• Doug Valentine

Healing my heart arrhythmia – from atrial fibrillation to an open heart

Updated: Aug 7, 2020

It had been a great day and a very enjoyable evening. I was feeling a warm contented glow and I was feeling blessed as I took in nature briefly before retiring for the night in a remote Bed and Breakfast establishment deep in the countryside. I settled into bed early looking forward to a replenishing sleep when suddenly everything changed.

My heart hadabruptlystarted to go crazy in my chest, big fast jerky beats, then a stop, followed by more racy beats. In that moment it occurred to me how much I had taken my heart’s regular rhythmic operation for granted, never thanking it for the amazing job it had done for so many years. I regretted this lack of gratitude on my part and was feeling very scared by what was happening. I was not sure if I was having a heart attack or was perhaps about to have one. I lay there for an hour or two not sure what to do and praying that it would stop. It didn’t. I began to realise that perhaps lying there was not the best approach, so I got dressed and got in the car.

I had no idea where to find a hospital and so I headed for the nearest town where I found someone to ask. It was past midnight, so there were few reliable witnesses to call on, but I decided to believe the couple I spoke to, who said the nearest hospital was in a town over 30 minutes drive away. I decided that if I was about to have a heart attack it would be best if I was not driving at my normal speed and so it took me over an hour to get to the town and locate the hospital. I found the Accident and Emergency building and as I was parking my car, my heart slipped back into its normal harmonious rhythm. I explained all that had occured to the staff, who said they were sure that they were wasting their time but would put me on an ECG machine. Sure enough everything was normal and there was nothing wrong with me, so I was sent back into the night.

Having come to understand how important caring for myself was, and that included not ignoring issues that arose in my body, when I arrived back home a few days later, I booked up straight away to see my GP. I explained to him that the irregular heart beat was happening every night since that first time a few days before, as thatwas the pattern that had emerged, and his response was that there was nothing they could do unless they could see it happening.

Because it only occurred in the middle of the night, it was two months later before I awoke one morning with the arrhythmia still running, so I took myself straight to the surgery – not stopping to grab anything to eat or any money or a mobile phone – that turned out to be three mistakes, not one.

I had to wait half an hour for a nurse to strap me in to the ECG machine and she was all relaxed until she saw the printout. She disappeared out of the room and a couple of minutes later my GP and another GP appeared, having seemingly abandoned their patients. I learned that I had a type of arrhythmia called atrial fibrillation happening and the other GP started applying heavy pressure to an artery in my neck, and when that didn’t work similar pressure to my eyeball, warning me that she could only try each once or shecould harm me. Meanwhile my GP was dialling 999 and requesting an ambulance for urgent transfer to the nearest hospital. In the ambulance I started to feel very unwell, possibly due to a combination of the infectious panic at the GP’s surgery and not having any breakfast perhaps. I learned from the paramedics that I had very low blood sugar and that low blood sugar and arrhythmia were a dangerous mix. Fortunately they had some glucose to feed me, which felt like a lifesaver.

At the hospital the cardiologist undertook some tests and then came to inform me that my plumbing was in good shape, but it appeared that I had an electrical problem. I asked him what could be done about it and he said: “I am going to prescribe you some medication that will help control the arrhythmia.” I asked him if he thought this was a short-term thing or would I be on them for life. He confirmed that it would be for life and so reluctantly I went home and started to take the medicine.

The symptoms immediately worsened – instead of just happening in bed at night, it happened around eight times a day. I called the cardiologist and went to see him again and we agreed that I would not medicate and just live with the symptoms if that was what I preferred.

So why had this happened to me andwhat was the underlying cause of the arrhythmias? Through a process of taking much greater care of my health which started a couple of years prior,I had come to understand that the way I had been living all of my life, has been with a deep layer of protection to keep people at a distance, which must havecontributed toa big contraction in my vascular system, probably leading to my long term high blood pressure.

Basically,I had very effectively shut down my heart from its natural and innate fullness and by doing so I had keptmy whole vascular system contracted over many, many years, thereby increasing my blood pressure and putting a constant stress on my heart, which sooner or later would result in a physical problem. So the arrhythmia that arrived that night must have been brewing in my body for many years leading up to that first unpleasant experience not just because of my ill food and beverage choices but also I am sure of that, because of my choices to live shut down to the love that I naturally am. Or to put it another way, I had chosen to live almost exclusively from a loveless mind rather than living from my full-of-love heart, the centre of love in my body.

I came to understand the role that I had played in causing my own medical condition, and this gave me the opportunity to choose to change the behaviours which were harming myself as well as all those around me. I began to understand the importance of removing not only foods and beverages that had not been supporting good health of my heart but alsoremoving the protection I had built around myself to keep people away and instead to start to embrace letting people see all of me, to let them in rather than keeping them out. I feel the changes I made were a crucial part of the overall healing, facilitated also with the assistance and techniques from conventional medicine.

A year or more after the initial symptoms occurred, I was talking about my arrhythmia to a friend who is a doctor and she suggested that I investigate a procedure called an ablation, which I did. I discovered that it offered a complete cure in quite a high proportion of cases, so I re-contacted the cardiologist and asked to see him again. When at the meeting he asked what he could do for me, I said I would like to get the arrhythmia fixed. He looked slightly stunned and said: you mean an ablation?

That was exactly what I meant and so he referred me to a different specialist at another hospital where they ran a lot of tests which showed that I had a brace of arrhythmias and that I would need two ablations, but these could be done at the same time in a six hour procedure. The cardiologist said that there were very few patients that he would recommend or indeed even be able to agree on having one ablation done, let alone two, because almost everyone that he saw had several other health problems as well as the arrhythmia.

The procedures were both done the same day with 100% success and the cardiologist confirmedthat he was sure that the fact that I clearly took very good care of my health was a large factor in the success of the procedures. I too know, without any doubt, that the part I played in changing my food, lifestyle and behaviours choices, when combined with the amazing skill of the cardiologist and his team all came together to bring the healing that I was blessed to receive.

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