the thread of ATRIAL FIBBING

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a month or so back i went for my six monthly asthma check-up: all fine -- a bit breathless, a bit overweight, but nothing to be alarmed about… except my blood pressure was unusually (tho not wildly) high… the nurse suggested i talk to the GP

a week later i saw the GP: blood pressure now more or less normal (the first reading seems to have been an anomaly)… but did i know i had an irregular heartbeat: i did not. he sends me for an ecg there and then and calls in another, more experienced colleague -- yes, atrial fibrillation, or AF, as everyone calls it. one of the chambers of the heart -- atrial is from atrium, latin for a large open space within a building -- is not pumping properly with the rest, but kind of fluttering quite fast… doing the work, but in the wrong way

quite common, in itself quite treatable -- higher risk of strokes, underlying causes can be sinister, need to look out for heart attacks

i had been feeling a little odd recently: in particular when waking up, a bit lightheaded, a but buzzy and fluttrry, as if the blood were thrilling in my fingertips (not quite tingling, i can never quite find a better word than thrilling, tho doctors look blank when i use it) -- was this related? maybe

referred off for blood tests (next day) and echo cardiogram (appointment a month away): warned to looking out for breathlessness (asthmatic, hard to spot), chest pains travelling to arms and throat -- if these occurred, call GP or at weekends go to A&E -- and keep the warning threshold low, better safe than sorry

OK: once you're advised to look out for chest pains -- for fear of a heart attack -- you notice a LOT OF SENSATIONS IN YOUR CHEST… plus i was intermittently feeling fluttery and odd, not bad exactly but not myself

the saturday following this GP visit, i felt distintictly weird with -- i don't know to call them -- not pains, certainly not shooting pains, but mild sensations of griping in my chest, mainly to the left of my heart… talking to NHS helpline (111); they asked a lot of questions abt symptoms (mostly negative) and go to A&E -- better safe than sorry

triaged at A&E (another ECG) and then a very long wait -- clinic is largely full of young people with amateur sporting injuries… i am not seen for some hours, probably because not instantly urgent. when seen, instantly given a disprin and CLOPIDOGREL to thin blood: diifferent kinds of decoagulant

describing symptoms to a doctor whose english isn't great: making her laugh when she ask "do you feel pain anywhere?" and i say "i'm 56, i feel pain everywhere"

hooked up to a heart monitor and left: monitor beeps trills with alarm whenever irregularity of beat gets too extreme; a nurse comes to turn the alarm off. One asks me if I’m breathing — I say, “What?” as I couldn’t quite believe the question and she says, “Computer says you’re not breathing but you must be, you’re talking to me,” and went off chuckling to herself.

Doctor comes back to take blood — as clumsily and painfully as I’ve ever had blood taken. Also unsuccessfully: she had to get a nurse to do it all over again (nurse rolling eyes and muttering “doctors,” at herself and a little at me). .More waiting: the curtain is drawn back so I can watch activity on the ward and occasionally hear my name mentioned. Lots of people in a desperate state: I’m feeling a bit of a fraud or a nuisance, though no one says so. Unsure if being let home that evening (main worry: I'm cat-sitting -- who do i call to dep for me and how to sort this out logistically, the key to my neighbour's flat is in my pocket). Also phone running low.

Sent for x-ray: wheeled there on my bad by a very chill and amusing porter who asks if i like going fast and pushes the bed down an empty corridor VERY fast, x-rayed by a very camp and anxious x-ray operator w/a big red hipster beard.

Shift changes: new nurse chatty comes on and explains stuff (inc.the wait). Doctor returns: all tests are negative, but my AF is fast (I was right to come in) and she prescribes DIGOXIN. Home again -- sleep better, thx to digoxin.

GP again: he affirms that all tests are negative (meaning no sign of impending or previous heart-attack, and some underlying causes ruled out). Chest x-ray also shows nothing sinister: apparently I have a blunted right angle -- but he seemed unworried by it. takes me off DIGOXIN and onto BISOPROLOL (a beta blocker, small dose at first in case it interferes w.asthma: in the event it does not) and refers me to a cardiologist. cardiologist visit is a bit of a frustrating dud imo: he talks mostly to himself, can't open his computer to see my relevant records (he's a locum), talks abt CARDIOVERSION (which the GP had been cautious about), which will need me going onto decoagulants and seems to think I shd have a much higher does of bisoprolol… mainly he's cross with me that the echo cardiogram hasn't happened yet.

