Thankful for No Atrial Flutter this year, and Many Other Things

Last year on the morning before Thanksgiving I sat alone in my hospital bed, praying that I would be discharged to go home for the holiday.  It was the end of a nightmare week because of an episode of Atrial Flutter that forced me to return to the hospital after my open heart surgery.  I wasn't sure if I was going to be let go in time for the Holiday. 

It all started when I got up one morning after being home for a few days and my knees buckled and felt weak.  My heart raced to 150 beats per minute as if I were jogging, and I felt short of breath and had knots in my stomach.  There was nothing I could do to control it.  It was a horrible feeling and it stayed that way for over 24 hours after that.  Neither I nor the doctors were able to get my heartbeat under control, and for a moment my condition seemed helpless.  The tests I was subjected to and everything that took place was worse than the open heart surgery itself.  I lie there half-awake on twilight sedation curled up in fetal position as they fed a probe down my esophagus, asking me to swallow it an inch at a time.  They couldn't do the test with me completely asleep because I had to be able to swallow the probe.  If everything looked good and there were no clots in my heart I got to be rewarded with a shock of electricity to reset it.  It's something no one should ever have to experience.  I am very thankful to have NO atrial flutter this year; and also for everyone, and everything that has helped me achieve a quick and strong recovery.  If it weren't for my wife at my side and the unbelievably "human" doctors and nurses at Columbia-Presbyterian hospital, I would have fallen apart last year. 

I remember coming out of sedation after they did the Tee-Echo and Cardioverted me (shocked me with electricity to reset my heart).  I hugged the doctors, and nurses in a crying, loopy state; telling them I loved them and how great they were.  The days after that were depressing because they told me that I had developed some pericardial effusion (fluid around the heart).  I was convinced that I wasn't going to make it home for Thanksgiving.  I spent about a week in the hospital on that second trip, and I remember my surgeon Dr. Stewart coming to my room and surprising me very early in the morning on the day before Thanksgiving.  "Get your things together, you're going home!", he said.  --  I was overwhelmed.

Tomorrow I'll be having a feast, and celebrating Thanksgiving with my family.  I'm grateful for all of the progress I've made in a year including the blessing of being in condition to complete the NYC Marathon.  Being thankful is more than a holiday, it's a daily affair.


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