Calendar Events Photography

Living With AVNRT

Anthea Van Wyk, Owner & Photographer, Calendar Events Photography

06 January 2022

1-year post-heart surgery on 06 January 2022

Today I celebrate 1 year of being AVNRT free!  Today I celebrate 1-year of a successful surgery!

AVNRT, SVT PAC’s…. what is this exactly?

Let me start off by explaining what this condition is…

” Atrioventricular Nodal Reentry Tachycardia (AVNRT) is a type of supraventricular tachycardia. People with AVNRT have episodes of abnormally fast heartbeats and starts and ends suddenly.”

I have had this condition all my life, not knowing what it was. It is hereditary, as my grandmother had this too. I honestly don’t know how she coped back in those days when medical technology wasn’t what it is now.

Living With AVNRT Atrioventricular Nodal Reentry Tachycardia South Africa Anthea Van Wyk

Up until September 2019, I was able to manage it. My heart rate would suddenly burst up to 198 beats per minute while resting and would not last long and jump back to normal. But in 2019, it wouldn’t go back down, even when I tried methods to convert on my own. I tried sleeping it off, and nothing. The longest episode I had was 17 hours straight.

Now imagine your heart wanting to beat out of your chest, your throat and chest getting tighter, struggling to catch your breath to the point where you’re not sure if you’re going to puke or pass out.

This was a regular occurrence for me. If I was not able to convert, I ended up in the ER, where they had to administer “Adenosine” through an injection. Now, THIS is the worst feeling I have ever felt! What it does, is it stops your heart and restarts it again. If it works the first time, it’s over pretty quickly. I’m honestly not exaggerating when I tell you that it feels like you’re dying when they administer it. The night ER staff at Roseacres Hospital in Primrose knew me well.

This was a rough time for me as I would be editing galleries to get them out in time when I would get an attack, then come home from the hospital at 2 am in the morning and still prepare for a cake smash for 9 am that morning.

I kept telling myself I was ok when I wasn’t. I didn’t realise how bad I was until now. And having to deal with difficult clients as well was not easy.

When I was at my worst a client got upset with me when I did not want to hold their baby, in my mind, I was worried I was going to drop the baby as I was shaky and not 100%. That night I landed up in hospital.

By December I couldn’t physically do much without needing to go to the hospital, it had gotten to the point where I had to cancel my last couple of shoots, giving them more than enough notice. And again, after explaining my condition, and offering to find them another photographer or giving them the option to wait until after my Heart operation, I still get told how disappointed they are and asked if there is no other way I could SQUEEZE them in before my heart operation. (YES…. those exact words were used)

On the 6th of January 2020, my heart surgery was booked at the Midstream Life Hospital. During a covid lockdown level 4, my husband was not allowed in the hospital which scared me more than anything. All these crazy thoughts going through my head, like what if I never get to see my family ever again. What if the last time my husband see’s me alive is walking through those hospital doors. But I must say, the staff at Midstream Life hospital are absolutely incredible and definitely helped with the anxiety.

The surgery took 3 hours, and I had to be awake the entire time as they worked their way through the main artery in my leg up to my heart, shocked and then burned my heart. This was incredibly intense, with a team of heart surgeons on standby in case I needed to go into open-heart surgery. I get emotional now even thinking about it.

The operation was a success and today I celebrate 1-year AVNRT free.

I honestly can’t explain how amazing I feel. What I learnt from that whole experience was that it is OK to say you don’t feel ok! I honestly didn’t realise how BAD I was until after the surgery, and I honestly can’t believe I put myself through all of that because as a typical mom does, we convince ourselves we are ok when we are not.

I now realise how bad anxiety and stress is to your body physically. When I was stressed, that was a trigger to send my AVNRT through the roof! So don’t allow yourself to sweat the small stuff. Walk away from stressful situations, or don’t allow yourself to have anxiety about things that you can’t control.

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