atrial fibrillation: with updates


It’s hardly Oz. While we cannot see behind the curtain, we can hear quite well. You look up from the paperwork when we hear, "My, what a beautiful airway you have." So much better for keeping your teeth during anesthesia. "I bet no one’s ever told you that before, but it’s true. Lovely passageway."

I can’t help but think that passageway isn’t a word to be used lightly right before surgery. It’s a tunnel, lady. You know, if you’re going to warn patients about knocked-out teeth and warm tingling feelings, you should also make a point of warning them to move away from the light.

The patient behind the curtain is a young woman whose heart rate sped up abnormally when she was thirteen. She is having an ablation today, a procedure we’ve researched for you–the next leg of this, after these paddles,  will be an ablation to correct your persistent atrial fibrillation. Or at least, we think. We don’t know anything for sure, other than you’re in constant atrial fibrillation. And you know, quite well, that your blood is nice and thin thanks to all that blood thinner you’ve been choking down each night, after setting the tater tots in their cribs, going weekly to a clinic to ensure your blood is in the proper "anti-stroke" range.

I just kissed you on the head, and you, just as Lucas would say, looked up at me and said, "Up, up?" Hoping I might scoop you up and whisk you away. Soon, honey belle, soon. Let’s just fill that passageway of yours for a sec, and then I’ll see what I can do to get you out of this magical land of Oz.

UPDATE: They’ve just now discovered Phil has a complete (stage three) heart block. We had never heard this before. Tomorrow morning Phil is getting a dual-lead pace maker. The atrial fibrillation will likely return, we’re told, so a possible ablation is in his future. For now, though, my 41-year-old husband is getting a pace maker. One day at a time.


It’s morning, and now, unfortunately, the atrial fibrillation they shocked him out of yesterday is already back. At his young age Atrial fibrillation shouldn’t go untreated. With it, Phil is at very high risk of stroke, and his atrium grows larger… The larger it grows, the harder it is to repair. To repair means an ablation as well as a pacemaker, but we’ll see what the doctor says. A nurse came running in early this morning, so early it was still night. "Are you okay? Your heart beat is at 22 beats a minute. People have never seen this before. The medical community here is perplexed, an annoying word that reminds me of legwarmers and exercise videos. His normal resting heart rate is 32, and he has always had exceptional blood pressure, nothing high. This is an electrical problem and has nothing to do with diet, exercise, or my cooking.

Thank you so much, again for reaching out and for all the prayers and good thoughts. I will update when I learn/know more.



  1. A coworker had cardiac ablation. It went well and she's doing great. I hope Phil's procedure is equally as successful.

  2. Oh man. Sending all good thoughts and a virtual teleporter for a speedy passage back down the yellow brick road.

  3. Is this Phil that is having the procedure!? I'm confused.

    My Dad had A-Fib. I was so terrified I couldn't stop spontaneously bursting into tears every time I opened my mouth. MY DAD?! He works in the heart industry, how is that even possible.

    But you know, he had that funky little ablation 3 years ago and has been good as new ever since. It wasn't really a fun procedure, but not a huge deal…

    But it's scary. Our hearts always are. And I'm sorry you are going through this, no matter who you are talking about.


  4. Oh, God, Stephanie. Never a dull moment in the Beer / Klein household is there? Get well and stay strong vibes are coming to Phil from all corners of the internet…

  5. After a very stressful period in his life, a good friend started to have "the flutters" (as we called them). When it got to be a nightly thing, he too, had the ablation surgery. He is doing GREAT now, and hasn't been to the hospital since. Fingers crossed for Phil. Please keep us posted.

  6. Oh dear. While I'm not clear on exactly what Phil's having (had?) done, but I have enough of a sense to feel anxious yet reassured that it's sort of kind of routine — realizing that of course it's not routine if it's you or your spouse or child or parent. Hoping you'll post soon that all's well!

  7. Oh Stephanie. I hope everything works out for both of your sakes. You're such a strong woman – I have no doubt you'll be able to get through it all.

    Best of wishes to you.

  8. Light and love to you and Phil and the taters. All of you are in my heart and in my prayers.

  9. Prayers and well wishes from this cyber stranger to you and yours. How are you holding up? Do you have other family with you to help? Be well Phil.

