Yesterday I had an EP study at Vanderbilt to try to figure out the cause of my tachycardia. We were hoping they would be able to pinpoint the cause and do an ablation procedure immediately after the EP study. We showed up at the hospital at 10 a.m. and they got me all set up with an IV and heart monitor (all those wires!) and then we waited for the first case of the morning to finish so it could be my turn. It worked out really well that it was Nate's day off from work so he could keep me company until it was time for the EP study.
I wasn't too excited about wearing a hospital gown (but I did have really awesome yellow socks with no-slip padding on top and bottom). Nate sat with me while we waited and he told me I was really funny when I'm nervous. I was making a lot of jokes. They had me all hooked up to these wires and a blood pressure cuff and everything when I decided I had to go to the bathroom. I pushed the nurse call button and this random guy nurse came in and I said, "Sorry ... I have to go to the bathroom." And he said, "Oh, no!" and he leaned out the door and yelled, "We've got another one!" He was really funny and gave me a hard time about having to unplug me. You probably have to be kind of funny when you're a nurse because it's probably a really hard job sometimes.
These pictures were taken before I went in. I wasn't so happy and smiling afterward. We got in the cath lab at 12:30 and I was done around 2:30 p.m. Everything I read about an EP study online made me feel pretty good about it. It was minimally invasive and they said they give you sedation meds and pain meds to make you comfortable but not put you out. They said they'd give me an amnesia drug so I probably wouldn't remember much of the procedure.
Well apparently they decided they didn't want to give me too much sedation meds because they wanted to make sure the meds didn't keep my heart from doing its thing and apparently they didn't give me much pain meds or the local anesthetic didn't work well where they put the catheters in because it hurt really bad! I said, "Ouch! That hurts!" and they gave me more anesthetic but I don't think it helped. I cried. They told me to focus on being calm and taking deep, slow breaths. Then I had a lot of pain when they were moving the electrodes around in my heart. My chest hurt a lot and I bit my lip and toughed it out. And I remember every second of it!
I was on my back and there was a big X-ray over me so all I could see was the monitor that recorded my heart rhythm and rate. They used electrodes to make my heart go fast. They got it up to 210 at one point. They gave me a couple doses of this drug called adenosine to try to get my heart to react and it made me feel super weird for just a few seconds until it started to wear off. It wasn't fun. But their goal was to get the heart to go into tachycardia on its own, and they couldn't.
It was a 2-hour procedure and they said they couldn't find what they were looking for. I was pretty disappointed. When they wheeled me back to my room, the nurse told Nate they weren't able to give me much meds but that I did a good job. I hadn't had anything to eat or drink since before midnight the night before, so the nurse brought me water and a turkey sandwich and some baked chips. I had to lay flat in bed for two more hours to make sure the incision where they went in my femoral vein started to heal. Then Nate pulled the car up and the nurse took me down in a wheelchair to go home. They gave us a prescription for pain meds and instructions which included, "If she starts bleeding, apply pressure and call 911!"
So I'm home today recovering. Just tired and a bit sore. Since they couldn't fix me, I have to just treat my tachycardia with beta blockers. They said I probably have sinus tachycardia and if they try to fix it with ablation, in most cases it comes back within a few months and if they do something wrong, it would require a pacemaker. My cardiologist said it wasn't worth the risk. I'll go back to see him at the end of July.
So, all in all, I survived. It was ten times worse than I expected. A little traumatic. Like the worst pain I've ever experienced in my life, but I've had a pretty comfortable life so far. So that part is frustrating. Vanderbilt is a good hospital and EP studies aren't supposed to hurt at all, so I contacted my cardiologist's office this afternoon and gave them a message about my experience and asked some questions so hopefully they'll get back to me soon. Nate went back to work tonight. I'll go back to work tomorrow.