It’s been a while since I’ve written anything lately – on my books, newsletter or even Facebook postings.

 My wife says she thinks I’m depressed. She’s probably right. She usually is.
Last December, while we were on our cruise from Los Angeles to Santiago, my heart went out of rhythm. For those of you reading this who may not have been aware, I suffer from a condition called atrial fibrillation. This means that my heart sometimes beats in an irregular fashion.
I was first diagnosed with a-fib in 2006 while RVing in Alaska. In 2008 I had an ablation procedure performed in Georgia in which they cauterized where my pulmonary vein enters my heart since the “short circuit” was occurring in that area. I’ve been taking anti-arrhythmia medication since then. The combination of the procedure and the medication kept my heart operating normally. Up until last December that is.
My heart hasn’t been in normal sinus rhythm for the past three months. It’s not necessarily life threatening. It’s definitely inconvenient, though, because it means my oxygen supply is erratic and I tire easily doing normal things like walking.
All anti-arrhythmia medications eventually lose their ability to regulate sinus rhythm. I guess mine just happened to outlive its usefulness in December. Bummer. Now I have to find other options to get my heart back into normal rhythm. Again.
My cardiologist here in Cuenca suggested having an AV node ablation and a pacemaker installed. Essentially that means that my heart, due to the ablation, is no longer capable of regulating its own rhythm and must rely on a pacemaker.
I view this as a solution of last resort. I want to explore other less drastic options first. I won’t bore you with the details of what those options are right now.
The long and short of it is I haven’t had my normal energy level for some time and am unable to be as active as I’d like. I still try to walk a fair amount but I tire easily when I do.
This isn’t at all what I envisioned when I thought about entering my golden years. I’ve now redefined this period of my life as the tarnished brass years.
I’ve been putting off making a decision about what to do for a while and instead just suffered through it. Like I said, my wife calls it being depressed.
I received a wake up call last Monday that let me know I can no longer just sit and wait to see what happens.
I was standing in the lobby of the Zahir 360 Hotel here in Cuenca talking with a lady named Lynne about the Cuenca International Writers Conference we were attending. She said I got a funny look on my face for a moment and then I just fell over backwards.
I was only unconscious for about 20-30 seconds. When I came to I was disoriented, my skin was chalk white, I was sweating, my vision was blurry and I was slurring my words a bit. They sat me down on a nearby couch and summoned my wife. Within a matter of minutes most of those symptoms had disappeared.
The hotel van drove Susan and me to the emergency room at a nearby hospital where I was admitted for observation and treatment. They gave me an IV drip of a saline solution, performed an EKG, drew blood, and consulted my cardiologist.

My arm was pretty banged up

An Ecuadorian friend of mine came to the hospital to assist with any translation issues. After a few hours I was released and we took a taxi back to the hotel. I spent the balance of the evening in my room. I was the same as I had been before the episode, although a lot more shaken. Susan even more so than me.
I first thought this was just another manifestation of my a-fib. I had fainted once previously back in 2008 before my ablation. This time I believe I suffered a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) also known as a mini-stroke.
Most strokes (including TIAs) occur when a blood clot or plaque buildup cause a carotid artery to become obstructed and interrupt the flow of blood to the brain. There is also a type that is more rare called a low-flow stroke. It occurs when a sudden major drop in blood pressure occurs and the blood supply doesn’t reach the brain. I think the latter is what happened to me although I’m not exactly sure what triggered it. Regardless of which type occurs, it’s pretty serious stuff.
Like I said, it’s a wake up call and I’m taking it as such.
I’ll meet with my cardiologist this week and have an ultrasound done on my arteries to insure it isn’t a buildup of plaque or a clot. Apparently they can tell the cause by doing the necessary tests.
In addition to this experience getting me thinking again, it also got me back writing. Even if it is only what you are reading so far.
I’m only a few chapters away from completing Healing Hayley, the second book in my new series called The Lassiters. Guarding Genny, the first book, is already completed and awaiting publishing.
I’ll keep you posted on what I find out about my health. In the interim I intend to get busy writing again.
A couple more comments about everything that transpired.
Lynne told me afterwards she’s had a lifelong fantasy about a man falling at her feet. This, however, wasn’t exactly what she had envisioned.
The total bill for my three hours of treatment (emergency room personnel, IV, EKG, blood work, etc.) here in Cuenca was $133 and change. That’s without applying any insurance. My ablation procedure back in Georgia, which required a three-day stay in the hospital while they adjusted my anti-arrhythmia medication, was over $186,000.

Oh, and Susan was playing around once she knew I wasn’t going to die and took her very first selfie. I wasn’t overly thrilled, but you know, anything to keep marital tranquility!!

 Susan taking her first selfie

Maybe somehow this will all become fodder to be used in a forthcoming book. Who knows? Until then it is simply another day in the life of author J. Michael Herron.
As always, thanks for your support.

Until next time…

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