I ended up taking the new medication (sotalol) for three full days: last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. While I didn't have any more unexpected falls (thank God), I did have some side effects from the drug. To put it bluntly? It made me feel like shit.
The sotalol, like pretty much any drug designed to slow your heart rate down, made me feel incredibly tired. For three days I kind of felt like I was asleep even when I was awake, and that was no fun at all. I also had a few bad headaches. Not only that, but the medication didn't really slow my heart down that much. For the three days I was taking it, my heart rate pretty much hovered between 98 and 110. Prior to the AFib flare-ups, my heart rate was consistently between 55 and 65.
I could still feel the AFib coming and going, too. I would have little episodes, start feeling clammy, and find myself feeling out of breath after standing for long periods of time or going up stairs. Truth be told, I felt worse than I did when I was taking my old medication.
By late Sunday night, after three days' worth of the new medication, I had decided I had had enough and would go forward with the catheter ablation I had discussed with my electrophysiologist. I felt a great sense of relief and couldn't wait to call my doctor's office in the morning to let them know about my decision.
On Monday morning I called and talked to my doctor's nurse practitioner (NP). I explained how the sotalol had kicked my ass over the weekend and told her I wanted to schedule the ablation. She understood completely and we scheduled the procedure for Monday, November 16th.
The NP also told me to go back to my old meds--propafenone, along with a small nightly dose of digoxin--until the day of my procedure. Needless to say, I was more than happy to do that.
Then something strange happened. By late afternoon on Monday, I noticed that I was feeling better. Not just better because I wasn't experiencing the side effects from the sotalol anymore, but better because my heart felt like it was slowing back down to its normal rate again. And I didn't feel any AFib, either!
Tuesday morning I woke up feeling fine, and when my wife headed out to run some errands I asked her to pick up some prescriptions for me, including one for Xarelto, the blood thinner my doctor wanted me to take for the two weeks leading up to my ablation.
A short time later, my wife called me from the pharmacy. The Xarelto--a brand name drug with no generic available yet--was going to cost us $364.00. I was shocked. So shocked that I told my wife to hold off on picking that script up. I haven't had a full-time job in almost two years and money is kind of tight. Call me a cheapskate, but there was no way in hell I was going to pay that much for two weeks' worth of meds. I decided I'd call the doctor later on to see if there was a more economical substitute for the Xarelto.
But by Tuesday afternoon, I was still feeling better. In fact, I was feeling normal. So I held off on even calling the doctor's office. Instead, I figured I'd just see how I felt over the next few days.
Fast forward to today. More than a week after I went back to my old medication that didn't seem to be working anymore, I still feel normal. My heart rate is normal and I haven't had a single AFib flare-up.
So today I called my doctor's office, told them I was going to hold off on the ablation procedure for now, and made an appointment for a follow-up visit this Thursday. I don't know if my heart will continue to behave like it has been for the last eight days, but I'm more than willing to take a wait-and-see approach to find out.
The human heart is a complex machine, complete with an amazing electrical system that can, unfortunately, act up from time to time. I respect that and will keep a close eye on how my heart is doing over the next few days. I'm also anxious to hear what my doctor will have to say on Thursday.
It's nice to know that the catheter ablation procedure is in my back pocket in case I need it. But for now, I plan on sticking with the status quo until my body--or my cardiologist--tells me otherwise.
|Things have been pretty normal around here lately.|