A year ago yesterday, I had a 7-month-old, a 4-year-old, a 7-year-old and a 9-year-old. We were having a nice morning, despite the fact that I'd stayed up late sewing and eating chocolate the night before, and drinking some sort of awesome chai tea latte. We got up and I had my usual cup of coffee. I made some butternut squash for Canaan. Someone knocked on the door and as I turned to answer it, Canaan grabbed a huge bottle of bleach and it fell off the counter onto the kitchen floor. The lid broke and the bleach spilled everywhere. After tending to the visitor, I cleaned up the bleach mess.
Around 12:00 I went upstairs to put Canaan down for a nap. I laid him on my bed and got in next to him. I latched him on to nurse. I closed my eyes.
Then things went wrong. Very wrong.
My heart flopped. It just beat one time very, very hard. Harder than I'd ever felt my heart beat. And then it raced. And thumped. My heart was doing flips inside my chest. I bolted halfway upright, looking out my bedroom window and trying to get a grasp on what was wrong.
Then I started to feel dizzy, like I might pass out. Like - oh my gosh, like I really might pass out. And I was home alone with all those kids.
"Malachi - bring me the phone!"
"I DON'T CARE, JUST BRING ME A PHONE THAT WORKS!"
I called 911. I told him that my heart was beating way too hard and fast, and that I was home alone with four children. I was getting weak and he couldn't hear me very well. He said, "You're home alone with a four-year-old?" I said, "No, I'm home alone with four children." He said, "don't worry, we'll make sure they're taken care of."
Panic! What would they DO with my children? Where would they go? They'd be afraid!
Hello - we have in-laws across the street!! I sent Malachi to get Grandma and Grandpa. They came right over and got the kids, and I somehow got myself down the stairs and onto the couch. My sister-in-law came over and sat with me while we waited for the ambulance to come. I felt so weak, so tired and surprisingly more embarrassed than afraid.
The fire department arrived and asked me tons of questions and put an oxygen mask on. So embarrassing, all these people in my living room and here I am slouched on the couch in pajamas at noon. Alif walked in and looked pale and nervous. The ambulance arrived and they loaded me up.
My heart rate fluctuated between 180 and 220 on the way to the hospital. The paramedic put an IV in and said he was going to give me a medication that would stop my heart for a split-second, and that it might hurt. Nervous! It didn't hurt. No wonder - when we arrived at the hospital he told the doctor that he gave me Digoxin and it "didn't even touch it".
The rest is a blur of medications, staring at my vitals and waiting for my heart to convert, finding out that it was not the v-tach they'd suspected but instead it was a-fib which usually happens to very old people or extreme athletes (I don't qualify in either case). I converted to normal sinus rhythm within a few hours. I stayed overnight and was very glad to do so, as I was afraid to be home alone with my babies again. I called my midwife to find out if I could still nurse with all the meds in my system. They all checked out fine, so I pumped and when Alif brought the kids to see me, nursed Canaan. It was the longest 36 or so hours of my life.
Those few hours wreaked some pretty serious havoc in my life. I was so afraid. I couldn't imagine ever exercising again, for fear that my heart would go crazy. I started having panic attacks, mostly at night. I couldn't imagine driving anywhere ever again. I ended up in the hospital again - TWICE - within the week, thinking I was in a-fib again, but I was "just" having panic attacks. They gave me a tranquilizer.
I felt so . . . not in control. What an awful feeling, to go from feeling like a normal, productive woman to someone who can't do the simplest daily task without feeling afraid.
My Mom paid for me to go to counseling. My counselor worked with me for a few months and really understood what I was going through. Several of her family members have had a-fib and she herself has suffered (!!) from panic attacks. She really helped.
When I look at my life today, I am so thankful that my a-fib was a one-time occurrence. I'm thankful for the ability to live each day and not be afraid every time I lie down or get into the car. I'm prayerful that it never happens again. I'm completely caffeine-free, I try to get enough sleep and I try not to use bleach.
I think the thing that was so disturbing about it was that it was so random. I've never had a problem with my heart at all, and all of a sudden it went completely berserk. It was such a strange thing to be fine one minute and very not-fine the next. I can say one thing for sure, though. There is nothing that drives us deep into the Father's arms like a health scare. For that, I'm thankful.