  10. Hang in there, you guys are as strong as lead. I'll keep praying and checking and hoping, I just know he'll be fine.

    You will too.

  11. I know it's really scary, but the good news is the problem has been found and is being taken care of.

    Praying for a quick recovery.

  12. I have a ICD device, a combination of a defibrilator and a pacemaker. I also have arterial fibrilation that is caused by my generic heart defect. Having the device installed is really easy peasy. Having it in your body makes pretty much no difference to your daily activity besides being unable to walk thru a metal detector. They give you a card to show so that you don't even have to argue the fact. And it gets you thru the airline security lines really fast!

    I hope the surgery goes well. If you or Phil has a question about the recovery and the whole 'how do I live with this thing', I'm happy to help.

  13. Sending you and your family good thoughts! I am sure all will turn out well.

  14. I will keep you and Phil in my thoughts and prayers!! The entry was wonderfully written, too.

  15. Mishebeirach – a prayer for the renewal of body and spirit.

    Thinking of you and Phil and sending you cyber smiles.

  16. Oh no! I hope it all works like dream and there are no unforseen problems. Keeping you all in mind, Sarah

  17. What is it that they say about life, that it keeps biting you on the ass? My thoughts and good wishes are with Phil for a quick recovery and for the rest of you to soon be over the stress.

  18. What a horrible thing to have to go through. If he comes to need an ablation – make sure that you do some research and get the best cardiologist you can find to do the procedure. I worked in the field and some are good and some not so good and I wouldn't want any not so good doctor doing a procedure like that.

  19. I have to decide by October whether to have ablation or not. I've heard wonder things about it, and some of the meds I take are making my hair fall out, so I'm considering it. The doctor who invented the procedure practices in Boston.

  20. I wrote the above last night and didn't have time to post. I just saw your update. My father has AT, and we are currently researching the procedures, etc. This post was a little erie for me. Phil is in my prayers and I am sending you both strength. And Stephanie, it sounds like you are (amazingly) managing very well, all things considered.

  21. I wrote the above last night and didn't have time to post. I just saw your update. My father has AT, and we are currently researching the procedures, etc. This post was a little erie for me. Phil is in my prayers and I am sending you both strength. And Stephanie, it sounds like you are (amazingly) managing very well, all things considered.

  22. In response to a comment by Kellye to the post "Is special needs" a retarded term?"

    FROM SK: Thanks for this. Phil is at a very high risk of stroke, and we constantly joke about it: subject for another post.

    I guess this is it. Much strength from me to you and your terrific husband.

  23. Sending good thoughts and positive vibs your way. Just know you and Phil are in my thoughts hoping everything goes well.
    Exactly what you said is all you can do….One day at a time.
    You both will summon the strength to get through this too, somehow we all do.

    HUGS to you…

  24. Oh girly! Could you POSSIBLY have more drama in your life???!!! I'm so sorry this is going on; you've been through so much in the past 2-3 years.

    Many hugs and thoughts and prayers coming your way.

  25. It's hell getting old, especially when it hits too young. My husband had to get an arterial stent at 43. It's scary. I'll keep you all in my prayers and be checking back for updates.

  26. you are very strong. I don't care how many people you manage to piss off with your sometimes random posts, but you've got one thing going for you that always reminds me of what brings me back to the blog and to you.

    You are a very strong woman that is tested time and again. Nothing and no one can take that away from you.

    Much love to your family.

  27. Hugs to you, phil and the beans. We are all thinking of you – I hope thousands of miles away you can feel that.

  28. Hopefully things have gone well for Phil this past year since his initial ablation.
    Should it not I recommend talking to a cardiac surgeon who might provide an ablation outside the heart which seems to have higher efficacy.
    Although I have nothing to do with it directly, check out the website Melanie Treat Hills who runs this had Afib abd had a surgical procedure which saved her lfe and as she and many say gave her her life back.

    Best wishes for you both.

  29. I Had an ablation recently ( January 13th) a very long experience. I was chucked out the hospital the next day and sent home.two days later I was in the ER for congestive Heart failure today I feel great (sic) but only if I stay on amioderone if I miss ONE dose Im either in Atrial flutter or AFib So ablation number 2 awaits

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