How I feel post ablation

Had my 1st ablation on Wednesday, this week. After initial feelings of anticipation, the staff on the ward were amazing at putting you at ease. Very thorough in explaining the whole procedure step by step. They were so professional and made you feel so comfortable, they answered any questions, even the silly ones. So well done staff on ward L14 at LGI!!!

A local anaesthetic an sedatives were given during the ablation, so I was fully aware what was happening. This was interesting at times listening to the team talking and watching the screens.

But was also at times quite painful in the heart area. I suppose this was when the drugs were wearing off, but just a little shout out and they 'top you up'.

Don't let me put anyone off by this but it is quite uncomfortable now and then but never at the point of being unbearable.

The whole procedure took nearly 4 hours. If some said you had to lie still for that length if time youd say 'no way', but it wasn't like that it was weird, laying still was easy, didn't feel the need to move. Strange really.

Procedure successful back in NSR. Hooray!

Wow brilliant because of the length of time being in af. The surgeon said he only gave me a 50/50 chance of the ablation working. Speaking to him afterwards he was surprised it had worked. Finger crossed now it continues to work.

Anyway back on the ward and sedative still working, couldn't keep my eyes open for hours, so visitors not really necessary.

Day later back at home and after having a sleepless night in hospital. I had horrendous chest pain when laying down. Nothing when sat up leaning forward, the Dr said it was pericarditis, which he explained that my hearts been bashed about and so was inflamed, and this will settle after a couple of days with simple painkillers to ease pain. Was worried, but he explained that I will get aches, twinges etc for a while. So mind put at rest.

Day 2 had a great nights sleep, hardly any pain, still in NSR, feeling much better today. Back for follow up in 12 weeks time.

I hope this is many more days, months dare I say years of 'normality' to come!!!

To anyone contemplating having ablation. My advice is, definitely have it done, yes you have a little pain and discomfort, but it's well worth it. Would I do it again. Absolutely!

Sorry for such a long post, but I hope it might help those who can't decide what to do.

I say.... Go for it!

49 Replies

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  • Well done and thanks for the feedback. Just one small thing. Please don't let the EP hear you call him a surgeon as he isn't and might be offended. Far more clever than that!

    Do remember that it takes at least three months for full healing, maybe longer so don't be upset if you have a few set backs over the next few weeks. All perfectly normal I assure you. Now make sure that you stay resting for at least the next week and not much for the one after.

    Stay well.

    Bob

  • I'm glad you shared your experience. You must feel so hopeful now for a better quality of life and for some improved times ahead. I'm scared silly of the risks of ablation, and at the moment no one can convince me differently. I only wish I had the courage to overcome the fear of the risks. Hopefully your recovery will be smooth.

  • Hi Julie, don't be scared, I'm a 48 year old lady and was prepared to try anything to stop the debilitating symptoms of AF. (I have persistent AF).

    Of course ablation is a scary prospect, but please don't dismiss it because of your fears. I am only day 2 post ablation, and feel so much better. My husband even said I'm looking well, (which he said I haven't for a while), made me feel so much better.

    Don't be afraid, please feel free to ask me anything about the procedure and I'll try to answer you as honestly as I can

    Millie

  • How long have you had afib? What is the longest length of time you stayed in afib? Do meds cinvert you or do you require cardioversion? Have you had high blood pressure??

    Lots of questions... sorry

  • Spoiler, I've been in persistent AF for 2+ years. I have been on maximum dose meds for the last year. They have controlled af the extent of minimum control, but still in af!

    I have had 1 cardioversion at the beginning of this yea. It initially worked but not very long. The drs decided not to do any more, even though I've had 2 hospital admissions this year. They said there wasn't any point!

  • I completely understand! In my case, I'm more afraid of the medicines so I decided to have the ablation. My doctor said the risk of serious complications from meds was 5% and from ablation was 1% in my case.

  • Hi Julie.

    Yes , like you I have such a huge fear of ablation. I could almost call it terror!

    Have tried reasoning with myself and being calm - but cannot shake away the awful fear that seems to sit on my chest and fill me with dread!

