An early morning visit to the Medical Research Centre at the Northern General. It is now two years from the completion of the mini-maze, so I am in for monitoring. Just a brief questionnaire, an ECG, fitting with a 48 hour halter monitor and a quick chat with the surgeon.
While waiting, I was chatting to the research nurse. The CEASE-AF study was to close in December and instead of the planned fifty, they had only found fifteen subjects (she didn’t like me using the term guinea pigs). Five were given two catheter ablations and another ten, including myself, were given the two-stage mini-maze. All five catheter ablation candidates had needed further intervention over the last year; I knew one of these patients, she had other previously unknown issues that came to light on her first ablation and didn’t go to the second ablation. All of the mini-maze patients had remained in NSR.
Talking to the surgeon, it seems that my previous year’s 48 hour monitor was good, with no indication of any problems. My level of ectopics is normal and nothing to be concerned about. I mentioned that I had lost fitness, and he suggested that there was no reason that I couldn’t push myself and get back to what I used to do. I described my typical pre-AF exertion, explained that I had stopped racing and abandoned my normal cycling group in favour of a slower one. I have now tried to restrict my HR to 165. He agreed that I was right to slow down, he confessed that his own heart rate had not been above 150 for many years.
After my first operation, I felt terrible and said that I would not recommend the mini-maze to anyone without evidence that the extra recovery was worth it. On the assumption that the results in Sheffield match those elsewhere, it seems possible that there might be value in it. It is likely that the full report will not be published for nearly a year, but I am looking forward to it.
I think I was very lucky to get the mini-maze. It all seems to have worked out very well. Not only am I currently free of arrhythmia, I am also being much more closely monitored than would otherwise be the case. I have one more session like today’s scheduled for next November and then another two years of being contacted by phone. Hopefully two more AF-free years.