(cardioversion is an electric shock to jumpstart the delinquent atrial chamber into synching with the rest of the heart: decoags bcz blood can pool in a fibbing atrial chamber and form clots, and the jumpstart can release it = risk of stroke)

so that is where i am: the beat-blockers are working well (i was a bit insomniac for a while but it's not a routine side-effect and may well have been pre-trump anxieties); echo cardiogram is next month -- then back to a cardiologist (i hope a different one) to discuss cardioversion or other treatment. i feel myself again, am sleeping properly, off all caffeine (and past the caffeine hangovers), dieting reasonably rigorously and planning to exercise more any day now (high-intensity work-outs are contraindicated lol), drinking only red wine now and then…

plus feeling a bit sorry for myself. and bcz i can't help feeling this was a bit self-inflicted (causes are various -- sometimes never determined -- but two likely ones are caffeine and being overweight and out of condition) (plus a month's stressing over that kickstater may not have helped), a bit guilty also :(

mark s, Saturday, 12 November 2016 10:49 (three years ago) link

I wouldn't beat yourself up about the caffeine. The latest guidelines say it is unlikely to cause AF:

"Habitual caffeine ingestion has been investigated in several prospective cohort studies (Table 9), but these failed to show any significant relationship to incident AF.168 Also, heavy coffee drinking167 failed to demonstrate a significant relationship between caffeine and AF or flutter even in very high consumers (10 cups, 1000 mg/day). Overall, caffeine consumption on a habitual and regular basis does not seem to increase the incidence of AF."

Zelda Zonk, Saturday, 12 November 2016 12:00 (three years ago) link

By the way I interviewed a cardiologist who is an expert in AF the other day (I'm a medical journalist), and because both my parents have AF I asked him what I should do to maximise my odds of avoiding it. He said: control your blood pressure, control your weight, and if you have sleep apnoea get it treated.

Zelda Zonk, Saturday, 12 November 2016 12:14 (three years ago) link

Might talk to my GP about sleep apnoea -- not aware that it's a problem, tho i do get sleep paralysis now and then.

mark s, Saturday, 12 November 2016 12:28 (three years ago) link

and thanks ZZ, i started t thread to find stuff out, not (just) to talk abt myself

mark s, Saturday, 12 November 2016 12:39 (three years ago) link

good thoughts to you mark - let's hang out soon?

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Saturday, 12 November 2016 13:00 (three years ago) link

yes! (thank you)

mark s, Saturday, 12 November 2016 13:07 (three years ago) link

good thoughts.

my father also has recently had some of those issues (faints, trips to the hospital, checks about two years ago) (there was a risk of irregular heart beat at some point too, but it was a kind of precautionary talk).

Anyway he has been lightly exercising regularly and is feeling much better, and has had to be very very disciplined about his diet (he has cut off ALL drinking)

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 12 November 2016 13:48 (three years ago) link


mark s, Saturday, 12 November 2016 14:24 (three years ago) link

Atrial fibrilation is an area where "excessive" aerobic exercise appears to have harms. A number of cardiologists (most publically James O’Keefe) favor some moderation (1-20 mi/wk running equivalent, but not more) because of AF, hypertrophic fibrosis, and increased atherosclerosis in high intensity runners.

5 times more AF in athletes than non-athletes
19% more AF in those exercising more than 5 hr/wk

Distribution of all possible outcomes (Sanpaku), Saturday, 12 November 2016 14:41 (three years ago) link

first reaction: i don't take tips from james o'keefe!
second: no danger here of excessive aerobic exercise tbh -- once my weight is down a bit and my asthma under better control i will explore stuff that's *gently* aerobic
(maddeningly the london fields lido is closed for refurbishment for the next few months: swimming is my usual outlet, with a nice brisk walk back and forth)

thx for links :)

mark s, Saturday, 12 November 2016 14:47 (three years ago) link

I believe AF is often congenital, and many people have it all their lives and don't know it until it's diagnosed ... wondering if/whether you caused it or could have prevented it seems like a natural reaction but also a source of needless stress.

My father has been treated for AF for a long time and it seems not to have affected his quality of life very much (at 82 it's not at the top of his long list of medical problems). The blood-thinning drugs now in use seem to be much better and safer than what he was prescribed 25 years ago.

Brad C., Saturday, 12 November 2016 15:14 (three years ago) link

One nice aspect is that this is the one area of my life in which people routinely describe me as "young"! Admitttedly my GP -- who is literally 12 -- grinned a bit as he did so the first time, but it was still pleasing to hear, if unconvincing.

mark s, Saturday, 12 November 2016 15:21 (three years ago) link

woke up at 6-ish with fingers tingling* again, first time at this degree since i went onto beta blockers -- v mild symptom in itself, but it's the one everyone i've seen seems to skip over, as in "oh, i don't know if that's linked" -- ok but something must be causing it, it only started a few weeks ago

*except this isn't the right word

mark s, Thursday, 17 November 2016 10:05 (three years ago) link

consequence: tired all day, not got much work done, can't focus (this is lack of sleep but the fingers thing seems to cause that)

could maybe up my BB dose but shd probably check with a doctor first

mark s, Thursday, 17 November 2016 15:17 (three years ago) link

two weeks pass...

