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The Heart And The Holidays

The human heart resides in a lighltless 98.6-degree chest cavity. Its contracting muscles are further cushioned by the well-lubricated glistening smooth pericardial sac. One wouldn’t think that the heart could sense the time of year. The heart’s rhythm should remain independent of the holiday season. But then there is December in the EP lab. They are as busy as the malls.

Is it the depressing weather? Or the short days? Or a post-Thanksgiving hangover? It’s hard to say, but every year for as many as I can remember, the EP lab rocks in November and December. And with the advent of deductible health plans, this holiday phenomenon has only intensified.

The I-90 of the heart, the AV node, seems to give out more in the holidays. I’ll never forget the Saturday in December many years ago when I did five “urgent” pacemakers — and neither will the pacemaker rep.

This cyclicality is mysterious, like a lot of other heart rhythm maladies. The science-based folks may think such thinking is gibberish, and it may very well be. But when you hear the high-pitched tone of the RF-generator in your head as you fall off to sleep, you know it”s been a long week inside the lead walls.

I don’t mind it though. After years of experience, you learn to expect it. And being busy in the lab means seeing more of the beautiful images of an arrhythmia terminating while delivering watts through a catheter tip. More of:

“Come on, here…”

“That’s it.” 

 ”Got it.” 

 ”It’s gone.” 

These sensations are just like the thrill of winning a bike race. Only unlike a local bike race, curing a heart rhythm problem really matters. Fortunately, I “win” a lot more in the EP lab than on the bike. Each of these victories makes the forms, the policies, the protocols, and even educating the cubicle doctors at insurance companies worth it.

JMM

*This blog post was originally published at Dr John M*


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