AF Information & Advice For Patients
Gillian's Story Part Two or "My Precious Heart"
A year ago, I wrote about a roller coaster ride along my journey from diagnosis of AF to a successful AF ablation in January 2017. I had become very debilitated with frequent episodes of fast AF that required attendances at A&E. I lost a lot of confidence and lived in fear of when the next episode was going to strike. The recovery process has taken time, much of the first year was spent regaining my confidence and in the second year focusing on my physical fitness as well.
Two years ago, turning sixty with AF and a Titanium knee joint, I never imagined that I would come to own a road bike and be taking part in a Triathlon! Last summer was perfect weather to start training the for the Super Sprint section of the Brighton and Hove Triathlon. I met regularly with two friends for bike rides, walks (running not recommended with replaced knee joints) and swims in the sea. I discovered that training could be sociable, fun and we all enjoyed the feel-good factor to be had from regular exercise and improved fitness. We are also now well acquainted with all the seafront cafes between Rottingdean and Worthing!
My still dented confidence didn’t allow me to believe that I would actually be fit to take part on the 16th of September. The day was bright and sunny with a stiff breeze that made the sea very choppy. We were assured it was safe and there was no getting out of the 400m swim, the adrenalin kicked in and the 5k bike ride and 2.5k run/walk to complete the event were actually enjoyable.
The other organisation along with British Triathlon( www.britishtriathlon.org ) that was very valuable in enabling me to regain fitness has been Parkrun (www.parkrun.org.uk ). Parkrun is a free event that take place on Saturday mornings in parks across the UK. You don’t have to run, many of us for varying reasons can only walk the 5K course. I have met lots of really interesting people at the back of the pack!
I have had one episode of sinus tachycardia since my ablation, which with hindsight was possibly related to having a viral illness and exacerbated by my becoming acutely anxious, fearful that the AF had returned. I had my heart monitored for a week with a small portable monitor, which reassuringly showed nothing untoward. My Cardiologist reminded me that when we have a viral illness or become very stressed we do become vulnerable to the possibility of AF recurring.
I continue to be careful with what I eat, still avoiding known AF triggers such as cheese, gamey meat, aged beef and very processed or marinated foods. I drink very little alcohol and keep well hydrated drinking plenty of water. Lapses do sometimes raise my heart rate and I take this as a warning sign. I try to make sure I get plenty of sleep and rest if I am unwell with a virus. I have the ‘flu vaccination every September, which is given at our local pharmacy. I continue to take the anticoagulant Apixaban, which I will take for life to reduce the risk of AF related stroke.
I have now been discharged from the cardiology service, but know that our local Arrhythmia Nurses remain just a phone call away if I have any worries.
I am becoming a more active supporter of the AF Association, doing my bit to raise awareness of the Detect, Protect and Correct campaign, to reduce the incidence of AF strokes, following the launch of The White Paper in November 2018 on inequalities and unmet needs in the detection and use of therapies to prevent AF related stroke in Europe.
I have regained a good quality of life, but I have had to work to get there and will continue to respect and take care of my precious heart.