I can’t believe this but it’s March 17th (Happy St. Patrick’s Day by the way)! I had my ablation on March 5, 2015. Things have been going so well the past two years (well besides those pesky PVCs and PACs I battle from time-to-time) that I totally forgot that my two-year post ablation anniversary passed twelve days ago!
The only reason I remembered now was someone emailed me today asking how long I’ve been afib-free. I looked at the calendar and it hit me! It’s been two years of total afib-freedom since my ablation (and no drugs either)!
PVCs and PACs Have Settled
One of the primary reasons my anniversary slipped by without notice is because my PVCs and PACs have settled down dramatically. When your heart is mostly calm it’s easy to forget your ablation or your past battles with afib. Missing my anniversary was a wonderful sign. It showed me that I’m normal again. My heart doesn’t rule my life and it’s awesome.
Now don’t get me wrong, I still battle PVCs and PACs from time-to-time but they aren’t nearly as bad as they used to be. What happens now is I’ll have a few bad days of PVCs and PACs followed by three weeks of total peace. Sometimes I’ll go as long as four to six weeks without any issues.
When they do occur, they aren’t as intense. And since I know they’re going to be temporary I don’t let them get me down mentally or emotionally anymore. I just tell myself that “these too shall pass” and I go on. Like clockwork they go away after a few days and I’m back to normal for a while.
The Cloud Still Exists (but It’s Light Gray Now)
For nine years the dark cloud of atrial fibrillation followed me. Every day I worried about having an episode. It was especially difficult when travelling. I never surrendered to my worry, however, as I carried on with life as normal but the fear of having an episode was always in the back of my mind.
I always thought if I had an ablation the cloud would disappear but it didn’t. Instead it changed from a very dark gray cloud to a light gray one. The cloud is still there but not nearly as ominous.
The worry now is more muted, and some would say unwarranted. The worry I have now includes thoughts such as…
- How many years will I go before my afib returns?
- Is today the day my afib will rear its ugly head?
- If my afib returns will the episodes be worse, the same, or better than they were before my ablation?
- How will I react if my afib returns?
Here’s the thing, I’m afib-free right now and have been for two years. I shouldn’t even have those thoughts, right? I should just be thankful and enjoy each and every day I’m blessed with afib freedom! I try to move forward with that mindset but it’s not easy.
Remission: Afib Patients and Cancer Patients Can Relate
I’ve always thought that afibbers have something in common with cancer patients when we talk about a “cure.” They say there isn’t a cure for atrial fibrillation. If our afib goes away by itself or by treatment from drugs or an ablation, we’re told we’re not cured. We’re told it can come back anytime.
Cancer is very much the same. If cancer goes away by itself or by treatment, it’s called remission and not a cure. Fortunately for many cancer patients, remission does end up being a cure as the cancer never returns.
The same holds true for afibbers. We’re not technically cured. We’re essentially in remission. Our disease may or may not come back. But fortunately for many of us a remission does mean a cure as the afib never returns!
But in that remission it’s hard not to think about your disease or worry about it coming back. I admire those people that can put it behind them and just move on and enjoy life. I will never be that person but I’m also not the type of person who is depressed or living in intense fear of their afib returning. I have moved on but I do find myself looking in the rear view mirror from time-to-time.
God Has Given Me Peace (and Hope)
As I wrote in my 2016 Year in Review post, spending more time with God has helped immensely in giving me peace with my afib and hope for the future. I pray every night that my afib will not return but if it does, I ask God to give me the strength to deal with it. And if my afib returns, I have faith in God that he’ll take care of me. He has thus far so why would He abandon me now?
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
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Thanks for the wonderful blog Travis! I am so happy and thankful that you are doing so well! I have followed it for over 2 years as I have gone on my AFIB journey. Question for you about those PVC’s, PAC’s. When they happen and are bad, what do they feel like? Does it feel like AFIB? Different?
All my best,
Sorry…. one more thing I forgot. I think I am having them once in a while also. When I get one it feels like I have to catch my breath and then feels like the heart is off a bit. It takes about 10-15 seconds or so and then I feel normal again. Does an episode feel something like that?
Thanks for your kind words! My PVCs and PACs have a totally different feel than my afib. When I would go into afib, my heart would take off and it would feel like it was going to explode out of my chest. I was miserable and couldn’t do anything but sit down or lie down.
My PVCs and PACs feel totally different. I can feel my heart pausing or skipping. Let’s say this is a normal heartbeat: beat, beat…beat, beat…beat, beat…beat, beat. When I have PVCs and PACs, it may feel like this: beat…beat, beat,beat…beat,beat………….beat, beat………..beat, beat, beat, etc. They may feel like a small fish flopping in my chest. At other times they may feel like a butterfly.
By contrast, when I’d go into afib my heart was just: beat,beat,beat,beat,beat,beat,beat,beat,beat (150 beats per minute). Of course it would be irregular as well but it was mostly fast and unbearable! My PVCs and PACs are just a nuisance.
I hope this helps.
Congratulations Travis! I always appreciate the transparency and honesty with which you approach your updates and blog posts. As I told you in another thread, it was this website and your comments that helped embolden me to have my ablation done. Today is my seventh month anniversary and I’m feeling great, understanding that my a-fib may return some day … but, as you say, I hope not. Dealing with a-fib has also given me new perspective on my faith and on prayer. While I have prayed that God would remove the “thorn in my side” … I also realize that some day it may return and my prayer will be, like yours, that I have the strength to face it and that God’s presence would be comforting.
Thanks again for your dedication to this website and your encouragement. Stay healthy!
Wow. Thanks for your kind words. You made my day! I’m glad this website played a small part in helping you find relief from afib. I’m so glad to hear you’re going 7 months strong in NSR. Congratulations!
I love the reference to 2 Corinthians. In fact, for the benefit of my readers I’m going to include the entire passage from 2 Corinthians 12:7-10:
“…or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Have a terrific day, Michael, and I wish you many years of NSR!
I have been suffering with afib for many many years and had to have a cardioversion (paddles like on tv!) six months ago. It got me back in rhythm but my world class doctors, cardiologist and electrophysiologist, have been urging me to have an ablation and I resisted out off fear.
I finally had one on June 11, 2019 and I wasn’t as lucky as you. It is back just eight weeks after the procedure. I have heard in the first three months you can have breakthroughs. I’m not feeling so great today, heart symptoms, a little depressed, discouraged but I am a fighter and I can figure this out.
He is upping one of my pills to the therapeutic dose and I am kind of nervous but like you I will put my faith in God. Talk soon. Thanks for listening. Hardtimes!
Sorry to hear your ablation didn’t go as smooth as mine. How are you doing now? Feel free to contact me directly via my contact page if you have any specific questions.
Treating afib is a process. Most of us will need two ablations to put afib to rest. I’ve been fortunate to be afib free for the past 4 1/2 years but even I realize I will likely need another ablation in the future. Hang in there!
That’s fantastic news, Travis!! Cheers to many many more, happy, healthy ones to come. :) Happy (belated) Abliversary!
Thanks Liz! And I love that term – abliversary! I wish I would have thought of that for the title of this post!
Travis, truly awesome and an anniversary we all should forget. Having just past my 7 year anni and forgetting it until I read this caused me to be hopeful for us all this year.
Thanks James! I wish you the best!
Just for the record, I have the same thoughts and worries as you.
Thanks Christian. And I suspect all of us afibbers have the same thoughts and worries but we have to soldier on!
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