When considering having an ablation procedure, I found it quite dfficult to find other people's experiences with ablation. It wasn't until I found this site that I found some more relevant experiences that helped me decide and understand what I was in for.
I had visions of my leg being hacked off to get at veins, and nightmares about needles popping out of my chest! I worried mostly about post ablation recovery, and how quickly I could get back to normal life. Most of the material I read was about the operation, but not a lot about post ablation recovery. So, in the hope it is of use to others, I have jotted some notes below on my experience to date.
I am a 50 yr old male slim built cyclist and consider myself reasonably, but not athletically fit. I eat all the right things, and all of the wrong things. Drink too much (although have drunk very little post ablation). I'm an ex smoker, but do use an e cig occasionally. Heart rate at rest is usually around 60, and has not changed since the ablation procedure. Blood pressure usually 120/ 70, but was 140/ something on the day of the operation!
I have had paroxysmal AF since my early 20s, with initially short bouts of a few hours every month or so, to longer periods lasting sometimes more than 48 hours. I finally decided ablation was the right way to go when I had a bout the day before I was due to fly to the US from the Uk. Trying to pack whilst in AF was awful, luckily things calmed down so I flew, but continued again the following day for another 12 hours or so.
I had a cryoablation procedure with Dr Sahu at the Northern General in Sheffield. Luckily I was first up. Despite the nerves, and expecting the insertion of the catheters to be painful, I actually felt nothing, only a small scratch as they put the local anaesthetic in. Even that was extremely mild. I did feel discomfort in my chest when he put his rods up the vein, but they must have then given me more sedation as I do not remember anything until I woke up in the recovery area.
Apart from the oxygen mask, which was a surprise to me, I had no discomfort in recovery at all. Just an awareness that I needed to lie still to help the groin insertion point clot. I must have fallen asleep again as I don't remember being taken back to the ward. The insertion point was nothing, just a puncture wound maybe a little larger than a vasectomy wound in the right groin only. It stopped bleeding sufficiently for me to sit up in the afternoon, and shortly after that I was told to walk around a bit. I was discharged that evening at around 7pm. Hooray, I didn't want a night in the hospital.
I forced myself to rest the next day, but did get up to make dinner. For the first few days I could manage about 40 mins on my feet before I felt I needed to sit or lie down. I tried to keep my leg as straight a possible so as not to upset the wound.
On the first day back I coughed up a small amount of blood, but did not seek any medical attention, and the incident did not repeat itself. I put it down to the Heparin they'd used. I went back on my anti coagulation (apaxiban) the next morning.
I had quite a tight chest for the first four days, and was breathless climbing the stairs. But my resting heart rate was normal for me at 60.
The main issue for me was that I was finding it difficult to sleep at night, maybe because I was sleeping in the afternoons and not really taking much exercise. 10 days after my op I went for my first bike ride- 40 mins slow pace on an old mountain bike with plenty of easy gears. I kept my heart rate generally around 100 and 'pushed' it up to only 120 on a gradual incline. A great achievement for me as I am usually a 'power on' or 'power off' sort of person. Even my wife overtook me on the hill, saying she couldn't ride so slowly!
I went back to work on day 11, but had enough by lunch and left around 3. I did not return to work the rest of that week as I was getting visual migraines, and a dull nagging headache. I couldn't read a computer screen properly for any length of time, whatever glasses I tried.
By day 14, apart from the reading and headache issues, I felt more or less back to normal. I kept off exercise as I didn't want to start a pounding headache, and started tiling the bathroom floor. I did have to take regular breaks, and did not push things too much. Last Sunday (day 18) I felt fully back to normal, but am still getting tired quickly.
I went back to work yesterday for the morning, but the visual problems reoccurred, so I left and slept in the afternoon. I am lucky enough to run my own business, so things are more flexible for me. Today I am working from home, and likely will do mornings for the next week.
I have to admit to feeling a bit nesh about not working, and believe that if I had to, I could endure a full shift, but with all the ladies at work telling me to rest up, what am I to do? I'll take the easy life.
I think my eyesight has decided to take a turn for the worse, so am booked in for an eye test. As soon as I get this sorted, I feel I will be 100%, and plan to be back on the bike regularly at the end of this week.
As far as AF goes, I have not yet had a bout of AF, but am getting ectopic beats at times, with periods of higher frequency. I guess time will tell whether this, my first ablation, has worked or not.
Hope you found this helpful.