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Alexis’ Story – Ventricular Fibrillation and Atrial fibrillation

My heart story started at 7 months when I lost my Dad from a cardiac arrest- he was 33 years old. My story continued when I was pregnant with my 2 nd child and I was suffering from extremely high heart rates and the feeling that something was not right. Having a few tests nothing was found and my life continued as normal. However in December 2014 I really was suffering from small black outs and racing heart that I was really scared that something was not right and I was back at the doctors and more tests were performed. It was then that it was found that my heart was not right and I was told that I should have an ablation to help control everything. However my private health was not at a high enough level that I could have the procedure in a private hospital and the specialist cardiologist also worked out of Adelaide (I was on the Central Coast of NSW) so he offered if I went to Adelaide he would do the procedure in the public system. So my husband and I booked flights and hotels, got babysitters for the kids and off we went to have the procedure.

However 1 month later I suffered a cardiac arrest while at work- I was so lucky to be part of the 9% of people that are successfully resuscitated and was rushed to hospital to spend the next few days in ICU. Upon waking it was decided that I would have an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) implanted. A few days after leaving hospital I went on my first outing to the local café with my Mum and Sister however once inside the café I suddenly didn’t feel well and seconds later my ICD shocked. However my ICD did not shock me once, in the time of the ambulance being called and arrived at hospital my ICD had gone off 50 times (yes 50). A technician was called to read the data off my ICD and it was concluded that Atrial Fibrillation (AF) was the cause of my 50 shocks and that my device had shocked me inappropriately as when you heart is beating fast enough the device can get tricked between VT and AF. The device parameters were changed, I was monitored for a few days and my medication changed around and I was allowed to go home.

Nine months later I was starting to get my confidence after my 50 shocks and I was trying to live my life as normally as I could. I was out helping my husband in the garden by mowing the lawn when again I received a shock from my ICD again AF was the cause of the shock and I was monitored and allowed to leave hospital. Nine months after my mowing the lawn incident I was at work when I started to feel unwell and received another shock from my ICD. On arrival at hospital I received another shock and when the technician looked at the data it was AF that again cause these shocks. It was decided then that they needed to do something to stop this AF to stop getting the shocks (as they are more horrible than you can imagine). I was told to have a pulmonary vein isolation ablation procedure. I had increased my private health cover since my Adelaide trip however my preference was to go public to help save some money however we were advised that I would have to wait at least 6 months and they didn’t think I could wait this long to have the procedure. Seven months after having the procedure I have been feeling better and slowly feeling confident again- there is always the possibly that they may have to repeat the procedure again and I would do it again if it means I can live my life as normal as possible.

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