On January 25, 2013 my daughter was reborn as a healthy, no heart problem present adult.
She has suffered from PSVT Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia since birth in December 1985. No one had any idea she had this till she was born and had heart rates well over 220 bpm. Not healthy for a kid. She spent the first 10 days of her life in the Neonatal ICU at Kansas University Medical Center. Her doctor there was Kenneth Goertz, MD and he still practices at the KUMed NICU.
After that, it was 6 months on a monitor 24/7 plus two different medications every day. The monitor went away when she started to crawl, but the medications stayed until she was at least two. Multiple PVST episodes, ER trips and panicked parent moments happened in that time. The doctors believed she had outgrown the issue while she was in preschool, so we never thought another moment about it until she reached middle school. Around that time she started reporting episodes of rapid heart beat and chest pain. Of course, by the time we got to the ER, nothing was found on the EKGs.
Healthy Heart Function
The episodes continued occasionally through college but as my daughter reached her 20’s they really increased in frequency. She started feeling faint when they occurred, including while driving. Again, not a great scenario. In the past year they had really peaked. She spent a month hooked up to a monitor and it captured at least 15 distinct PVST episodes during that time. She consulted with a cardiologist who offered her 2 options – cardiac catheterization and ablation of the offending place inside her heart, or be on medication forever. The daughter chose the procedure.
It occurred on 1/25/2013 at Overland Park Regional Medical Center, with Dr. Peter Park as the officiating electro-cardiologist. We were all nervous and in some level of tears while waiting for them to take the daughter into the surgery suite. As the doctor and his assistant were explaining the procedure and showing us the catheterization leads that would be used, I came as close as I ever have to fainting. I got hot and couldn’t breathe and thought I was going to faint even after I sat down and loosened my warm clothes.
Once it was time for her to go to surgery, I really lost it. Sobbing uncontrollably and hating myself for doing so – shouldn’t I be strong and stoic, to give her a good start to this procedure? I failed in that but succeeded in conveying how much I love her and wanted this issue to finally be fixed. 27 years of living with this over her head, always wondering if it will cause her to suddenly drop dead or wreck in traffic or just be an ongoing pest.
How a heart with PSVT works, including the accessory channel issue
About 3 hours later – and approximate hourly updates from inside the catheterization suite – we received word she was done and in recovery. About 1/2 hour after THAT, the daughter was ready to be moved to her room. The hospital was keeping her overnight for observation.We were told the offending bit of heart was a “concealed accessory channel” and we all had to Google that. It is a side channel of heart muscle that transmits the electrical rhythm of the heart in ways and to places it should not go, causing the weird heart rhythms. It is called Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome. The ablation procedure had basically cauterized that bit of heart, closing that channel and creating scar tissue over it instead. Now her electrical signals will only go where and when they are supposed to go.
Daughter was on her gurney in the hall with her nurse, sobbing with relief that 1) the procedure was over and she lived, and 2) she was told she was cured. She couldn’t process the fact that this thing was gone, she had never EVER lived a day in her life without it and it was weird. We got her to her room, there were more tears of relief all around. Once I knew she was settled for the day I left her in the more-than-capable care of her husband and her father. All the relatives had been notified of the successful outcome. 27 years of carrying the burden of having given the child this burden were gone. She had been healed.
More importantly, she has another 75 years or more of health and happiness as almost a new person. I thank every deity around us and in every form for watching over her all these years and for giving her the best father and the best husband a girl can have, and for bringing excellent doctors and top technology into her life. She had a great team in Dr. Park, his assistant and the nurses who cared for her.
May her new life be blessed with health, happiness and peace.
Healthy Heart Forever