ok so i just came back from my ECHO CARDIOGRAM

the nurse taking the reading sad: "apart from the arrhythmia nothing to worry about here, everything heathy and being kept under control, nothing running away with itself" -- i choose to read this as GOOD NEWS! the info will go back to the cardiologist i didn't take to and he will write to my GP and it will decided if/when i go onto to CARDIOVERSION

in terms of my self-care, basically the daily dose of beta blocker are effectively keeping everything chill, maybe twice a week i feel my fingers are fizzing and thriilling a bit and up the dose a bit

i am fully off coffee for three months more or less -- that one cup i had three weeks ago really made itself felt, and as it seems a bit daft to be necking beta blockers just to undo the effect of a strong cappuccino i will no repeat the experiment

alcohol: red wine seems fine (as per medico-urban-mythological factoid re heart health); beer's effect i notice a bit more so i will probably stick to red wine; anything wildly salty (like a large packet of crisps) seems to get my heart pit-pattering (though a good long slug of water seems to calm it down)

i am sleeping excellently (absence of coffee, who knew! beta blockers may also be contrbuting): literally for the first time in my life routine fast asleeply as head hits pillow -- i am more aware than i ever was of the degree to which yr heart responds to and contributes to matters emotional (which is obviously like DUH! given every document slurched out by the romantical-industrial complex but is still a surprise to notice when you have a condition novel enough to notice variation as it happens) -- life is just a never-ending forest of feels and yr organs are right in there working at that

so yes: next task, try and lose a bit of weight over xmas so the cardiologist doesn't make more unkind comments i guess

mark s, Wednesday, 7 December 2016 16:12 (three years ago) link

oh, also: i am definitely more physically tired at the end of the day than i'm used to being -- presumably bcz my pore wee heart is not currently able to oxygenate my blood so effieicently, one chamber is pumping much more to less effect

^^^possibly also the absence of the energy-shifting effect of coffee is contributing to this feeling -- viz i am no longer waking up tired and sluggish, which was pretty routine when i was highly caffienatated

mark s, Wednesday, 7 December 2016 16:15 (three years ago) link

ps you get to hear the magnified sound of yr own heart with an echo cardiogram, and in my case a more unconvincing and indolent arrhythmic squelch it is hard to imagine :\

mark s, Thursday, 8 December 2016 10:23 (three years ago) link

one month passes...

belated update: two saturdays ago i fainted in the bathroom, banging my head quite sharply on the edge of the bath as i fell -- i spent the afternoon in A&E being checked out

conclusion: no concussion, and incident semi-unrelated to AF -- i have also suffered from VASOVAGAL SYNCOPE all my life (proneness to to faint: going through puberty i was toppling over like an automated ninepin) and apparently it has a tendency to return in middle age. it occurs bcz the body is not able to regulate blood pressure with the swift exactness it's supposed to (so e.g. it ends up in yr legs not yr head when you stand up too quick?)

probably -- this was my sister's suggestion (she also suffers from VS, plus her partner has AF) -- the beta blockers slightly exacerbate the tendency to sluggish regulation, so i shd take it seriously when i feel dizzy and not just sit down but LIE down, with legs elevated if possible…

mark s, Friday, 27 January 2017 11:47 (three years ago) link

ffs! :/

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Friday, 27 January 2017 11:51 (three years ago) link

Hope you're keeping well since then, dude - a friend of mine has a proneness to proneness brought on by having a wee - this is only amusing for everyone else.

Andrew Farrell, Friday, 27 January 2017 11:55 (three years ago) link

yes i've been fine since, no recurrance, and the doctor i saw talked me through the various triggers, so forewarned is forearmed (that particular one i don't seem to be cursed with)

i was actually a lot less bothered by fainting itself -- i am kind of used to it, tho it had been several years since the last time it happened -- than the fact of the bang on the head (a dimension i somehow always till then avoided)

the worst injury i sustained as a teen was fainting on the way to a music lesson with a schoolfriend after i turned my ankle stepping carelessly off a kerb (sharp pain was my primary trigger as a kid). i came to with my face pressed onto gravel and my pal kicking in the chest to "wake me up" -- he assumed i was kidding around, i think

i brushed myself off and limped into the lesson

mark s, Friday, 27 January 2017 12:04 (three years ago) link

one month passes...

CARDIOVERSION scheduled for 20 april: an electric shock to restore proper hearth rhythm

(i need to lose a bit of weight by then, i feel)

mark s, Wednesday, 1 March 2017 14:35 (three years ago) link

rescheduled for 18 may (and above post shd read "heart rhythm", my hearth is in good working order beats-wise)

mild irritation re poor communication between hospital/consultant's office and GP: when i first get an apoointment for this procedure, former tells me i need to be on anti-coagulants for a minimum of 6-8 weeks in preparation -- i get a letter (which i know also goes to my health centre bcz i copy and post it; i imagine it also arrives at my heath centre via the shared computer link but probably doesn't actually ping onto anyone particular's desk alerting them to this request re anti-coag)

after a week or so not hearing anything i call and leave my GP -- actually the trainee GP who originally saw me -- a message to call me, which he does the following day (he's not in every day). i ask him about prescribing the anti-coagulants: he says it's probably less complicated if i talk to the cardiology department about it, which i do

they say they'll send the request through to the health centre

i hear nothing for a few more days and ring up my GP again: he says "oh that.s naughty of them, what they should do is book you into the anti-coag clinic [or similar, i forget the actual term he used], where this is dealt with" he looks for and finds the request -- says "ok, maybe i should prescribe this directly from here, i'll just check with my colleagues if that's ok" -- which he does, fairly swiftly, so that's ok, i can pick the meds up the next day

we also both now spot that the 6-8 weeks has -- in all this fiff-faff -- been fairly sharply cut into (20 april is exactly six weeks from today) so if i do need to be on them the full whack, it's already too late. he says "maybe ring up the cardiologist and re-book"

which i do, and it's fine -- but basically the only reason any of this was sorted was me being the go-between between the two offices, which i feel is not how it's meant to work (viz if my english was poor or if i didn't have my mum's scepticism abt the ability of professionals to do the common-sense bits of their jobs better than me)

