I had my first ablation on Monday in Leeds and I thought I'd pass on a few thoughts for the benefit of those embarking on this route.
I did think long and hard about having an ablation. Since diagnosis in 2009 I thought I could simply put up with the occasional fatigue and discomfort whenever AF episodes came along. However, my mind was finally made up at the beginning of this year. I went into what I thought was persistent AF. It lasted 28 days and an electro-cardioversion brought me back into sinus at the first shot. Normality lasted about three weeks before going back into a number of AF episodes again. Not persistent though - they would end spontaneously after a few hours or a couple of days. However it was obvious to me that persistent AF probably wasn't far away and frankly, those 28 days in continuous AF, with all its attendant maladies, made me realise the time had come for what is the only 'offer on the table' at the moment for anything vaguely resembling a 'cure' for we AFibbers.
I found the whole process under local anaesthetic and sedation absolutely fine. A little pain at the groin at the start of the procedure but I told them so and they effectively increased the 'juice'. Thereafter absolutely pain free and I'm not really certain there was much sedation. I certainly don't remember being as sleepy as I was with an endoscopy sedation a few years ago and I was able to follow what was going on throughout the procedure. Unfortunately the small x-ray 'box' positioned over my chest tended to block out most of the view of the screens which is a shame. I'm sure it wouldn't be too costly to install a monitor in place of a ceiling tile directly above the patient's head - just a thought for any lurking hospital managers!
Ablation was completed at around 5pm having taken about two and a half hours. The doctor seemed very happy with the way it went and I was taken back to the ward. After a good night's sleep I woke early next morning about 5.30. No pain in the groin, which I was expecting, and none anywhere else. I walked to the loo with no problems at all. About 8am I began to experience some slight chest pain when breathing in. This, I was later told, was completely normal and can be expected to last for about two or three days. Paracetamol is the standard remedy if it becomes necessary. One of the doctors suggested that it was in fact a good indication that the ablated areas had been done well. If there's no pain they may have been done too lightly, he said. Anyway, it's now Day 2 and the discomfort in the chest has nearly gone. And I feel great! I had one of those vague tummy stirrings after breakfast this morning that used to indicate AF was imminent. Only today, it never came. It's wonderful......
Time will tell how successful it will turn out to be in the longer term but I have no regrets whatsoever about going ahead with it. I'd come to realise there really is no alternative at the moment. Highly recommended!
To Dr Lee Graham and the team at The LGI......one very grateful fellow here.