    Consultant has said to take time to weigh up the pro s and con s - but can't seems to get any further than the dread of having to finally make a decision!

    Please tell me I'm not alone with this fear 😒

  • I am the same.... just have not felt good about the risks.

  • I cant overcome my fear either, just consulted last Friday. I have persistent AF, 7 cardioversions in 2 years, 4 since March 28 of this year. Had a fatal reaction to second dose of Tykosyn which they revived me. I just have not been able to agree to ablation. I know how you feel. 😞

  • Is anesthetic an option for during surgery?

  • Yes

    I have had 3 with sedation and 2 with anaesthetic.

    For me GA was a better option - I have no interest in laying still for a 4 - 6 hour period and much rather go to sleep at 9:00 and wake at 3:30 when it is all over.

    I have also read that it can be more successful under GA.

    Pete

  • Some EPs say it is more successful under sedation as the heart and body is in a more natural state and because they can get feedback.

  • So there you have it pros and cons for both options.

    I still favour GA

  • Hi Barbara, anaesthetic wasn't given as on option to me, but the experience of being 'awake' although very drowsy, wasn't a frightening one. In fact it was interesting listening to the team.

  • For me it was stressful when I had sedation not interesting.

    However, I know you are not alone with this opinion.

    Pete

  • I live in the US and my EP cardiologist did not mention sedation for my ablation in September. It's just as well as I would not want to know what is going on, whatsoever. Plus, the surgery area always seems so cold! Much rather not know what is going on.

  • I'm having general anesthesia with mine on Tuesday. I have anxiety disorder.

  • Your anxiety disorder, in my opinion, will be lessened with GA rather than hours of the full experience.

    I know some find it fine to only have sedation and to be aware but not for me.

    Pete

  • Here in the US general anesthesia is the norm. My ablation was 9 hours so I'm very glad for that! Talk to your EP about your options.

  • Why was yours 9 hours? Tell me about your afib

  • According to my EP I had "very difficult anatomy'. My esophagus was so tight against my heart that it made it very difficult to do the work without causing harm. He worked on one side of my heart from 7 a.m till 12:30 and then the other side till 5:30. He had promised he wouldn't quit until every single area was taken care of. Originally I was diagnosed in 2002, with one episode or less a year for many years, and then a few episodes for a few hours / year, and then after a decade it was maybe once / month. The worst was when I had 18 episodes one year in 2013. In January 2014 I made massive lifestyle changes it went down to 7 short episodes during the next 15 months until I got pneumonia which threw me into persistent AF in April of 2015. I was traveling a lot so could not get my ablation till June and since then, blessedly, I am in NSR. Because of my difficult anatomy my EP said that another ablation is not an option for me. I am thankful for every single day in NSR.

  • Wow, I know every case is different. It is so hard to give an accurate prediction because of that. Did they know from the preop CT scan that your esophagus was in a tight spot with your heart. My Dr did say that is a concern area that is considered during the ablations. Just curious if they knew before surgery by the scan. Congratulaions👏

  • He didn't share that concern with me pre-op. (He knows I am a worrier), and I don't know if it was one of those things that you really can't judge until you are in there . He simply promised he was going to "beat the crap" out of my atria :-) And he did!

  • I had mine under ga took 5hrs it's now been 8weeks had a bit of a hiccup last week but feel fine ATM

  • What were your symptoms which you say were debilitating and how frequently did you have them? I'm scared of the risk of death/stroke and that is all that puts me off. I worry as for every 100 people there is one who doesn't make it to tell us their story. And so although I know there are 99 success stories I just can't help but think I wouldn't want to be that 1 in 100. I can see the positive figure but that negative statistic leaps out at me and there is no one - not even EP - who could 100% guarantee a healthy outcome. They are my fears laid bare.

