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I was officially diagnosed with SVT back in February of this year after wearing a Holter monitor for a few days. I had been having “episodes” over the past couple years that began to serve as unbearable and debilitating as they grew worse in nature. However, I had no idea what they were associated with.

The episodes presented themselves in the form of intense chest pain that seemed to radiate into my arms. Some might describe it as a similar feeling to a heart attack, or that someone is sitting on their chest making it difficult to breathe. That sensation was following by shakiness, fatigue, dizziness, and sometimes fainting. I could feel palpitations, and it was as if my heart was racing and pounding against my chest wall. I could not only hear every beat, but feel it pounding in my head. Episodes could last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. My resting heart rate would consistently sit around 130 bpm (whereas a regular rate is closer to 70 bpm), and anywhere up to 200+ bpm when in an SVT episode.

Cardiologists put me on Atenolol, a beta blocker designed to curb the symptoms associated with SVT as well as slow the heart rate to a manageable speed. While the beta blocker med ending up making my asthma worse, it did help in the management of the symptoms I was experiencing. My resting heart rate usually sat around 80 bpm on Atenolol and I was seeing less episodes. But as time went on, the medication stopped working. I began experiencing numerous “break through” episodes where I ended up on the phone with on-call cardiologists, ruling out if a hospital visit was in store to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm.

I eventually met with an arrhythmia specialist to determine if I was a potential candidate for an ablation procedure. Luckily for me, SVT is not only treatable, but a curable heart disorder. After a consultation with a doctor out of Scottsdale, I was approved for an ablation procedure in early June. The surgery was scheduled for July 11 (I just underwent it).

The nerves I experienced leading up to the surgery would come and go. It never really became reality until the day before and of the actual procedure. The doctors explained the procedure (in extreme detail, nonetheless) and I won’t lie, I was scared shitless. Basically, the surgery is essentially burning out the electrical wiring in the heart that doesn’t function as it should. They do this by puncturing through the femoral artery/vein by accessing it in your groin. They feed catheters up these passageways into your heart and begin “shocking” the heart to induce the SVT arrhythmia in order to determine the part of the heart that is not functioning properly. Once they locate the short circuit, they feed wires through the catheters and literally burn out the part that is not working.

The nurses on the day of the surgery explained to me that I was going to be awake for this surgery. The reasoning was that so I could tell the surgeons if the procedure was hurting me…and I’m not even kidding. I was put under a “conscious sedation” for the duration of the surgery and was assured I wouldn’t feel much other than the initial poke of the numbing agent and that I might feel the actual burning process of the ablation. Not the most comforting words as they were ready to wheel me into the operating room, and frankly, I questioned my sanity in agreeing to this, but I figured a few hours of this sure as hell beat a lifetime of symptoms.

The “operating room” (formally called a cath lab) had a 6 screen monitor system, designed to aid in the ablation procedure. They placed a collection of pads strategically along my back and torso, which was explained would recreate a 3D picture of the inside of my heart, like a customized map. This would guide the catheters safely into my heart and would help the doctors locate the problem. The table I was to lay on for the next 3 hours was actually a Tempurpedic, and I was allowed to pick the music, but even the conscious sedation medications knocked me out cold. I woke up a few times during the procedure and only felt a little bit of the burning sensation before the anesthesia nurse knocked me out again. The surgery lasted about 3 hours and with a few complications, the doctor was 98% sure he burned the right part of the heart (we hope).

Recovering a few days later, it has been a little bit rougher than I was initially informed, but all I can do is keep telling myself that it’s worth it. My atenolol has officially been discontinued and I’m looking forward to a life ahead living symptom free. My heart is currently experiencing extra beats and the occasional painful tinge throughout, but it’s recovering from the trauma of the procedure. Other than that, I only have bruising in the groin area at the sites of the puncture wounds, but they’re healing nicely.

For anyone that is suffering from SVT and is looking to find a way out, consider the ablation procedure. While it is heart surgery and an overall scary and perhaps overwhelming concept to process, it was completely worth it to regain control of my life again.

