Atrial Fibrillation

In 1996 or 1997 I woke up one morning at a really early hour. It was about 4:30am. I could tell straight away that something was definitely not right. My heart was not beating correctly. In fact, it didn’t seem to be beating at all. It was obviously still pumping blood and there wasn’t any pain to speak of, although I was having a little trouble getting air. We headed for the hospital.

I was near 5:30am when we got to the emergency room. I was able to walk in under my own power. There was only one nurse on duty and one ER doctor. When I arrived, the nurse asked me what was wrong. I said,”Something’s wrong with my heart.” Since it seemed clearly I was not having a heart attack, we began our long hike to the last cubicle, even though there was no one else in the ER.

The nurse hooked me up to the monitor, took one look, said “Oh shit!” and ran back down the ER calling out for the doctor. While he was getting the doctor, I turned to my spouse and said that I had no regrets and that my love was as strong as ever. The doctor arrived and studied the monitor for several seconds — enough time to give us time to work up even more anxiety. Finally, after what seemed to be a long time, the doctor spoke saying, “It’s atrial fibrillation.”

Over the next few years the episodes grew in duration and in intensity. I was always told the condition was benign, that the worst thing were the secondary complications — yeah, like stroke.

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