AF Information & Advice For Patients

Pacemaker and AV-Node Ablation gave me back my life!

I am writing this in the hope that it may help others who are faced with the decision I took in February (2018).

25 years ago, at the age of 44 I had a mitral valve replacement. The decision was made to use a plastic and metal one which, unlike a pig’s valve, would hopefully last and not have to be replaced. Fast forward to now, the valve is still working beautifully, however in the interim time I developed, which is very common with valve replacements, atrial fibrillation. The past five years have not been easy, AF affected me profoundly. I was under an eminent electrophysiologist who treated me with a variety of drugs all of which compounded the issue with side effects that were ghastly. Three ablations followed with varying success. Finally, we got to the stage where no further ablations would have any effect and drug treatment was out of the question. The quality of my life was pretty much nil, a very depressing thought that ’this was it’ for the remainder of my days.

And so, the conversation got around to the fitting of a pacemaker with an AV node ablation. Well, if you are reading this because this is the stage you have reached, you can well imagine my thoughts - every single thing and emotion you are feeling, not one, I can assure you, will not have crossed my mind and been dwelt upon in the small hours of the morning, in that you are not alone!

In February of this year, I decided to have it done. The pacemaker was fitted first, followed six weeks later by the AV node ablation. Yes, you will go through mentally wobbly bits, and yes in my case the pacemaker needed tweaking by the clever technicians but, and this is the joyous part, I feel marvellous, I have my life back again! The only medication I take is warfarin, which has been part of my life since the valve was replaced, I rarely give my pacemaker a thought, it is part of me as are my fingers and toes and how fortunate I am to have it, The quality of my life is back, my lifestyle is what it was, I travel quite a bit, yoga and pilates are back on the menu (never the gym - I loathe it!) and most of all, my confidence in myself. I would say to anyone who has been offered a pacemaker, assuming the quality of life was pretty much nil, to take it. The decision was made quite simply for me - imagine having been offered the option of a pacemaker and AV node ablation that you were then told, 'oh no, I am sorry you are not a suitable candidate and you cannot have it done’. You would be looking at a very bleak future.

So, in conclusion, take courage and push through and perhaps one day you can write about your journey and help another to make a decision which will give them back those joyous days that were a distant memory.

Anna, London

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