  • Hi Julie

    As my dear old Dad said to me in March this year, when I told him I had decided to go for an ablation aged 58 (after having PAF for 20 years, the last 2 years, daily!) , he said "Life is a bit of a risk so just bite the bullet and do it it kid.")These people know what they are doing Julie and it couldn't be a better time to have it done with so much research and interest into AF right now)

    My Dad was never really scared of anything and always taught me to trust a professional as one would like to be trusted in return... It can save so much "worrying time" too! It really has been the best decision I have made in a very long while, my quality of life is 100% improved , and I am off all the meds and have been AF free for 7 months and counting! Also returned to work part time and getting back to some proper walking, gardening, yoga, dancing, blah, blah.... If I can help in any way and give support to you please do ask. Looking back I was starting to live my life in fear of having persistent AF and this new life free of that fear, has definitely been worth any risk !

    Good luck with making your decision.

    Best wishes

    Sarah

  • @sarah57 your positive story is very reassuring. And your Dad certainly gives great advice and strength! I think that because my symptoms of dizziness and shortness of breath improved on medication that meant I felt better in myself. I haven't fully decided either way so my mind is still open to ablation but it's a question of timing. For example I woke up a number of times in the night last night and wasn't quite sure if I'd stopped breathing, was my heart going fast what was going on. I was checking my heart rate through the night as I felt unwell and it looked low but the monitor doesn't pick up ectopics. So after last night of nights like that continued I'd be desperate for respite by ablation as it's scary even though we are told it's not dangerous. It sometimes feels dangerous to me having these episodes. On the other hand as I say when this medication is holding everything back then I'm very strong minded anyway so I don't worry. But I do question my own judgement that actually perhaps I'm being more tolerant of the symptoms and that at some point - like last night - it may get to me more than other times. That's when I'll begin to realise with the support of hearing other stories like on this post and this forum that ablation is 99% risk free and that half full cup of ablation is looking quite attractive! It's hard isn't it! I'm so pleased to hear people talking about their fears and successes as it offers/brings healthy helpful support.

  • I do really understand and remember those night time episodes Julie, and then when you feel better , it is so easy to think it may not happen again etc.

    What is so great now, is that I am starting to have days when I don't even think about my heart and am gradually starting to trust it again with exercise etc. as I said.

    I too , was pretty scared at the thought of Ablation but felt so proud that I decided to do it , and do it quickly too, as the waiting for it to happen can be pretty frustrating! My Dad was always saying "push on" and get on with life!( sorry to quote him a lot, but he sadly died at nearly aged 96!)

    You will know when the time is right, but my experience has told me, maybe don't wait too long!

    Sarah x

  • Sarah57 I think your Dad's advice is great advice! and it's lovely you have shared it. I think the diagnosis came as a shock and you are right that when the time is right I'll know. I think millie-becca-187 post of her success together with yours and the various responses has helped push my thinking along. And I'll remember your Dad's wisdom too! Thanks Sarah.

  • Sarah57 i replied to you but don't think your name worked. Hve a read on the post for my reply. My tech capacity is rubbish today ha ha.

  • Well said Sarah.

    I am only 3 days post ablation, and I'm already feeling the difference. If I can get a normal life back and be drug free too that will be amazing too. To be relatively young thinking I'd suffer like I had been for the rest of my life was not something I was prepared to accept. Life is a risk. You have to accept the ones that are potentially gonna make a difference to you .

    Millie

  • I thought the risk of not surviving might be more like 1/1000 and possibly this is pessimistic.

    I have to say that my own experience of ablation hasn't been quite like yours, millie-becca-187 because, apart from cannula insertion, I don't remember feeling any pain at any time, nor in fact do I remember much at all. I was there at the very beginning and then, on each occasion, the sedation kicked in and it all seemed to be over. I've had three ablations, all less than 2 hours in duration.

    Good to hear your encouraging tale, and great that you are doing well. Long may NSR last!

  • The odds of complications are far less than 1:100. The worldwide statistics are 10 times less and they do not differentiate between those with other heart conditions and those like me who have Lone Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation.

    I have had 5 long procedures all without any complications.

    So relax and trust the professionals.

    Pete

  • My symptoms of af were

    fatigue - constant tiredness but waking constantly during the night not being able to go back to sleep because my heart was going like the clappers

    breathlessness - couldn't walk 10 m without struggling sometimes. Exercise out if the question too.

    Palpitations - the feelings of anxiety when your heart is beating irregularly and fast.

    Dizziness/fuzzy head - feeling as though you're going to faint.

