The Heart of the Matter

Dymphna is in the midst of another exciting medical adventure.

Last night (which seems like earlier today, due to my almost complete lack of sleep) Dymphna’s respiratory symptoms became acute. They initially seemed to be those of regular asthma (which she has), but they were not alleviated by the usual palliative measures, such as using the nebulizer with albuterol. She simply could not get her breath, and could barely speak, even in a whisper. Her “air hunger” was insatiable.

So off we went to the emergency room in the wee hours of this morning. To make a long story short, it turned out that she had the peculiar kind of arrhythmia brought on by the failure of nerve signals between different chambers of the heart. The recommended treatment is the surgical implantation of a pacemaker, which was carried out later in the morning.

Dymphna has developmental PTSD, which means that even a relatively minor surgery can be very traumatic, and may take a long time to recover from. However, this time she’s doing pretty well. Although she was groggy and miserable when I got back to the hospital late this afternoon, within an hour or so she was sitting up and talking animatedly — and in her normal voice! The pacemaker has really made a difference.

Dymphna is what is commonly known in the medical trade as a Difficult Patient. Not because she is contentious or demanding, but because she has informed herself extensively on medical issues, so that the “I’m the doctor and I know best” attitude has no effect on her. When the doctor is wrong, or overly officious, or doesn’t listen properly, she lets him (or her) know it. On the other hand, when the doctor is willing to listen to her, they often have interesting friendly discussions, which can become quite technical and over my head.

She reserves her most withering scorn for surgeons. You’ll probably hear from her on that topic as soon as she has recovered enough to sit at a keyboard again…

The next couple of days will be busy, and the Gates of Vienna bus will only be firing on two or three cylinders for a while. I’ll try to keep up with the news feed, though, and with luck some semblance of normal programming will return on Wednesday or Thursday.

Thank you for all your kind comments and emails. I’ll make sure Dymphna sees them.

29 thoughts on “The Heart of the Matter

  1. This is very good news; I was very anxious when you posted that she needed surgery. I know that all her friends here on Gates of Vienna join me in wishing her a very speedy and complete recovery ( at least from this affliction and maybe from some of the others too). I wish her all the best.

  2. I am so pleased you are recovering and somewhat better.
    You are both in my thought and prayers.


  3. Thank you Baron, I was concerned, now I am not. My wife Sandy and Dymphna share something in common – a hunger for what goes on in the medical world. And just like you, what Sandy finds to discuss with the attending medico’s when needed, is generally over my head also. Your ‘patient’ will have to be patient for a change, but please tell her to not to let the all too fallible doctors off the hook too easily. I’m sure she will cope.

    My very best wishes to you both.

  4. Please pass along my best wishes to Dymphna, it sounds like you did the right thing heading to the nearest casualty straight away, & the surgery went well.

  5. Sounds positive; with luck she’ll feel stronger than before once recovered. Thinking of you both.

  6. Sorry to hear that and best wishes to Dymphna for speedy recovery. I know well the breathing difficulties caused by arrhythmia since it happened to me a year ago. Frightening.I spent a week in hospital hooked up to a monitor.
    My treatment is drugs for atrial fibrillation and they seem to work pretty well. No mention of a pacemaker but they did consider cardioversion (stopping and shocking the heart – a reboot if you like) and dismissed it (only about 60% effective anyway). I certainly feel fitter and can again do things I had stopped – thinking that age was the cause of my slowdown. I’m sure a pacemaker is even more effective. The hospital chaplain, who is fitted with one, certainly thinks so. The worst part is that I am banned from caffeine and alcohol but, to be honest, haven’t really missed them. A nice cold pint on a hot summer day might have been nice or a glass of cabernet but I’ve resisted.

  7. My Father – 90 this October – had a pacemeaker fitted recently. He’s now the picture of health. Good luck Dymphna – I’m sure you’ll soon be back in the garden.

  8. I sincerely hope and pray that Dymphna is now recovered and feeling better. Best to both of you. . .

  9. Happy to hear that our indefatigable Dymphna has literally caught her second wind! I sense the pacemaker will help with other issues known and unknown as well. My wife and I continue to uphold both of you with our thoughts and prayers.

  10. I’ve also had an older relative who went from fainting, falling down, generally feeling awful and suffering an increase in “old age” memory loss etc to being a much healthier alert fellow who felt pretty good most of the time – due to getting a pacemaker. They’re a wonderful family of devices. Best of luck with yours Dymphna and keep feeling better!

  11. I want to express what everyone above has said.Many times over, we do worry about you two. We will know better when Dymphna comes back to us in her usual sweet but slightly bad tempered form. We are so looking forward to it. Love to you both!

  12. Here I offer the Hebrew prayer of Mi Sheberakh, asking God to assure a full and speedy recovery to your beloved Dymphna.

  13. A bit late, because I have just read this piece… All the best to Dymphna. Get well soon and back to the keyboard. Your friends all over the world are rooting for you. So glad that you got your pace maker inserted within hours of entering the hospital. Thank goodness for US medical care.

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