(tbf my gp is lovely -- if young -- and i enjoy talking to him; and ditto the person on the phone in cardiology -- the consultant was a bit of a twerp but with luck i will be under anaesthetic during my next dealings with him)

mark s, Thursday, 9 March 2017 17:40 (three years ago) link

my mum's scepticism was abt the ability of professionals being to do the common-sense bits of their jobs better than HER: she generally thought i was also p bad at this kind of stuff)

mark s, Thursday, 9 March 2017 18:22 (three years ago) link

one month passes...

update: after a suggestion from my sister's b/f -- who has the same condition and is on the same meds -- i switched the time of day i take my beta blockers from morning to evening

as a result i am MUCH LESS TIRED during the day (in fact back to normal), bcz my tired period as a consequence of the beta blockers coincides with actually being asleep (and in fact i sleep really well)

(i was told to take them in the morning initially bcz they sometimes affect ppl w/asthma, and also some ppl feel nauseous -- my GP felt i shd be fielding these reactions during the day when i could go into the health centre and not in the middle of the night when i'd have to go into A&E -- but as i am not having either reaction it seems an unnecessary precaution) (plus also switching them to evenings is clearly working better)

mark s, Tuesday, 25 April 2017 19:47 (three years ago) link

Glad you're feeling better; I'd missed this thread til now. I can back up the evidence that mid-50s are not for the cowardly!

Supercreditor (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 25 April 2017 20:09 (three years ago) link

switching your beta blocker to nighttime is fine -- your tiredness may be simply related to decreased exercise tolerance, a common side effect of beta-blockers (even B1 selective drugs like bisoprolol), especially in people like you with underlying pulmonary disease (asthma). as an added bonus, there is even a little bit of literature indicating a mortality benefit from nighttime vs daytime use of antihypertensives (which include beta-blockers), though the evidence is not terribly strong last i checked

the "thrill" you feel in your fingers is actually very likely due to the AF -- when the heart is in AF, the cardiac output (a measure of how well the heart pumps blood around the body, especially the sites furthest from the heart such as the fingers) is lower due to the dyssynchronous beating. do your fingers often feel cold? this also explains your recent passing out episode (blood wasn't being pumped effectively to your brain). lightheadedness is a very common symptom of AF, and it's interesting that you mention that you've had fainting spells in the past, as you've likely had paroxysmal AF for quite some time. be sure to take your bisoprolol regularly!

being put on digoxin initially is peculiar - this drug is rarely used for AF these days

honestly if half of the people in the world were as up to speed with their medical conditions as you are, we'd spend a lot less on health care. if you're looking for a good reference, UpToDate's beyond the basics series is a really good resource for patients who care to know more about their disease and have a reasonable degree of health literacy. you can check it out here:

k3vin k., Tuesday, 25 April 2017 20:17 (three years ago) link

cheers k3vin, that's all extremely useful :)

if anything the finger "thrill" is more like they're warmer than they ordinarily would be: it's not a numbness -- it's a bit like the way yr face sometimes feels when you're quite drunk, that you can feel it more than you should be able to (which is overdilation of capillaries maybe?)

i did used to suffer from cold fingers as a kid (not helped by living in a v cold house and having to do lots of musical instrument practice in unheated rooms) but i wouldn't especially say i do now

i also suffer from easily putting my leg to sleep by sitting on it like a kid, slightly awkward in an office when yr hobbling around trying to get the blood back into it, and everyone else in the office is younger than you

mark s, Tuesday, 25 April 2017 20:29 (three years ago) link

(which is overdilation of capillaries maybe?)

i mean the face is when yr drunk, i don't see how the fingers would be

mark s, Tuesday, 25 April 2017 20:30 (three years ago) link

after a week or so of much better response to the BBs (as taken in eve not morn) inc actually reducing my req dose to minimum suggested, a couple of days of increased fizziness and sleeplessness (necessitating, as i am on self-imposed deadline re introductory essay to my anthology, a COFFEE today, the first in maybe ten days) (i really have been good abt coffee considering the volume i've drunk in the last five decades)

cardioversion is on 18 may: everyone is saying supersafe procedure, back at work the next day etc -- even so i am trying to get the book in proper order before i go in

mark s, Friday, 5 May 2017 10:32 (three years ago) link

Best wishes for the procedure.

xyzzzz__, Friday, 5 May 2017 14:36 (three years ago) link

be supersafe, mark.

