Swim to the Ladder

Nothing like a short stint in the hospital to help you appreciate and reinforce all you have in life. I’m generally a half full kinda guy but the whole Afib thing had me down, periodically. It didn’t control my every thought, mind you. But it was occasionally limiting. And yes, there was a strong positive correlation (ok, causation) between bouts of Afib and getting bummed.

After starting on medication, it was almost as though I had never had Afib at all. Things were so uneventful and pre-diagnosis normal that I never even thought about it. But, I recently had three episodes which were reminders as to why I was doing the ablation procedure in the first place. Two of the three lasted a couple of hours each both the day and the night before the procedure and were perfectly timed reminders. No turning back.

Melissa had told me a story about the actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus telling David Letterman about her breast cancer diagnosis and fight a couple of weeks before I went in. Now I don’t mean to compare Afib or my procedure to cancer, but stay with me here. In the interview, she was asked about how she got through cancer and she told a story about a time she was swimming in the ocean and her husband was on the boat and “all of a sudden, (he) came to the bow of the boat and said, ‘Jules, I don’t want you to panic, but there’s a shark in the water and I need you to come back to the boat’.” She saw the ladder at the boat and focused on it, thinking about nothing else except just getting to the ladder. She went on to say that this was how she got through her cancer treatment: “just swimming to the ladder”. Again, I’m not equating Afib to cancer but the ablation procedure is not without risks. It is invasive and they are messing with your heart, after all. So, Melissa said to me, when I was down or scared, “just swim to the ladder”.

For anyone who’s had to have a surgery or procedure or make it through a difficult illness, perhaps you can relate to this good advice. And I thought about it whenever I was nervous, particularly in the 48 hours leading up to the surgery. So, when Dr. Bruno greeted me the morning of the procedure in his typical calm, affable and confident manner and I told him about the Afib episodes of the day earlier and he said, “well, should we fix this?” I was ready. “Let’s do it”, I said. Swim to the ladder.

The procedure went well. The care was fantastic. The nurses were great. Now I’m resting at home and eating only soft, cold or liquid foods and drinking tons of water (mostly because that’s about all I can drink) to avoid side effects of infection or inflammation of my esophagus. But mostly I’m appreciating all I’ve got in my life. How lucky I am. And swimming to the ladder.

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