Not quite the rest I was hoping for…
Greeting Gentle Readers,
I still have a number of comments to catch up on, but it’s been slow going. We got back about a week ago from a vacation, during which I had fully intended to get caught up, that did not prove very restful or relaxing. A couple of days into the trip (before I flew down to join my husband and daughter), my van broke down and had to be towed to a dealership over 100 miles away (springing for the better AAA membership TOTALLY paid off). Turned out to be a bad alternator and a bad battery damaged by the alternator. They needed to order parts, so my husband and daughter left my van behind and continued southward in her car. She had driven separately as when we finished our vacation, she was off to a conference.
We met up on Hilton Head Island, where we were staying at the Disney Vacation Club resort, of which we are members. We had a lovely couple of days with some time spent at the pool and beach as well as a fun excursion to Savannah for the day. BTW, if you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend the Old Pink House restaurant. A bit pricey, but a wonderful historic building and the service and food are exquisite.
The next day, we were swimming in the ocean and when we went to head back to shore, my husband felt a bit out of breath. When we got up the next morning, he was very tired so he stayed behind in the room while my daughter and I went to do a bit of shopping. When we got back, he still wasn’t feeling well and when we measured his pulse rate it was 140. This was sitting at rest in an armchair, mind you. A very strong indication that he was in atrial fibrillation (afib). He was hospitalized in December with atrial flutter and underwent a cardio-revert and an ablation and then had another episode of afib in February. The one in February we caught early enough that they did an immediate cardio-revert in the emergency room then sent us home. We saw his cardiologist less than a week before he left and everything looked good, so this came as a bit of a surprise.
We looked up the local hospital, which turned out to be excellent, with an award-winning cardiology department. If you have heart problems, Hilton Head Island is a good place to have them. The nursing staff was also excellent (and trust me, at this point, I have a lot of experience by which to judge! 🙂 ) When we got to the emergency room, his blood pressure was really high and his pulse rate was around 140-150. They performed an EKG and he was in Afib. They treated him with IV drugs to attempt to bring his pulse rate and blood pressure down. While they helped, he did not revert to a normal sinus rhythm and he was admitted to the hospital.
The next morning, they did a transthoracic echocardiogram (standard echo through the chest). The results were indefinite enough that they ordered a TEE (transesophageal echocardiogram, you get to swallow the probe). They moved him down to the lab for the TEE and cardio-revert around 11 only to find out that an anesthesiologist wasn’t available until 2. So my daughter and I decided to go back to the hotel to grab lunch and pick up a few things and be back in time for the procedures. At which point her battery light went on.
We checked the connections and called a mechanic who is a friend of the family. He told us most likely the alternator was going so the battery wasn’t charging. So we couldn’t drive it, as we risked the car dying on the way back to the hospital. Panic ensued. I needed to get back to the hospital by 2:00, so I called the front desk to find a cab company and we experienced the Disney Difference! A very kind young woman immediately asked where we were and told us a car would be right over to drive us to the hospital. As she was driving us to the hospital, she told us to just call the resort when we were done and someone would be sent over to pick us up. I cannot begin to explain the relief. I actually teared up when I thanked her.
So we did make it back to the hospital before either of the procedures. When the echo showed no clots, they did the cardio-revert (shocked him with the paddles) to put him back into sinus rhythm. The first didn’t work, so they upped the voltage a bit and tried again and that worked. Once my husband was back to a normal heart rhythm , and back to his room, we called Disney and they drove us to the airport where I rented a car. Then my daughter and I dropped her car off at a mechanic’s she had found just a few minutes away from the hospital, and then went back to the hospital. They kept my husband overnight for observation. We picked him up the next morning. The car was done late that afternoon and we returned the rental car.
Disney continued to be incredibly kind, extending our reservation for a night (as well as leaving cookies and a gift basket in our room with a lovely note). We managed to enjoy the last couple days with time at the beach and pool. Then my daughter drove my husband and I to Virginia Beach to pick up the van. We all stayed there that night and the next morning, my husband and I headed home.
We had an appointment with BN scheduled for that day, but had to cancel since we had moved everything back one day and would not be home in time. Which stretched my break to three weeks.
We say my husband’s cardiologist here in town on Monday. He approved all the medication changes they made when he left the hospital. There is a small possibility that there may be minor heart damage, but the cardiologist thinks the low reading which indicated damage was only due to my husband being in afib. He’s doing a follow-up echo in a month to check. In the meantime, my husband is on a heart monitor for a month which actually transmits live, real-time data on his heart (Geek moment: Really cool and amazing bit of technology!). So far we’ve heard nothing, which means he’s staying in sinus rhythm. Good news, since the reason for monitoring was to see if he was going in and out of afib without realizing. His cardiologist saw this as just a bump in the road and pretty normal for someone with afib. I really trust my husband’s cardiologist, more than any other medical professional I’ve ever worked with, so it was really a relief to have him be ok with everything, especially all of the medication changes.
I don’t think I had realized how scared I’d been, because after I heard that, I kind of collapsed inward. I went to work the next morning and everything caught up to me, and I felt exhausted and overwhelmed and needy. I was sitting at my desk and couldn’t stop crying. Thankfully no one came in. It finally hit me that I was feeling needy, which brings up an enormous amount of shame, so I hide. But what I really needed was connection. So even though it felt scary, I reached out to some friends. The more people I was able to connect with, the better I felt. In the middle of feeling awful, I had read something that I found incredibly triggering and emailed it to BN to discuss in today’s session, but also asked for reassurance as the topic was physical touch (specifically hugging) in therapy and I feel like it’s been talked to death! In the meantime, at the encouragement of another friend, who agreed my reaction was a little intense :), I stayed with the feelings and connected what was going on for me. So I ended up having an awesome, connected session today with BN during which we were both able to see a lot of growth in me. I’m going to post about it at some point, as I made some very important connections and powerful realizations that I want to write about and share.
And very much on the upside, according to an agreement my husband and I had, another hospitalization would trigger immediate retirement. He was planning on retiring either late this fall or early next year, but we both agreed that we would feel more comfortable if he retired right away. So he has started the process and his retirement begins August 1st, when there will be much rejoicing in AG’s household. 😀 I am planning on continuing to work for a number of years; I have a much less demanding job and one that I really enjoy, while my husband has worked a very demanding job he often did not enjoy for 32 years to take care of our family. He truly deserves this! And he’s committed to taking over the lion’s share of the housework, so I’m not sure there’s a downside to this. 🙂 We’re both looking forward to having more time both to enjoy ourselves and do a better job with self-care.
So that should bring everyone up to date. I’ll be working on my backlog of comments next, followed, hopefully within a short time frame, by some new posts.