Supercreditor (Dr Morbius), Friday, 5 May 2017 14:40 (three years ago) link

cheers guys :)

mark s, Friday, 5 May 2017 14:41 (three years ago) link

All best Mark.

Timothy Gowers, famous mathematician, blogged his mathematical reasoning as to whether or not to have catheter ablation surgery for his (much later stage) AF:

mick signals, Saturday, 13 May 2017 00:31 (three years ago) link

cheers mick, that's interesting and useful

(mr gower is i am pleased to see still blogging five years later, which is also reassuring)

mark s, Saturday, 13 May 2017 10:15 (three years ago) link

My stepdad had that procedure in 2004 after an irregular heartbeat was diagnosed after he nearly died from pneumonia. He was a very heavy boozer and has cut it down since then, but still spends a lot of time in what he calls the fun-house (it's a casino!) playing blackjack, moderately boozing and having the odd cigar. He walks a few miles to the Town library to read the papers every morning. He is definitely in better shape now than he was 13 years ago, so it must have done him some good.

calzino, Saturday, 13 May 2017 11:20 (three years ago) link

"that procedure" = cardioversion or catheter ablation? (which is next on my suggested list, if the cardioversion doesn't take after a couple of tries)

there's also an ablation where they insert a balloon into yr arteries and blow it up which is apparently 👌🏽 😜 👌🏽

mark s, Saturday, 13 May 2017 12:39 (three years ago) link

meanwhile the oblique strategy i just turned up = "go to an extreme, move back to a more comfortable place" which seems on-point

mark s, Saturday, 13 May 2017 12:40 (three years ago) link

He had the cardioversion, which I think caused him a lot of angst at the time. He said it was no biggie afterwards.

calzino, Saturday, 13 May 2017 12:55 (three years ago) link

Good luck mark, hope yr up and at 'em again in no time

del esdichado (NickB), Saturday, 13 May 2017 16:06 (three years ago) link

Good luck with the oblation/ablation, me and the kitten golems will be think good thoughts for you tomorrow!

tokyo rosemary, Wednesday, 17 May 2017 15:30 (three years ago) link

thank you! i should be out again by the afternoon and able to be back at work again the following day acc.the medical profession

(tho lol to that, i am going to stay with my sister and be pampered over the weekend instead)

mark s, Wednesday, 17 May 2017 15:52 (three years ago) link

Good luck dude, thinking good thoughts.

Matt DC, Wednesday, 17 May 2017 15:55 (three years ago) link

Yeah good luck man

Le Bateau Ivre, Wednesday, 17 May 2017 16:12 (three years ago) link


illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Wednesday, 17 May 2017 16:26 (three years ago) link

Take care! I mean, you are doing, so just keep on with that!

Andrew Farrell, Wednesday, 17 May 2017 16:31 (three years ago) link

ok so the excellent news is that i am up from under anaesthetic, out of hospital and down in hastings being pampered by my sister and her family -- i have to do nothing strenuous for two days which is FINE BY ME :D

the more boring news >:( is that the cardioversion did not work -- they stopped and started my heart three times but like the apostle paul it three times denied me so in c.6 weeks time i have to talk to a new consultant abt the next step ("he's electrical"'s cardiologist, who also told me my "heart is stubborn") (which i am not entirely astonished to discover tbf)

anyway glad to be back in one piece (i feel fine except for a routine weather headache i've had all day, not shifted by being knocked out for 60 mins or electro-jolted apparently)

mark s, Thursday, 18 May 2017 15:59 (three years ago) link

congrats on remaining alive, commiserations on having to do it all again

Drive Your Lover Wild In Bed By Cosplaying As Jeff Lynne (bizarro gazzara), Thursday, 18 May 2017 16:02 (three years ago) link

glad yr feeling good! what's the next step likely to be mark?

del esdichado (NickB), Thursday, 18 May 2017 16:19 (three years ago) link

post-consultant update:

— it wasn't my consultant it was a flunky >:(
— none of the info had come thru from homerton to barts yet so i had to fill them in on the whole thing (luckily i also had a copy of the post-homerton report)
— in conclusion, steady as she goes viz

(i) my heart's rhythm is now reliably regular, so the ablation did actually do what it was meant to
(ii) i seem to be experiencing ATRIAL TACHYCARDIA, i.e. my atrial chambers are beating fast they they shd be
(iii) when they were in there zapping the misfiring nerves they may have missed some, bcz the relevant area is dilated
(iv) i am still in the "blanking period" after the ablation, the 12-ish weeks when things can actually get worse rather than better lol (i don't think 'd been told this quite so bluntly before now, just that "you may experience palpitations") (i threw my version of the homerton's doctor's theory outlined above at him, and he didn't demur)
(v) so this may just sort itself out without further intervention (tho meds stay raised for now)
(vi) see the consultant again in december to decide future action, including possibly coming off digoxin and reducing bisoprolil again
(vii) if i do have further episodes while on these damping meds, then maybe another ablation? except there will once again be "blanking period" risks, so this has to be taken into account
(viii) none of this wiil actually kill me, and i'm on blood thinners which will fend off strokes
(ix) so here we are -- me paying attention and them aware is a good combo, apparently

mark s, Monday, 23 September 2019 10:42 (nine months ago) link

two weeks pass...

all fine as it goes -- i went to check up with the nurse abt my blood pressure meds (and in fact adjust them) and she noted that the excellent set of bloods i had from my stay in the hospital made clear that everything else, kidneys, platelets, cholesterol levels, i forget what else, is EXCELLENT. So that was nice.

