Doctors & Hospitals

Attack of Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial Fibrillation Image of Heart and EKGs--Top is Normal Rhythm and Bottom is A-Fib Rhythm

Just when you think you’re going to have a quiet weekend taking care of your Lupus body, mind, and spirit, your body has other ideas. This time, my heart decided it wanted all the attention—so much so that it required a two-day hospital stay that I’m still recovering from…. **



One word to describe my Lupus body today:  Recovering

Which habits and rituals did I practice to soothe my Lupus body?

  • Slept well
  • Breathed fresh air
  • Protected delicate skin
  • Smiled and laughed

More details about my physical symptoms:
Two days after my release from the hospital, I still feel like I took a boxer’s blow to the chest. I’m still recovering from a sudden, acute attack of atrial fibrillation (also known as a-fib) of my heart. It happened on Saturday evening right after a massage. After the massage was done, I got up, got dressed, and took a drink of cold water. With only one swallow, rapid-fire palpitations started and they just wouldn’t stop. Hubby took me to the ER, where they told me that I was in atrial fibrillation, with a pulse rate of 180 beats per minute, and electrolytes were out of balance. I was admitted to the hospital and given potassium and magnesium as well as one other drug that didn’t work (sorry I can’t remember the name). Afterwards, they gave me an IV with the drug amiodarone, which according to the National Library of Medicine “treats life-threatening heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias) in patients who have already taken other antiarrhythmic medicines.” Thankfully, it worked and my heart “converted” back to a normal rhythm after about 12 hours on that drug. I’m still very bruised from the Lovenox (blood thinner) shots, the two separate IVs, and multiple visits from the phlebotomists drawing blood at my bedside. They tested for indications of blood clots and heart damage. Thankfully, the tests came back negative. No doubt because I’m already on life-long Coumadin (another blood thinner taken by mouth), which gave me a bit of built-in protection. The jury’s out about what caused this episode. My cardiologist believes it was a vagal reaction to the massage. This is normally very unlikely, but based on a Health Day article on U.S. News and World Report Health’s website, people with Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis are 60 percent more likely to experience atrial fibrillation. The article, entitled “Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis May Raise Risk of Abnormal Heart Rhythm,” cites a study at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in 2011.



One word to describe my Lupus mind today: Frightened

Which habits and rituals did I practice to strengthen my Lupus mind?

  • Managed stress response
  • Focused on the positive
  • Connected with doctor
  • Asked for and accepted help

More details and thoughts about how I’m feeling emotionally today:
While I was a cool cucumber during the emergency (mainly because it was counter-productive not to be), I am feeling extremely shaken and frightened by the whole experience now that it’s over. It’s hard to believe that I’ve gone through yet another hospital admission, lying in bed, wondering if I did something wrong to make this happen; wondering if Lupus decided to go for my heart this time; and wondering if it’s going to happen again. Mentally processing this latest episode will take some time…. *sigh*



One word to describe my spirit today: Thankful

Which habits and rituals did I practice to nurture my Lupus spirit?

  • Enjoyed sacred space
  • Meditated, prayed, visualized
  • Embraced uncertainty

Thoughts about my spiritual connection and spiritual lessons learned today:
Despite the heart drama of this weekend, my doctor cleared me to travel for Thanksgiving. So, we drove to Mom’s house in Las Vegas as planned for Thanksgiving. I’m so very grateful that I was released from the hospital and allowed to make this trip. As I write this, I’m lying in bed in Mom’s guest room, which is filled with my childhood art and family photos—a sacred space for sure. The calm of Mom’s house is just what the doctor ordered after my most recent medical ordeal. Happy Thanksgiving!



Today my meals were:

  • Breakfast: Paleo banana muffin, Gala apple
  • Lunch: Egg and sausage sandwich on gluten-free bread
  • Dinner: Roasted chicken breast, asparagus, fingerling potatoes
  • Snacks: Gluten-free pretzels
  • Water: 40 ounces of water (This is far below my target, but I’m fearful to overdo it and mess up my electrolytes after the a-fib episode. I’ll add electrolytes and work my way back up to 64 ounces.)



At least one thing that I’m grateful for today:

  • For being at Mom’s house for Thanksgiving
  • For getting better after my a-fib episode


**(This post is based on the format of the Lupus Diary that I developed for keeping track of how Lupus affects my body, mind, and spirit, I check-in here once a week to let you know about the more interesting days of my Lupus journey. To learn more about the Lupus Diary, how I developed it, and why I use it, click here.)

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