The following afib story was originally a comment left on my site in January 2014. When I read Alice’s comments my heart broke. I have lone atrial fibrillation myself but luckily so far I have only had about one episode per year for the past few years. I couldn’t imagine having constant episodes and being on meds so I totally feel for Alice. I just hope she finds a doctor that can help her.
Ironically, I was just in the E.R. myself just a few days prior to Alice leaving her comments having my 4th cardioversion. In her story below, she talks about her first experience with afib and how she had to be cardioverted. I’m glad to hear it went well for her. As someone that has had 4 of them, I can assure anyone else reading this that it really isn’t a big deal. Yes it’s a major inconvenience, expensive, and a general pain in the ass, but it isn’t painful and I never fear for my life when I have one done.
Alice also talks about the depression and anxiety that comes with afib. Amen sister. I can attest to that. People who have afib have a constant dark cloud over them. You never know when it’s going to strike so it’s a constant waiting game. And it’s even worse when you travel. What if I’m on a plane and it strikes? What am I going to do if I have an episode when I’m 1,000 miles away from home? Living in constant fear sucks.
But here’s the good news. Young people with atrial fibrillation have an option and that is an ablation. The success rates for young, healthy people is pretty good. It may take a couple procedures to work but it is definitely an option. I’ve already discussed it with my wife and we’ve decided that if I start getting more than one episode a year, I will have an ablation. I refuse to take meds for the rest of my life and I refuse to let my heart be in a constant state of arrhythmia.
I hope Alice looks into this option. She said she doesn’t have insurance, but according to Obama everyone is supposed to have insurance so hopefully she’ll be able to get it and have the procedure done.
If you have atrial fibrillation and would like to share your story, please contact me. I’d be more than happy to post it on this site to give you a place to vent:)
Travis Van Slooten
The owner of this website
Hi. My name is Alice and I was diagnosed with lone Afib on September 11, 2013. I am only 31 years old. I have been to the ER 5 times since then. I was laying in bed trying to fall asleep when my heart started racing. I changed positions hoping that it would help but it did not. After about an hour, I woke my husband up and we went to the ER where they did an EKG and proceed to scare the life out of me.
No one would tell me what was going on and they wouldn’t let me see my husband or even walk from the EKG room to the room. They finally allowed my husband to come back and then the doctor came in and explained that I had Afib and said that I had three options. I could try medication but my heart rate was 190 and he didn’t think it would be effective. He talked about doing an interesophageal ultrasound but determined that it was unnecessary as I had only been experiencing Afib for less than 2 hours. He decided that electric cardioversion was the way to go.
I did not like this decision as it sounded terrifying. He said that there was about a 1% chance of death. 99% survival rate is great for something like cancer, but not so much for an Afib procedure. He said I didn’t really have much of a choice, so we did it and thankfully it was really quite painless and worked.
He put me on Metoprolol and 81 mg chewable aspirin. I had an appoint with a cardiologist a week later and told him how horrible the Metoprolol was making me feel. He said he didn’t think it was the med but if I really wanted to we could change it. He switched me to Cardizem, which didn’t make me feel bad. All was well for three weeks until I had another episode.
Instead of going to the ER I went to the cardiologist office. Of course my cardiologist was on vacation, but his father (also a cardiologist) was able to see me. He did an EKG and my heart rate was 187. He was able to treat me with 5mg of Bystolic and sent me home. He also told me basically that it was tough, but I had to take the Metoprolol and he doubled my dose. I was not happy as I had so many problems with that medication before.
It took me several months, but I have finally gotten used to the meds and have learned how to take them so that they cause me the least problems. However, I have episodes of Afib pretty much daily. Sometimes as many as 9 or 10 a day lasting a minute or so to 5 minutes, occasionally they last up to an hour. They always follow yawning. If I yawn, I go into Afib. My cardiologist’s only response is that he has never heard of that before.
I am frustrated because he doesn’t seem interested in helping me at all. I do not have insurance and he schedules appointments for me every 6 weeks. I really can’t afford to keep going to a doctor who doesn’t answer my questions or show any interest in helping my condition. He has not done anything to look into it. I am worried that my heart will not be able to keep up with having these episodes so often and it will eventually just give out.
I do not have any heart disease or any heart abnormalities. I have gotten a lot of good ideas about supplements and different foods from this website and hopefully they will help. My primary care physician has given me a prescription for Klonopin which definitely helps with the anxiety.
I am having a really hard time accepting that this is my life now. The original doctor in the ER told me not to worry that he knows lots of people who live for 20 or 30 years with Afib. I told him I’m only 31 and I hope that I have more than 20 years to live.
My cardiologist assures me this will not kill me but is more of an inconvenience. That’s easy for him to say. It feels all consuming most of the time rather than just inconvenient. I read today that 38% of people with Afib suffer from depression because of the long-term of the affliction.
I hate that I will be on multiple prescriptions (about $150 since I have no insurance) for the rest of my life. I’m sorry to have rambled, but I don’t know anyone else who suffers from Afib so I have no sounding board for my venting. I hope that I can find a better way to manage this problem as I really don’t feel it is currently under control at all.