The Last Month has been a Real Test of the Heart

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Hello everyone. Coming to you live from Toronto General Hospital, where the trays come in hot and the cutlery comes in cold. Why am I at the hospital you may ask? No I am not visiting anyone, I am a patient and have been here since July 4th. Yes, Happy July Fourth to me. MAGA and all that shit.

Before I go into why I am here let me lead with, as best I can say, I am fine. I feel fine, I am not sick, I feel like I am stuck in bed and have the world waiting on me and while nice, it’s like there are others who need it, not me.

I am here because in the last month it has been discovered I have both a heart arrhythmia and atrial fibrillation (AFIB).

Basically I have a runaway heart rate and one of the lower ventricles is much weaker than it should be. The heart is all out of whack.

How did this happen? They don’t exactly know yet. Right now they are focused on a long-term fix. I have a whole bucket of pills I am taking to slow down my heart to normal and then they can go about resetting the electrical function. Trust me it’s a lot to digest. I have had 5 days to get it down.

The good news is I am a young guy and once fixed it seems like I should go back to normal. At least that is where we sit today. There are still some CT scans and even a MRI to come to try to find out the why.

My lungs are great, my blood pressure is normal and I actually don’t mind the food here. Between a pill to suck all the retained water out of my body and the small portion sizes I am down 12 lbs. so far. Not a bad diet. I don’t recommend the AFIB diet but man it works.

Okay that is a lot for you to soak in right? Hospital, heart, WTF, how is Katie doing with the boys etc. etc.

We are all dealing with it the best we can. Thankfully we are trained for this kind of thing as we are pretty independent people. She is doing amazing.

I don’t want to dwell on the worry. Between the real talk doctors and what the nurses have been saying, I have nothing to stress or obsess about. I am in the best place possible. As I keep saying to myself. Let’s worry about it when I have to worry about it.

I am on a strict low salt diet and a strict liquid restriction right now. 1500 mls/day of liquid is not a lot. When drink comes I swear to God it’s like the first time I have had cold water or crisp orange juice. It’s pretty much my favourite part of the day. I even try to back horde mls for night-time as a little treat. Last night I had orange juice AND water at the same time. If you gave me an ice-cold Coke right now I may literally pass out.

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The hospital staff have been amazing and so friendly. I think they enjoy how easy a patient I am compared to others on my floor.

It’s almost lunch time so I am going to pause and pick up later.

I’m back. Now that maybe was the best lunch I have had here. Sadly it goes by so fast as portions are for the elderly. That is probably my biggest struggle of the week is always being hungry and thirsty.

So that’s where I stand right now. Like most places the weekend is slow. I suspect action on the get me out of here plan will pick up again. Also I am on the list to move up to the 5th floor which is more where I am supposed to be.

A timeline of how we got here

Beginning of June

I found myself overly sweaty at work when I should not have been sweating. I questioned my coworkers odd tolerance of crappy AC but as it turns out I was running hot.

June 8th-10th

Went to Chicago for the weekend with a friend. As we were walking around city I became very fatigued and uncomfortable all the time. Thought it was humid weather and over eating. It would come and go but felt manageable. When I got home, I felt fine again. Very full of red meat and drinks but I felt normal.

June 11th

Went to gym. Felt fine.

June 13th

Started to feel tired again all the time when just doing my usual walking.

June 14th

Walked to dinner with Katie and she really noticed my sweating and fatigue. But it always passed.

June 15th

Taking Harry to soccer, he was aware of my slowness as I took some breaks walking to his game.

June 16th-17th

Fatigue came and went to the point where the Sunday I felt pretty good. Had a nice Father’s day.

June 22nd

I walked the kids to school and felt wiped. Got fed up and went to walk in clinic to get checked up. Everything checked out except he said my heart sounded off. Potentially AFIB and recommended me to a clinic to get it looked at.

June 26th

Went to clinic for a EKG and an ECHO. They hooked me up to the EKG and pretty much right away said I had to go to the hospital. Despite feeling fine on the trip over, I had a heart rate of 190. I was taken by ambulance to the emerg at Toronto General. I got my first taste of how amazing paramedics are. They keep things light and do their job. They calmed me down and took care of me until I was in room.

