If cardiac screening was available to me, I wouldn’t have had to go through this trauma by Cara Bunn

It was October 2021 – I’d recently just come back off holiday abroad for my 21st birthday and I wasn’t feeling myself at all. I had developed a cough but thinking it was due to me coming back to the colder weather I didn’t think twice about it. One morning before work while getting ready I actually fainted but it wasn’t for long so I carried on as I usually would just thinking I need to eat something sugary. Fast forward a few days I was at work on a Monday and my cough had got worse, I wasn’t able to catch my breath and I was having palpitations. I rang 111 as I wasn’t able to get a doctor’s appointment and was told a doctor would ring me within a few hours. I then started experiencing chest pain but was just told it was due to anxiety as I do suffer with anxiety & depression that I take medication for. As the pain didn’t ease, I rang 111 back within the hour and was told to go to A&E as they believed it could’ve been a blood clot on my lung.

In A&E I was given an ECG, chest x-ray and I had my bloods taken. 

My x-ray was fine, my bloods were all normal, but my ECG shown up something, but they weren’t sure what. Due to it being nighttime at this point I was told they would need a specialist to look at it the next morning and I would get a phone call. I was then sent home and awaited a call from a specialist in the morning.

Receiving the phone call, I was told to immediately make my way over to the hospital and go onto coronary care unit ward.

 I was then admitted and put on a heart monitor. It was so scary! I had no idea what was going on and due to me previously being healthy I had never stayed in hospital before. I had lots of different people come and speak to me and I was then told I would need an operation but at this point I still wasn’t sure what was the problem. 

It was during the pandemic, and I was young alone and so confused in the hospital. It was a horrible time.

I then had a consultant come and speak to me – it was at this point I was told I had a heart condition called Wolf-Parkinson-white. A condition I had never heard of before.

1 day before surgery

A couple of days past I was on the monitor 24/7, I was not able to leave the hospital room or see anybody but my mom for 1 hour a day which I was eternally grateful for as it was the only normality I had. 

It was the Thursday afternoon, and I heard a lot of beeping. 

All of a sudden 4 nurses rushed in, put my bed completely flat and I was rushed into theatre where I was given a catheter ablation. 

It was such a scary moment. It was a such a blur. The next couple of hours I had no idea what was happening, but I knew whatever it was it was what I needed. 

I was then kept in hospital for another 24 hours and I was finally told that my heart had started to beat over 200bpm, and I had to have the surgery to keep me alive. 

From going to a fit and healthy young girl to a girl that was bed bound for weeks was such a struggle and since then my life has never been the same. I have to take aspirin in a morning and carry GTN spray around with me 24/7.

Morning after surgery. A thumbs-up for getting through

Although my ablation was successful, I still have episodes of fast heart rates, palpitation and dizziness. I still have to have regular heart monitors because I also have tachycardia and AF (Atrial fibrillation)

I don’t really have any understanding of my condition still as unfortunately no face-to-face appointments were available and I never had chance to speak to my consultant after my surgery to fully understand what had happened and how it would affect me moving forward. 

So for now I’m just taking everyday as it comes but I am getting stronger by the day, I listen to my body and I can now recognise when an episode is about to happen or is happening. 

I truly believe if cardiac screening was available to me, I wouldn’t have had to go through this in the traumatic way I did and I would’ve been able to help my condition before it got to the point it did.

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