HER Fam­ily

Heart pa­tient’'s ex­pe­ri­ence leads her to pur­sue nurs­ing

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Contents - Story by Lindsey Wells, pho­tog­ra­phy by Grace Brown

A t 18 years of age, Michelle Nagode, now 28, be­gan ex­pe­ri­enc­ing symp­toms in­clud­ing rapid heart­beat and faint­ing spells that were trig­gered by things like heat and anx­i­ety. This sparked a se­ries of hos­pi­tal trips, doc­tor vis­its, and mis­di­ag­noses be­fore she was fi­nally di­ag­nosed with Wolff-Parkin­son-White syn­drome, a con­di­tion in which an ex­tra elec­tri­cal path­way in the heart causes a rapid heart­beat.

Nor­mally, elec­tri­cal sig­nals fol­low a cer­tain path­way through the heart which helps the heart to beat reg­u­larly and pre­vents it from hav­ing ex­tra beats or beat­ing too soon. In those with WPW syn­drome, some of the heart’s elec­tri­cal sig­nals go down an ex­tra path­way, caus­ing symp­toms in­clud­ing ab­nor­mally fast heart­beat, pal­pi­ta­tions, short­ness of breath, dizzi­ness, and faint­ing.

Hav­ing been adopted, Nagode has no knowl­edge of her med­i­cal his­tory but said WPW is con­gen­i­tal 99 per­cent of the time.

“The ma­jor­ity of peo­ple, when they have WPW pat­tern, it’s be­nign, so they don’t have any symp­toms and they just live with it. Most peo­ple don’t even know they have it. But WPW syn­drome is where it can cause se­ri­ous tachy­car­dia — faint­ing. In my case my heart rate would sky­rocket. It’d go above 200 and my blood pres­sure would just drop — it’s al­most like my body would re­set it­self and I’d pass out,” Nagode said.

When the faint­ing spells be­gan to worsen, Nagode saw sev­eral car­di­ol­o­gists and no one seemed to know what was caus­ing the prob­lem. She fi­nally ended up at Bap­tist Health Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Lit­tle Rock where her doc­tor or­dered a car­diac elec­tro­phys­i­ol­ogy study, a min­i­mally in­va­sive pro­ce­dure that tests the elec­tri­cal con­duc­tion sys­tem of the heart to as­sess the elec­tri­cal ac­tiv­ity and con­duc­tion path­ways of the heart.

“They went in and saw that I had this ac­ces­sory path­way and then what they did was called an ab­la­tion, where they ac­tu­ally cau­ter­ized that ex­tra path­way and at­tempted to close it up. That in it­self fixes a lot of prob­lems. It’s a catheter ab­la­tion so they go in through the groin area,” she said.

The ab­la­tion was suc­cess­ful and Nagode has not fainted since the pro­ce­dure

in 2014, though she does still have some un­der­ly­ing is­sues.

“It was a huge re­lief,” she said. “But, what they ex­plained to me is, be­cause it went on for so long, I have atrial fib­ril­la­tion and I have su­per-ven­tric­u­lar tachy­car­dia, both of which cause ex­tremely high heart rates. I have trou­ble ex­er­cis­ing. I’ve tried to lose weight and it’s very hard be­cause I can’t do any sort of car­dio.”

Nagode said heat is still a trig­ger and she has to be care­ful about overex­ert­ing and over­heat­ing her­self.

“If I take a hot bath — which is a lit­tle sad be­cause I love hot baths — I’ll feel sick to my stom­ach. It’s not your typ­i­cal nau­sea feel­ing; it’s al­most in your stom­ach and in your head. You just feel off. I’ll flush re­ally bad and I’ll be able to feel all of my pulses be­cause my heart beats so hard. With that ex­tra path­way, your heart doesn’t pump the blood the way it’s sup­posed to. My hands will go numb, my fin­ger­nails will turn blue and my heart rate will go up, some­times above 200. A nor­mal rest­ing heart rate is be­tween 60-80,” she said.

Hik­ing is an­other ac­tiv­ity that Nagode said she en­joys. She is still able to do some phys­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties but has to re­mem­ber what her lim­its are and take reg­u­lar rest stops. She also takes a high-dose beta blocker daily and must al­ways re­mem­ber to bring her med­i­ca­tion with her when she leaves home, as she is in­structed to take it as needed on top of her reg­u­lar dose.

Smok­ing and drink­ing al­co­hol are also trig­gers.

“If for some rea­son I don’t take my medicine with me or if I don’t pace my­self, if I go a lit­tle over­board, it is very no­tice­able and I will have those dizzy sen­sa­tions and feel like I’m go­ing to pass out,” she added.

Nagode is cur­rently em­ployed at Melinda’s Cof­fee Cor­ner & Cafe in Hot Springs Vil­lage and plans to re­turn for her third se­mes­ter of nurs­ing school in the fall.

She cred­its her in­ter­est in be­com­ing a nurse to the nurse that was present in the room with her dur­ing her car­diac ab­la­tion in 2014.

“I had to be awake for the whole pro­ce­dure so it was ter­ri­fy­ing. They use ra­di­a­tion, so the car­di­ol­o­gist stands be­hind a lead shield and he has to ma­nip­u­late by watch­ing a screen, and then I’m cov­ered in lead pads. The whole thing is just ter­ri­fy­ing. This one nurse was just stand­ing be­hind me hold­ing my head and I was just cry­ing the whole time. All she did was wipe away my tears and talk to me the whole time, and that’s when I said, ‘That’s what I want to do.’ I want to be that per­son who is go­ing to calm a pa­tient down, who

is go­ing to be their ad­vo­cate, who is go­ing to metaphor­i­cally hold their hand through­out the whole process,” she said.

For those that, like Nagode, may have a con­di­tion that causes their heart rate to speed up, she sug­gests per­form­ing va­gal ma­neu­vers as a way to tem­po­rar­ily slow a heart rate down right away. Some of these in­clude hold­ing your breath and ex­ert­ing down­ward pres­sure on your body. An­other type is the cold water treat­ment, which con­sists of im­mers­ing your face in icy cold water for sev­eral sec­onds or plac­ing a bag of ice over your face for 15 sec­onds.

“The scari­est thing about it for me is that chance for sud­den car­diac death, go­ing into car­diac ar­rest. Ever since I found that out, that’s been in the back of my mind. It’s hap­pened — it’s rare, but it hap- pens, and when­ever my heart gets re­ally fast I don’t make it any bet­ter be­cause I start hav­ing anx­i­ety,” she said. “If peo­ple think that they might have some­thing like this, bet- ter safe than sorry every time. You don’t have to get an ab­la­tion to find out if you have this. You can get an EKG and you can get an elec­tro­phys­i­ol­o­gist to study it and to say, ‘Hey, it looks like you’ve got this so let’s take an­other look.’”

When she isn’t work­ing, Nagode en­joys spend­ing time with her son, Spencer, 9.

“... I want to be that per­son who is go­ing to calm a pa­tient down, who is go­ing to be their ad­vo­cate, who is go­ing to metaphor­i­cally hold their hand through­out the whole process.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.