Share Your Story: Alanna Lee

For eight years, I struggled to get a diagnosis for my heart condition.  It started when I was 16.  I was young, healthy, and active.  When I started having heart palpitations and chest pains, I had no idea why.  When you are 16, your peers and teachers aren't talking about heart health. You aren't told about the symptoms of heart disease.  People my age didn't have heart problems!

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I would have up to 10 ER visits in a month, in between appointments with my cardiologist and family doctor.  My heart rate would often be over 200, one time reaching 230.  I would have EKG's done, ultrasounds, stress tests, and x-rays.  They would come back normal and I would be sent home. I heard "you're too young to have heart problems," "it's stress," and "you have anxiety" more times than I could count.

I saw more doctors than friends.  I felt isolated and alone.  Sometimes when I went to bed, my heart would be beating so irregularly and fast, I would wonder if I was going to wake up in the morning, or if my heart was just going to stop in my sleep.  I could tell that my friends and family were starting to doubt me. Why would all of these doctors and nurses tell me I was fine, if I wasn't?  I felt hopeless.  I can't begin to describe to you what it feels like to have doctors tell you there is nothing wrong.  To have those closest to you start to lose faith in you.  To see it in their eyes when you are telling them you still don't feel well.  To know in your gut there is something wrong, but to be told it is all in your head.

After doing some research, and looking for a new doctor, I found a cardiac electrophyisiologist in my area.  When she walked into her office, she shook my hand, introduced herself, and diagnosed me with a severe case of Atrial Tachycardia all within a 45 second span.  She explained that in all of our hearts, we have electric impulses that allow our heart to beat.  My heart had too many impulses in the upper chambers that were causing my heart to constantly beat too fast, and going into atrial fibrillation.  Who knew that the weight of eight years of sadness, fear, and hopelessness could be lifted off your shoulders by being told you had a heart condition?

We scheduled a cardiac catheter ablasion for June 13, 2001, where they would put four electrode catheters into my heart, through my femoral artery, and burn off some of these electrical impulses.  It took two ablations where they burned off over 20 of these electroical impulses, my heart stopping on the operating table, a massive bloodclot in my femoral artery, and an extended hospital stay to get to where I am today.  But I wear these memorial like battle scars.


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