I love speed. I love driving fast. And I love a good thrill. My whole life, I’ve enjoyed driving fast and racing cars, and I was not interested in slowing down. I was even a police officer at one time. But I started having this thing a few years ago where my heart would flutter at night. When I was younger, I wouldn’t have thought anything of it. But now that I’m retired, I’m thinking I should start taking a little better care of myself.
I had already had one heart attack so I knew enough to take it serious. I went to my local doctor and he called it atrial fibrillation, but I just thought of it as a flutter. Turns out it is a really serious thing and I was at risk for sudden cardiac death. I thought a pacemaker might help, but they told me it wouldn’t. I wasn’t a candidate for that, and I began to wonder what my options might be.
That’s when I decided to start seeing a cardiologist at UVA. I met this one doctor, Dr. Battle, and he told me within about 15 minutes of meeting with him that I was a perfect candidate for an ICD. He said it works like a pacemaker in a way, only it doesn’t send out an electrical charge all the time, but just when it senses your heart needs it. All that worry. All those other appointments. And this UVA doctor was able to tell me in just a few minutes what would change my life. You bet I was relieved.
I said let’s do it, and we got a date for a surgery settled. I had the procedure in their hybrid operating room and it was real simple. I checked in to the hospital Tuesday, had the surgery Wednesday and went home Thursday. My wife couldn’t believe I was coming home so soon.
What was great was that I started feeling better almost right away. My energy level was up. I could go back to doing things I wanted to do, like racing. I’ve done several of the racing experiences in actual stock cars. It’s the thrill of my life. Scares the wife to death, though. I keep telling her, “Sure I’ll quit racing cars, just as soon as you go skydiving with me.” (That’s not going to happen.)
I feel like I owe it all to UVA. They seemed to know just what I needed and did the surgery for me and now I feel great. I think anybody with a heart problem ought to talk with them.