We also discovered that the humming noise of the blood-pressure reading machine actually makes me tense and anxious and drives up my heart rate -- without me being aware of this (I assumed I was totally chill about everything all the time but this entire adventure has revealed to me I'm actually quite stressed much of the time -- and that taking my own blood pressure is one of the things* that stresses me)

anyway there's a another machine with a squeezy bulb which for some reason stresses me less so we used that

*being on-line is almost certainly another thing that stresses me but i will never log off :(

mark s, Wednesday, 9 October 2019 16:18 (eight months ago) link

i loved the squeezy bulb as a child, do they still put the armband on you

imago, Wednesday, 9 October 2019 16:31 (eight months ago) link

mark supplies his own armband AND jackboots iirc

to regain his mental focus, he played video-game golf (bizarro gazzara), Wednesday, 9 October 2019 16:36 (eight months ago) link

gold spiked helmet

imago, Wednesday, 9 October 2019 16:37 (eight months ago) link

Thank you for this thread, my boyfriend had what was probably a bit of atrial flutter last weekend and it really freaked us both out.

His health insurance is a very low level of coverage, so he refused to go to the ER on the basis that it would probably end up costing him his full deductible of $4000 and the med stop nearest his town doesn't accept his insurance at all. So, so far he's done nothing. Which doesn't seem satisfactory.

There's more Italy than necessary. (in orbit), Wednesday, 9 October 2019 16:42 (eight months ago) link

"Atrial fibbing" is something your cheating heart would do.

Hideous Lump, Thursday, 10 October 2019 06:11 (eight months ago) link

two months pass...

first full pot of coffee made in my own kitchen since the ablation, as i'm on major deadline today and need to be fully focused

(hence posting like an mf on ilx obv)

mark s, Tuesday, 7 January 2020 11:21 (five months ago) link

(will update my condition when this draft is sent, i hope today)

mark s, Tuesday, 7 January 2020 11:21 (five months ago) link

retroactive update: so on 30 dec i had a big post-ablation consultation -- hoping to hear that (a) the ablation had broadly worked after a hiccup that sent me back to hospital during the so-called BLANKING PERIOD and (b) i could change and reduce my medication, esp. my beta blockers (BISOPROLOL) which absolutely leave me tireder than i feel i ought to be feeling, also the RAMIPRIL (for blood pressure) leaves me headachey and the only thing that honestly counters the headache is the caffeine in ANADIN EXTRA (but caffeine brings its own problems)

(a) consultant notes that the ablation did NOT really work, that i've ended up post-procedure with ATRIAL FLUTTER which is contained and controlled by my meds as is
(b) meds not to change for now
(c) in a few weeks another CARDIOVERSION) (stop heart and restart via electric shock) to see if it can be jumpstarted into its proper rhythm -- so far cardioversions haven't been effective at all, my heart has been described as "healthy but stubborn" (which is good i guess)
(d) after that we can revisit my level of meds
(e) consultant muttered more or less to self "i'd like to bring you at least a couple of years of normal heart function" -- dude don't say the dispiriting stuff out loud plz
(f) but realistically i am caught between two consultants of very different opinion -- one (who did the last ablation) who thinks the procedures are basically a waste of time and i shd be controlling all this with meds and my life can be long and productive that way, and mine, who is gung-ho abt procudures but also now i feel disappointed (probably in me, for not being a success for his appproach) (he is nice in person, has a good and funny consultant manner)

the tiredness i guess i can learn to live with: after all i'm going to be 60 this year and i believe that's a thing! the headaches are a bore but i probably need to lose weight to tackle blood pressure and to reduce intake of RAMIPRIL, and exercise is a bit counter-indicated by tiredness, which is physical as much as mental.

(during the return to coffee noted above i was pleased to note i was not getting palps or other amplified symptoms -- to start i felt p good in fact, focused and un-achey etc. toward the end i was getting the usual morning sliuggishness and coming off caffeine i got the usual headaches, which have only just now dissipated tbrr, a week after requitting. basically my coffee counters the beta-blocker tiredness at point of consumption but then leaves me even more tired later plus less likely to sleep soundly. off coffee i sleep well and increasingly sleeping well is a deep pleasure for an ageing fellow)

mark s, Saturday, 18 January 2020 12:12 (five months ago) link

Sorry to hear this Mark, and I especially sympathise with the last clause.

Andrew Farrell, Saturday, 18 January 2020 12:17 (five months ago) link

when it's available and possible, sleeping well is basically one of life's great gifts.

after next cardioversion - if it fails - will funny yet dispiriting procedure-happy consultant perhaps start to take view of the other one?

