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23 hours and 23 people: A patient’s perspective

Published:October 07, 2016DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hrthm.2016.10.006
      It took me 3 years 5 months, 4 electrophysiologists’ opinions, and 8 atrial fibrillation (AFIB) episodes to finally and reluctantly agree to cryoablation for my paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. My electrophysiologist (EP) strongly advised me that this was the next line of treatment since rhythm medication obviously failed. After the initial diagnosis, I tolerated the 2–3 yearly episodes, each lasting 4–6 hours, because I always returned to normal sinus rhythm. I did all the usual things people do with an initial diagnosis: massive Internet searches at all the leading hospitals (no Wikipedia or AFIB for Dummies), joined an online Web site started by and devoted to patients (STOPAFIB.org), changed my diet to eliminate common AFIB triggers, and convinced myself to take the wait-and-see approach. After all, I was a devout coward who suffered from panic attacks and had dreadful memories of my parents’ medical crises since both suffered and died of strokes. However unrelated my condition was to theirs, I found myself questioning and battling this same destiny. While my EP considered me the perfect candidate for this procedure, I saw myself as an abysmal one. Is he really talking about me? Could I really ever overcome my fears and go forward?

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