From there they put me on some drugs and an IV and I sat there for four hours until my heart rate was down. I went home with a prescription for Diltiazem, which I thought at the time was the magic drug cause I felt normal other than the occasional racing heart. I was also on basic aspirin.

June 27-  July 3rd

Felt pretty good again. Went about my daily business. Steps were back up to 8k. Ate fine. Just the occasional heart flutter and sweating. Oh right on the Monday I did have what we think was a small case of heat stroke as I had the chills and wasn’t sweating. I flooded myself with liquid and felt better in a few hours. Thanks again Katie for taking over.

July 4th

Went to the Women’s College for a check up with a Cardiologist and that’s when this story really took off. The goal of the day was to build a plan going forward now the drugs were working. The day consisted of many meetings. Talked to people to lay out how to live with AFIB. Met with a doctor to talk about thyroid. Met with a sleep apnea doctor. Side note I have an overnight sleep test in September. The whole day was meeting after meeting waiting for an ECHO (that I never had the week before) at 4pm. Then once I had that I was good to go home. Or so I thought.

The ECHO showed a weakness in one of the lower ventricles of my heart. It was not doing enough for them to feel safe to let me leave. So they tried to admit me but there were no beds. So guess where that left me?

Yep another ambulance ride back to where I was the week before. This time I was there for 10 hours. Just sitting in a room listening to the crazy ER. Again, amazing paramedics. By the time this was over I had  met with another cardiologist at about 3am and I was off the Diltiazem as I guess it’s the worst thing for heart damage. The magic drug was gone and I was on many other ones.

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July 5th

Admitted to the fourth floor of Toronto General. Room 189. Where I have been ever since. They got me all set up on a good plan to FIX my heart so I don’t come back. But that plan takes time. Katie spent the day with me and sat through each talk and explanation of what was up and what was going to happen. She was my Rock, no pun intended. It’s nice she works so close.

You are now up to date. I still have an irregular beat that is too fast but I feel very hopeful tomorrow is a turning point.

Other observations

  • Hospital Wi-Fi is kick ass. It’s life saving. Which is funny at a hospital. I have been binge watching everything.
  • Who still rents the TV in the room?
  • I have had two neighbours so far. The first never put his oversized Smartphone down and had the sound cranked for rings, speakerphone, texting etc. Nothing like listening to someone type a message for an hour.
  • As Charlie would say, there is a chair in the shower, I want one.
  • I track my drinking and peeing. Nothing like peeing into a measuring cup.
  • I have had more chest hair yanked off this week.
  • The atrium is beautiful. It’s a nice break to get wheeled there a few times a day. Oh right. Despite feeling fine they won’t let me walk anywhere other than the bathroom.
  • The food has been above average. I would say only twice I was grossed out. There has been some issues on forgetting tea bags or cutlery but I can’t complain.
  • Screw you salt I now have Mrs Dash.
  • My hashtag is #afiblife
  • The window room will always be better than the inside room. I am the inside room and it really sucks. I hope when I move I upgrade to that sweet, sweet window.

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That’s it. If you stop by bring chips. Eat them for me. I am weird that way. Oh and a large slush would be the shit.

Sal please don’t point out typos.

Thank you to the World Cup and the Three Lions. It’s coming home.

Lastly, big shout out to work who has allowed me to not stress about that.

I miss my normal. I miss those boys. I miss my better half.

Have questions? Leave in comments or use the contact form. Or if you actually know me, email or text. I am hella-bored.

Michael Cusden
Michael is the creator of Like A Dad and uses his daily experiences of being a parent and a marketing dude as his content. Always looking to connect with other parents and bloggers.

1 Comments

  1. As sorry as I am to learn of your current situation, I loved reading about it. You express yourself so well in your writing. I could almost feel the shortness of breath and fatigue you were experiencing. I am happy to hear you are feeling better and hope your health crisis gets resolved quickly.

    Reply

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