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Saturday, 18 January 2020 14:18 (five months ago) link

i think the alternatives are further ablations or controlling it with meds

further ablations *ma*y finally jab all the misfiring buttons in the right way to shut off the misfiring, but risk further misbehaviour during the blanking period (which is basically when the scar tissue isn;lt yet grown in to muffle the misfiring)

meds: when i mentioned the tiredness to the other consultant (as my main reason to want to go ahead with the ablation) he said that different beta blockers might not have the tiredness effect? so i guess that's what i need to look into

mark s, Saturday, 18 January 2020 20:32 (five months ago) link

three weeks pass...

what is a

-checks text from mmac-

heart echo check

and why

-double checks text from mmac-

do "they" want me to get one?

BSC Joan Baez (darraghmac), Wednesday, 12 February 2020 12:31 (four months ago) link

mmm possibly "they" are reading my posts all week, tbf

BSC Joan Baez (darraghmac), Wednesday, 12 February 2020 12:32 (four months ago) link

Echocardiogram. Dunno. But it is painless!

mom tossed in kimchee (quincie), Wednesday, 12 February 2020 13:26 (four months ago) link

the suggestion i need one isnt!

BSC Joan Baez (darraghmac), Wednesday, 12 February 2020 13:27 (four months ago) link

this is a hard q to answer w/o knowing more abt yr earlier communications and interactions with them -- or did they just slide into yr DMs on twitter?

ecgs are useful for many many observsations in and around the heart obviously -- sometimes just to rule out something where you have a symptom that's very likely benign but might be an indicator of something it wd be smart to pre-empt? (i have gone from being a total snowlake abt this organ -- WHAT IF IT JUST STOPS! -- to very admiring of its rugged meaty pertinacity -- OMG IT JUST KEEPS ON GOING! -- but mine has been routinely determined, after many of same, to be v-healthy-if-somewhat-wayward…

mark s, Wednesday, 12 February 2020 14:27 (four months ago) link

on foot of an uncle, completely bolloxed after a life of hectic drinking, showing up something in a scan recently

issue could be related to his chosen career but could also have a genetic element so the icy finger of probability has poked out a text as detailed above and hit send, the dick

BSC Joan Baez (darraghmac), Wednesday, 12 February 2020 14:43 (four months ago) link

my mum was convinced i'd be male-pattern bald by 35 based on genetics, she looked at my tousled head aged 45 (me) and said "that's the one thing i've ever been wrong about"

it's a lottery is what it is and peeking inside the works can do little harm unless yr a worrier

mark s, Wednesday, 12 February 2020 14:50 (four months ago) link

coincidentally last week my doctor strongly recommended that I get one soon based on a health issue last january, which could either be anemia (probably likely, my iron is historically bad but I thought it was under control) or some other unrelated heart issue

like, I’m eating an elephant head (katherine), Thursday, 13 February 2020 01:52 (four months ago) link

I've had intermittent atrial fibrillation (lone atrial fib) for 12 years now. It was originally treated with a right heart ablation. That is not now considered the definitive treatment, but that in combination with flecainide it has kept me mostly free of it

The weird thing is that my older brother has had almost exactly the same experience

Dan S, Thursday, 13 February 2020 02:22 (four months ago) link

does anyone else run around bumping into people for an hour three times a week

i somewhat dread being informed that is a thing not to do anymore

BSC Joan Baez (darraghmac), Thursday, 13 February 2020 08:04 (four months ago) link

5-a-side? Dodgems?

Ngolo Cantwell (Chinaski), Thursday, 13 February 2020 09:17 (four months ago) link

the polycule regrets

mark s, Thursday, 13 February 2020 10:12 (four months ago) link

xp think of a hybrid version basically yeah

BSC Joan Baez (darraghmac), Thursday, 13 February 2020 10:21 (four months ago) link

one month passes...

so it's being said ppl with heart issues are at risk covid-style but i don't know if this includes fibbing? i keep being told my heart is basically v healthy, it's just like keeping time badly

mark s, Saturday, 14 March 2020 16:01 (three months ago) link

Sigh. I don't know either but my bf had an extremely scary day of recurring episodes two weeks ago, potentially connected to working out at the gym? With no chance of insurance anytime soon he was considering flying to another country and paying for private care just to find out wtf is wrong with him but that's off for now, so...very worried, yes. My sense is no one really knows much re covid so far?

