It's nice to have found this forum. I'll start with just a few words about me.
I'm a 50 year old male in Canberra, Australia. I was first diagnosed with paroxysmal AF and Atrial Flutter in 1995 (age 31). Prior to then, I had no idea that I had any heart issue, and it was just picked up in a routine doctor's examination. I was sent to a cardiologist, who put me on Flecainide, 100mg twice per day and maybe that had some therapeutic effect at first. The drug had no side effects on me. I was young, fit and silly though and I continued to lead a life of smoking and drinking balanced with long hikes in the wilderness. I continued to have episodes of AF, but I was very sanguine about them. I even went on a trip to South America in 2000, partying and drinking and regularly experiencing AF. I kept a diary, recording my experiences, but also noting the severity of my AF, and it is the latter that now makes for the more significant reading.
The Flecainide became less effective and In 2001, I was referred for my first RF ablation (at Westmead in Sydney). That was for flutter. The EPs then had two goes at ablating the AF in 2002. They used the four-individual ring method of ablating the PVs. I continued on the Flecainide and 100mg of Aspirin. Those operations were really successful. I had some ectopic beats and rare AF for ten years. During that time I got married, had a child, and established a career. I also gave up smoking and drinking. I became serious about exercise and regularly hiked, went to the gym and swam.
Unfortunately by 2012, I was starting to have a lot of ectopics and even some episodes of AF. It was time for a re-do. Fortunately the lovely man who had worked on me in 2002 was still practicing and agreed to go back in to do a single ring PV fourth ablation. The 2012 was also successful, though perhaps less so than the 2001/02 operations. I did not continue on the Flecainide though. Nor the aspirin. I had one four hour bout of AF/flutter three months after the ablation, for which I was briefly prescribed Sotalol. I was then well with nothing except ectopics, for two years. I did a lot of exercise, and took up competitive masters swimming.
By 2014, I was starting to get a lot of ectopics and they were making me feel uncomfortable. I also started to get brief episodes of AF when sprinting in the pool (and only then). My very kind EP agreed to go in again - for the fifth ablation. That was one month ago. I am now on no drugs except for aspirin. I have had a few AF events since, and quite a few ectopics. I've had a short period of bigeminy. But this craziness does seem to be subsiding, touch wood. I am super heart aware these days and know that I am in NSR 99% of the time. Had I not had all that work, I am sure that I would be in persistent AF by now. I am swimming and walking again - but I feel a bit chastened by my latest ablation. I don't think that I should be sprinting and pretending I am a 20yo with NSR any more. I did a completion yesterday and swam some fast freestyle and backstroke, but my friend tells me I should cruise in the pool. I have read some posts here that one shouldn't push oneself with exercise, and I think there is wisdom in that.
I am sure that my old AF companion will reassert himself. The EP tells me that the ablation is difficult for me because I have thick heart muscles and it is hard to burn all the way through, and easy for the naughty tissue (my words) to reconnect. My goal is to reach 60 without a pacemaker if I can. This may mean another ablation. It may mean anti-arrthymic drugs. I don't care. I will bash on. I will see my son reach 18. I will pay off my mortgage. I will reach retirement age and give my employer value for money. I will climb a few more hills. I will avoid a stroke. Thanks for reading if you got this far.