Ablation no. 2!

Having had one ablation 8 months ago you'd think the second would have been a piece of cake .... Oh boy! It was one of the worst experiences I've ever had. Here's why.

As usual I walked to the Cath lab and was prepared for the procedure (pads placed everywhere on the body iodine on groin, arms given rests to lean on, covered up) etc etc. This was so far so good. Then given local anaesthetic in groin and procedure begins.

The EP talked and guided me through every stage. Without going into long and boring details, as I remember and felt every single second of it.The puncturing of my aorta was uncomfortable. I felt pressure on my chest, the burning reached into my throat and I felt very panicky as the procedure went into the 3rd hour. They kept asking me if I was ok, I told them yes, no, uncomfortable, painful at various times. The EP just said another 3mg of morphine, but I didn't feel drowsy at all. At one point I coughed, they nearly had a fit and said don't do that. I told them it was hurting and they gave me more morphine. No difference.

The procedure fortunately came to an end after just over 2 and a half hours. It felt like I'd just been through torture. What an unpleasant and uncomfortable experience and one I hope never to do again!

I don't want to scare anyone off the procedure but I'm trying to be honest as my first experience was a positive one.

My only saving grace is that I'm now back in nsr. Yippee.

Sorry if I've been a bit dramatic but honestly it was a traumatic experience and I'm not one to be squeamish or moan.

28 Replies

  • Sorry you had that experience.

    Was there an anaesthetist in the cath lab?

    Why did you say yes everything was alright when It wasn't?

    Best wishes.

  • Yes there was an anaesthetist and I only said yes when it was tolerable.

  • Oh Ok, I misunderstood.

  • Yes Im afraid that mirrors my second experience too. There were potentially serious complications as they pierced the septum and I assumed that they were then more focussed on damage limitation than keeping me comfortable but it was not pleasant and like you , my first one had been pain free.

  • You really should have told them you were finding it unacceptable. Incidentally I think you mean puncture of the septum rather than aorta or you most likely would not be with us now.

    I guess there will always be people for whom sedation is less effective and sorry it had to be you.

  • Haha sorry Bob, puncture of the septum

  • So sorry to hear about this, although the NSR bit is spot on.

    My ablation experiences have been pain free and almost total la la land throughout. I think though that in what we are given (and I've had fentanyl and midazolam) there can be something that makes us forget all about it. Thus, even though we can think we have been blotto, it is possible that we can have experienced far more than we remember. This bothers me a bit, because babbling incoherently is one thing and gabbling away with a loosened tongue is another. And here's the advantage of root canal work: one can't speak.

  • Oh bless you, that's sounds horrendous and you are not the first to report similar experiences. I wonder why they vary so much for people. I dont get why some ep's give local and others GA..

    I do hope you get a good result from the procedure. Really no one should have such an experience in this day and age. I could cry for you it sounds awful. Hope all goes well now it's over. X

  • Thankyou, I'm at home now taking things easy. The advice from the hospital is quite blasé, that recovery takes about a week then you'll be fine to return to work. .... Well from past experience this is not the case, I'm post 4 days and no way am I going back to work for at least another 2-3 weeks.

  • They don't give a GA always because it can take so long to recover from a GA.

  • Oh dear, what an experience. When I had my first ablation, it hurt when they started "burning". I groaned, I heard the work morphine and that was it, next hting woke up in bed all done and dusted. But if the morphne hadn't worked it would no doubt have been quite an experience. I didn't know morphine doesn't work for everyone!

    Glad to hear you're back in NSR.


  • Thanks koll, whether it worked or not they gave me at least 4 shots and I was still majorly aware of everything, I was quite scared at the time

  • Ditto sounds like you just described my 1st ablation, i feel this would be a better torture than bamboo up the finger nails, yet I have begged for a 2nd go 😱 I'm guessing the 10years since have softened the memory a little. Hey at least it's over x

  • Haha, a bit like childbirth I said never again after my 1st. I've now got 2 children lol

  • Wow! They let you be conscience for that? I was out cold for all of mine. The first one was rough. When I came to my throat burned because My doc belated around the pulmonary arteries. The second and third wasn't bad at all. The fourth one really hurt. My chest and throat was on fire. Unfortunately, it made me worse. I wish I could give you a hug for all that. Is there anything else your doctor can do so you don't have to feel all of that? I'm so sorry you had that done to you.

  • What a terrible experience. I am afraid that the primary driver for not giving GA's is cost more than recovery time. My EP told me why would I risk you moving?