There's more Italy than necessary. (in orbit), Saturday, 14 March 2020 16:31 (three months ago) link

i was on a AF mailing list until december which gathered all kinds of info -- no idea how reliable -- but (a) it all just went into a mailbox i never looked at and (b) i seemed to have been signed off it since jan so i'm none the wiser

mark s, Saturday, 14 March 2020 16:43 (three months ago) link

so anyway i am lined up for a cardioversion in a few weeks (no date yet) which in routine times is an unproblematic and unrisky heart procedure, in-out in an afternoon, at worst overnight if they schedule you for an evening op, just an electric bump to see if they can nudge it back into proper rhythm for a while

i'm guessing it will simply be postponed bcz urgent stuff will be overwhelming the system in all other directions (tho barts doesn't have an A&E so maybe not) (except my last one was at homerton, which very much does).

anyway i guess wait and see what i'm told -- maybe this is how i will find out how at risk i am

mark s, Saturday, 14 March 2020 17:18 (three months ago) link

In an example of terrible timing my dad's just been told he'll need a pacemaker fitted within the month. Doctor asked him if there'd been any sudden deaths in the family...

koogs, Sunday, 15 March 2020 14:57 (three months ago) link

yikes, best of luck koogs

mark s, Sunday, 15 March 2020 15:13 (three months ago) link

He had a tiny stroke before Christmas which affected his peripheral vision and he had to surrender his driving licence for a year (at least) so now he spends even more time watching the sport on TV. Or would if it hadn't all been cancelled. He needs a hobby.

koogs, Sunday, 15 March 2020 15:22 (three months ago) link

Good luck to all.

Frank Kogan, Monday, 16 March 2020 13:45 (three months ago) link


xyzzzz__, Monday, 16 March 2020 16:01 (three months ago) link

barts just called to say that my prep appointment next week for the upcoming repeat cardioversion is indeed postponed, until when they don't know

not startled to learn this, and in fact somewhat relieved

mark s, Tuesday, 17 March 2020 16:43 (three months ago) link

Hope fibbers get a bit of clarity soon (and remain healthy!)

Mark today fb reminded me that it is a year since ur book and attendant goodies arrived at my door 🙌

felt jute gyte delete later (wins), Tuesday, 17 March 2020 16:59 (three months ago) link

just saw this, thx wins :)

yes, its actual real public birthday has been making me combination happy and sad tbh

mark s, Wednesday, 18 March 2020 12:55 (three months ago) link

so it's being said ppl with heart issues are at risk covid-style but i don't know if this includes fibbing? i keep being told my heart is basically v healthy, it's just like keeping time badly

― mark s, Saturday, March 14, 2020

I think this is right

Dan S, Friday, 20 March 2020 02:41 (three months ago) link

two weeks pass...

(dad had his pacemaker operation on Thursday, but even as an out patient op I find it odd that they went ahead with it. Was complaining on Saturday of bruising and that the external monitor wasn't finding a signal, but otherwise fine)

koogs, Sunday, 5 April 2020 21:51 (two months ago) link

all the best koogs

in AF and me news: patient (me) reports no change, all seems fine

mark s, Monday, 6 April 2020 10:22 (two months ago) link

three weeks pass...

a couple of nights now i've woken with the flutter at some intensity -- where generally sleeping damps it down.

the first i couldn't get back to sleep properly and when i did get up (earlier than intended) i discovered i'd forgotten to take my beta blockers the evening before and evening plus morning dose sorted it well enough.

the second it sorted itself out by itself and i went back to sleep and slept well and late. in each case during the wakefulness i lay worrying that i would have to go back into hospital to get it regularised (which there are now other reasons to not want happen). anyway fingers x-ed it's mostly a mix of anxiety and intense dreams.

mark s, Tuesday, 28 April 2020 11:21 (two months ago) link

like i feel absolutely fine and normal right now but during the wakefulness i could somehow sense the beginnings of every CV19 symptom lurking but i know this is a very normal state of mind for everyone awake at 4 in the moming

mark s, Tuesday, 28 April 2020 11:24 (two months ago) link

lol yes :/

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Tuesday, 28 April 2020 13:19 (two months ago) link

since this began ive hugely favoured lying on my right over my left side when trying to get to sleep: on my left (heart side down) my flutter was more evident and this made me anxious and less likely to sleep, but also i'd get a thing where as i did drop off i'd often seem to get a heart skip and this -- real or imagined -- woke me up again in a panic.

now i find i'm *entirely* favouring sleeping on my right (heart side up) bcz the other way seems actively to exacerbate the flutter? i mean i know yr ribs protect yr heart from being actually squished but

anyway this is all so borderline between symptoms real and dremt that i never get good answers when i ask the specialists or (don't do this) try and google it

mark s, Thursday, 30 April 2020 12:34 (two months ago) link

two weeks pass...

every now and then i wake early bcz the flutter seems high, like i just necked an espresso in my sleep to jolt myself awake -- and cant get back to sleep

(this time after a stressful dream abt conflict at work) (knowingly caused by me i might add lol)

mark s, Sunday, 17 May 2020 09:02 (one month ago) link

a weird thing is that caffeine seems not to heighten the flutter, quite the opposite in fact

mark s, Sunday, 17 May 2020 09:09 (one month ago) link

one month passes...

lol i just got called to be told the revised date for my repeat fibrillation is exactly a fortnight from now, which GOOD i guess but also uh oh (in hospital but not overnight unless something goes awry)

mark s, Monday, 29 June 2020 15:15 (three days ago) link

Hope this goes smoothly!

xyzzzz__, Monday, 29 June 2020 15:21 (three days ago) link

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