Paul Zoll, MD: Originator of Modern Electrocardiac Therapy – A Biography by Stafford Cohen, MD, BIDMC

Nice to get a little history lesson, I wouldn’t be here today without this pioneer in Cardiac medicine.

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Paul Zoll, MD: Originator of Modern Electrocardiac Therapy – A Biography by Stafford Cohen, MD, BIDMC

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

SOURCE

http://www.bidmc.org/Centers-and-Departments/Departments/Cardiovascular-Institute/CVI-Newsletter/StaffordCohen.aspx#sthash.lAe3b9Kk.dpuf

Paul Zoll: The Doctor Who Defied Sudden Cardiac Death

An Interview with Stafford Cohen, MD

 

Stafford Cohen, MD, a Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center cardiologist who retired in 2009, retains the intellectual curiosity and the human touch that Stafford Cohen, MD, with his book about Dr. Paul Zollcharacterized his 48-year career in cardiology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Over the years, Cohen had been intrigued by — and for a time shared an office with — Paul Zoll, MD, a brilliant yet controversial fellow cardiologist whose scientific work included numerous revolutionary breakthroughs that helped prevent sudden cardiac death.

Cohen, Honorary Senior Physician at the CardioVascular Institute, recently published a no-holds-barred biography, Paul Zoll, MD: The Pioneer Whose Discoveries Prevent Sudden DeathHeartmail recently spoke with Cohen about…

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So, Wednesday it is then.

I got the call, that call I have been anxiously awaiting for the past couple of weeks.  The call about the appointment where they let me know if they will put me on the heart transplant list or if they will continue to monitor the situation I have been in for the last two and a half years, you know, the one where my heart stops out of the blue.

 

if you have been following along, you know that it has harshly affected my quality of life.  I can’t work, I can’t drive, I can’t leave the area, all I can do is wait and wonder when my device, meant to keep me from dying will have to jump into action to save me again.  It really has been hard to reconcile, all that has been going on, even though you would think by now I would be used to it.  I’m not.  Everywhere I go, everything I do, I have this niggling thought in the back of my mind, always wondering if this is the day my heart will go crazy and my device will give me another shock.  It was this very thing that has caused me to consider a heart transplant, in the end, even though I have been told by many doctors that I am replacing one disease with another, I feel that getting this transplant will be more predictable and will give me back my life.  I don’t want to be afraid of being alone, or of  going to sleep, or of being at the gym or meeting up my friends for dinner and it keeps me from doing so much.  I never thought in a million years that I would have to consider a heart transplant, me the organ donor, figuring the about the only thing I would have to give to someone was my heart.  WRONG!  DAMN THIS ARRHYTHMIA!!!

 

They left a message and when I saw who had called, I sort of knew what it was for, I’ve been jumping through hoops for the past weeks, being poked and prodded to determine my current state of health.  The fact that they decided to go through with the assessment was encouraging, but now it all comes down to a “committee” of people who will decide my fate, people my husband and I have been meeting with regularly.  There will be a cardiologist,  a psychologist, a heart surgeon, a social worker, and even an ethics person, they will talk about my case and debate whether or not this is the right time for this transplant to happen based on all of the information the have been gathering. I’m sure it will be a difficult decision based on the fact that I am outside the box when it comes to this sort of procedure. Every person being considered for transplant goes through this and I totally understand why this needs to be done, getting a new heart is a VERY precious gift, they want to make sure that the person receiving it has the best chance of long term survival.

 

Knowing it will only be a few more days has left me an emotional wreck, I’m happy, sad, anxious, terrified, relieved, impatient and excited all rolled into one.  I am trying hard not to have any expectations about what the answer will be and not to get too far ahead of myself, it’s hard considering all I have been through.  I can’t even begin at this point to think about the actual surgery and recovery afterwards, it’s just too overwhelming and until I know, it’s something I needn’t worry about,  I will try to remain calm until my appointment next week.

 

So, Wednesday it is then.  Wish me luck!

The waiting is the hardest part….

My first appointment with the Pre-Heart Transplant Clinic was August 11, 2014, and at that time, the decision was made to go ahead with an assessment of my health to see if this was the appropriate time to do a transplant.  With the flurry of tests and such, the time frame was 4-6 weeks, it’s now been almost 8 but it looks like the decision may be coming soon.   I have one more appointment on October 8 that will investigate further something that was found in the test results, no one really anticipates that it is anything to worry about, they just want to be sure that all is well before proceeding.  It definitely makes me feel better to know that they are doing their due diligence when it comes to potential pot holes but waiting is hard yo.

 

It’s funny cause I say waiting is hard but it’s not like it’s something new for me.  For the last two and a half years I have been waiting for many things.  I have been waiting for another shock, I have been waiting for a diagnosis, I have been waiting for some new treatment that would make this all stop, so I’m not sure why waiting for this decision is harder than any of the other waiting I have been doing. I guess because it will have such a huge impact on my life either way.

 

I have a lot of anxiety around will they say yes, will they say no let’s wait.  Then I start thinking about having the surgery,  not having the surgery.  Then next it’s about my device, I’ve grown so used to it being there, will I be able to cope without it?  Will a new heart really give me the freedom back that I have lost?  Will it be more predictable?  Questions I don’t have the answers to that only a crystal ball could begin to shed light on.  It’s hard being anxious and afraid all the time, it really takes a lot of energy to constantly fight back at thoughts that have legitimate reasons for being there, big scary thoughts that are hard to argue with.  I actually had to start seeing someone to help me manage my anxiety, to help me be more aware of the bad thoughts I have that can tailspin me into a deep depression, to catch them before I get too far down and to deal with them. It’s hard being vigilant against your thoughts and it’s exhausting.  Lately I have had an increase in nightmares, they are almost a constant thing, dark, bloody, violent dreams that wake me up shaking, my heart racing and scared out of my wits.  Often, my husband will tell me that I was thrashing about in the night as if I was fighting some sort of battle while sleeping, I often wake up dog tired, all of this weighs on my mind so heavily.

 

Through all of this I have found that meditation,  relaxation and walks in nature have helped me cope quite a bit and as corny as it may sound, I try to take it one day at a time and not get too far ahead of myself.  I  can absolutely drive myself crazy if I let these thoughts and fears run my life because no matter what the decision is, I go back to waiting for the call that they have a donor. or waiting for the day my device has to save my life again.  Thankfully I have the loving support of a partner that listens to me, hugs me and assures me he is there for me.  Also I know that I just  have to trust that decisions are made in my best interest,  that everything happens for a reason and that everything will work out as it should.

 

And to live by my new motto…

It does not matter how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get up. -Vince Lombardi