  • Hi. I'm so sorry to hear this and I hope you are feeling better now. I had my first ablation a week ago and it's a big thing to go through both emotionally and physically. I was very tearful for the first few days post procedure and feel there was a big lack of guidance from the hospital on what to expect both during the procedure and afterwards. The guidance I read says a week off work is advised and you can drive after two days. It makes the procedure seem like a walk in the park, which its not. This forum is incredibly good you realise that everyone has very different experiences and there is no right or wrong. One week on and I am only just walking around the house. I've had low blood pressure and my chest is still uncomfortable. I am a long way off driving or returning to work. Hope you recover soon, Fiona

  • I totally agree Fiona, take things easy you know how you feel and when you're ready to o go back to work.

  • It's amazing what different experiences people get. My 1st ablation for flutter was also torture - I went into AF half way through and in the end it was 4 hours. I felt totally awake and even five lots of morphine didn't do a lot. There is more detail but I will spare you. The experience put me off ever having one again but in the end I had a 2nd for AF 4 years later under GA. That in theory a better experience for the ablation side of it although various other things that can happen during ops did happen and the care after in ward wasn't great. I didn't find my recovery after GA any different to the 1st one.

  • It's not much fun is it Kate, hope you're back in nsr and everything's​ well now

  • I had the same situation 3 weeks ago and now due to go back to rectify some damage as my H R is 140/150 and irregular very uncomfortable,the new EP told me its not A/F so goodness knows whats going on,i could not face another ablation under sedation so they are giving me a GA,the first one was off the scale with my arms involuntary flaying around and then pericarditis to follow ! no walk in the park

  • I too got pericarditis 1st time - very painful!

  • Wow! I am so sorry for what you went through! That sounds brutal. I live in the States, and when I asked my surgeon if I would be awake for the procedure, during our consultation several months prior to the ablation, he acted like I was nuts for suggesting it. (So I started to doubt my memory and assumed I misunderstood what I had read/heard bedore.) Well clearly not - since it sounds like all of you were awake (but drugged) for yours! They put me fully under for my ablation, which lasted 4 hours. And I agree with others on this thread who have said they really don't give you a clear idea of what to expect. The "1 week off, and you can drive in two days" makes it sound like no big deal. It took me 3 days before I stopped having regular memory gaps in my day, due tithe anesthetic. (Even stranger, it was family who realized it was happening, since while I was experiencing it, I couldn't tell.) No one told us the procedure was 4 hours long, we were expecting a hour or so. I was very weepy for several days after the procedure, which unsettled me at the time. The pain wasn't bad, but I exhausted easily, and had no stamina at all for a week. Just sitting and chatting with family for an hour would wring me out. I would end up sleeping for 3 hours after. I was terrified of having to go back to work after 7 days. I managed to get 3 more off from work, which helped a lot. But even then I could have used another full week off. I am so glad I had my ablation, and will get another of I need it. But it was harder than I expected.

  • I went to the Basildon Hospital which is a heart specialist unit and they told me that I would be drugged but awake because they needed to communicate during the procedure, so I thought this was normal practise.

  • Wow, sounds a terrible experience. I am very, very,very glad my two procedures have been pain free. I did 'come round' during the second one just as the man was burning a section, he said you may feel these 3 and I did, not really painful just felt them. It wouldn't put me off if there is a next time. Let's hope you don't have to face the prospect of any further ablations.

  • Just finished my third ablation. Guess I was lucky, all of mine were under general anesthesia, so no discomfort at all. Last one, they pulled the catheter lines out after I woke up, that hurt like a son-of-a gun! Sorry for your discomfort and unpleasantness, glad you're back in nsr!

  • So sorry to hear of your experience, its not a pleasant procedure and like you I was giving additional doses of morphine. The outcome of mine was deemed successful however it was anything but, I kept having 'white outs' was how I described them, this hot feeling coming up from my feet into my stomach/abdomen and finally my head and then the whiteouts. I went to my cardio and apparently this was, more or less, the same as a blackout, I was offered another ablation but declined, they tried me on Bisoporal which I took with Disoopyramide (a drug I have been on now for many years being the one that suited me best apparently) but still the white outs and that was when I was offered the Pacemaker and drugs so many people have a good experience and results from ablation but sadly some don't.

  • I am so sorry you suffered this experience. I had a similar when having a colonoscopy six months ago. I felt I was being disembowled by a butcher's hook. I was so traumatised that when I got home I was reliving the experience and started researching the drugs I had been given. One was a a drug 50 times stronger than morphine and the other a drug that affects the memory of the experience, neither of which had kicked in at the beginning of the procedure. When I went back to see the lead consultant, a most gracious kind man (who incidentally didn't carry out the procedure) he gave me his profound apologies and lots of his time and it truly made everything better. If need be I would go back and have another (I love life) but would spell out my experience.

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