    General feeling of 'being unwell', 'not feeling right'.

    These were my symptoms of af which gradually got worse over the past year.

    As for the risk of a stroke, I had a very mild stroke 3weeks ago and was anti-coagulated. This was before my ablation.

    So we are always at a risk of having a stroke. We calculate risks in every walk of life. I believe this is a risk worth taking!

  • Most surgeries carry at least a 1% risk. (My husband had a procedure last year where they cleared a blockage in his leg and there was that risk, but it was that or not be able to walk.) Also consider that in that 1% risk are people in all different types of health. If you are in good health, your risk is actually lower.

  • I know EXACTLY how you feel. The drug Tykosyn has a 1 in 1,000 of causing cardiac arrest and it happened to me June 21 of this year.....I am not a gambler.

  • Julie there is risk in everything we do and in lots of cases an even greater one in doing nothing. When I first discussed ablation with my EP eleven years ago he mentioned a very small risk of death so I asked him when he last killed anybody. He looked shocked and somewhat affronted and said he never had so I asked him to put me on his list for the week after he did so that I would know he was going to be more careful. Once he realized I was joking (was I?) all was well. I had three in all and as I said eleven years ago and to my knowledge he still hasn't killed anybody.

    You can die from simple things going wrong or you can do really dangerous things carefully and live a happy life. As the old saying goes the only thing to fear is fear itself.

  • Hi Bob!

    I'm wondering if you were a gambling man and finding out he hasn't killed anyone,does that mean the odds are shortening? 😂

  • millie-becca-187 BobD Bob, I love your sentence "an even greater one (risk) in doing nothing". How true is that - and yet it is not something I have yet considered! Your honest question of the EP is so funny but so sincere! I asked my EP more subtly "does anyone die" and was gutted it was a yes. I don't know if that was on his watch.I suppose my problem is how bad do things have to get for me to overcome my fear. And without wanting to sound morbid we are stats by virtue of having AF. Yet we don't get to hear the after story of those stats whose outcome was not a happy one. I realise it's deep thought, but the easy decision for me is accepting an ablation which brings us a better quality of life - like all of you contributing on this post. But the hard decision is making the choice of accepting the small but real risk for my family members rather than for myself. It's that I find impossible. So maybe I now need to seek out their feelings, which to date I haven't done! Well @millie-becca-187 your post has made me think! Thank you!

  • I think you have maybe to make up your own mind. If you ask, air your fears but get encouraged to go for an ablation and it turns pear shaped, it's not a happy situation. Go for it, if you do, with the feeling that it is a brave and hopeful step forward, not because others think it is something you should do.

  • Waiting to go into Bart's for mine ,found your post very reassuring,the only difference with me is they said I have to have a general anesthetic I suppose they know best !! Wishing you a good recovery

  • @3 killeens, I also had a GA. The EP said it was because the anaesthetist would look after me whilst he was concentrating on the ablation. The only downside is the longer time that it takes to recover.

  • Thanks,love this site it is so informative!!

  • Excellent results! I, too, was supposed to have an ablation Wedsnesday but got bumped to next Tuesday. They are going to put me out, though.

  • Good luck for Tuesday Fred, I hope everything works out well for you and you are soon back in nsr like me. Having the ablation is the best decision I've made so far regarding my af.

    Millie

  • Nice to hear a bit of good news, hoping to have Ablation my self, on waiting list, Don't think it will work as been in A F permenant for few years but worth a try, good luck

  • Hi Highly, the EP didn't give me much hope of it working either as I've been in persistent AF for 2+ years. He said it was gonna be a 50/50 chance of success, but was prepared to give it a go.

    In our discussion post ablation he said he was very surprised it had been successful!

    So you never knowl

  • Thanks Millie you give me hope

  • Hi all some great posts there.

    I'm due to have my ablation on 3rd December but I'm not sure what to do.

    I have PAF and barely any symptoms at all.

    I excercise to a high level which doesn't make any difference either way.

    My EP says it's up to me I'm very worried in case the ablation makes things worse.

    I take Fleccanide, Enalapril and Bisoprolil daily by the way.

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