencing. Like I said, it could be a blood pressure thing for all I know.
Bottom line, I won’t be running to the doctor until it truly becomes an issue. I still think it’s primarily my supplements and just part of the post ablation healing process.
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