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  • Question: Six months ago you said you were in a committed relationship. Are you still in that relationship? - Anonymous
  • Answer:

    Yes! I am still in that relationship and have never been happier. It’s been 14 months now and I can’t wait to see how our relationship (and ourselves) will develop over the years.

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And the countdown begins…

2 days and my final assignment of my undergraduate career will be turned in.
8 days and Finals Weeks commences with my first final.
9 days and I will have taken my last final of my undergraduate career.
11 days and I will be graduating from NAU with honors. 

I spent the entire month of November preparing my applications for graduate school in psychology, working extra hours to spare enough cash to submit all the necessary materials by the December 1st deadline. A mere $800 later of my own paychecks, I had successfully submitted graduate applications to 7 schools, including:
   -The University of Montana
   -The University of Iowa
   -The University of Washington (Seattle)
   -Washington State University
   -Idaho State University
   -The University of Oregon
   -The University of Kansas 

I do not know what the future holds for me in the realms of state relocation, but wherever I’m intended to go will happen in a matter of 8 months. Within the next 4-5 years, I will hold a doctorates in clinical psychology on my way to APA licensure; this I know.

"Who seeks shall find." -Sophocles 

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  • Question: What happened at your summer job? - Anonymous
  • Answer:

    Corrupt management that stemmed from the top and leaked throughout the other staff members, which overall affected morale and the student experiences. It was honestly disappointing to see it happen after being with the organization for 4 years- the students were the most important thing, and as long as I made sure I gave them what they deserved from the program and gave them an unforgettable experience, then that was what mattered most, despite all the shit from management.

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I’ve now entered my final semester as an undergraduate student at NAU. I’m currently doing undergraduate research in children’s phobias and phobia treatments along with taking clinical psychology and a few other electives in my field of study. Come December, I’ll graduate summa cum laude with a B.S. in pyschology. For the future? The sky’s the limit.

After a rather terrible experience at a summer job I used to love, I’ve decided that I’ve grown up and have moved on, for good, from spending my summers near D.C. While teaching forensic science and essential leadership skills will always be a huge part of me, I’ve decided to continue my endeavors elsewhere. 
With that, I’ve accepted and have been working with The Guidance Center, an organization that has become very near and dear to my heart. I was initially an intern for TGC back in January after an internship with the jail didn’t work out, but honestly, it was a blessing in disguise. After leaving my internship in May, I applied for a paid position, had scheduled an interview within a day of applying, and was hired a few weeks later. I started in August and absolutely love my job. I get to hang out with seriously mentally ill (SMI) clients on my shifts, in which I assist in cooking (if they ask for help), medicine administration, and skills training. Not only do I get paid to do something I was already passionate about, but it also looks great on graduate school resumes. 

Which, I guess, leads to my future plans. I’ve signed up to take the GRE and will be applying to numerous schools for the Ph.D. programs in clinical and children’s clinical psychology. While I haven’t quite formulated exactly where I want to go, I do plan on applying to Harvard and a couple other Ivy League schools. My credentials are high enough to get accepted, but I won’t necessarily be disappointed if I don’t; it’s more so to push my limitations and see if I can. Wherever life leads me, I plan on having my Ph.D. by age 26 at the latest. Call it industrious, yet it’s completely plausible. 

I’ve also been in a committed relationship for almost 8 months now. And while the intimate details of my dating life don’t need to be revealed, I can say that this one is THE one. I didn’t find love in the traditional way, nor the ‘acceptable’ way in society’s standards, but I could give a shit less what society thinks. While I may not have marriage rights in the state of Arizona, I do have it elsewhere. I hope that one day it will be accepted nationwide, in which I believe it should be, but all in good time. The government can’t tell me who to love, so even though I may not have legality, it won’t make my relationship any less significant, but rather, more meaningful because I fight disapproval to keep it.

I couldn’t really tell you why I’m posting the play-by-play of my life right now, but because it all seems like a blur, I feel like it clears my thoughts to have them on paper. And with that, I’m signing off.

"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." - e.e. cummings 

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(via jessiganyard)