“The day before Labor Day weekend I was playing basketball with some teachers and I felt really light headed and almost passed out. So I rested, had some food and water, then I went back in, played a little bit more and almost passed out again.”
Although startled by the sudden issue, Bird dismissed the incident and decided to play some volleyball.
“I got some more food and water, and then went up to Tri-city Christian because it was the alumni volleyball game and my daughter was playing and she wanted me to play. So I started playing volleyball after almost passing out twice. When I wasn’t even doing much, I bent down to pick up the ball and I almost passed out again.”
Because Bird had always considered himself a rather healthy man, he again dismissed the incidents, but his wife wanted to be more cautious.
“My wife wanted me to go to the hospital that day, but we went the next morning to Urgent Care and they did an EKG and my heart was way out of rhythm,” Bird said. “They thought I was having a heart attack so [like] five paramedics came and they put me on a gurney and put me in the ambulance and we went over to Palomar. They asked me if my heart was hurting and I was in no pain at all.”
Once at the hospital the doctors were able to diagnose Bird with what’s called an atrial flutter; an abnormal heart rhythm that occurs in the atria of the heart.
“It wasn’t pumping enough blood, so that was why I was getting lightheaded. Because it was hard to pump blood with the way it was beating.”
Because this is a relatively common diagnosis, doctors were able to quickly prepare Bird for a procedure to correct the problem.
“They put me on heart rate medication and blood thinners for a month, just to get my body ready for a procedure which is called a radio frequency ablation.”
A radiofrequency ablation is when the dysfunctional tissue in the heart is ablated or burned using heat generated from a high frequency alternating current. Since the procedure is pretty common, everything went well and Bird was on his way to recovery.
“They did an EKG right after that and everything was going pretty good, but I was still pretty lightheaded and having some chest pain for a couple days so I went back to the hospital and they did a bunch of tests and they said everything looked great and those were just some effects from the anesthesia and my heart hurts because they burned it,” Bird said. “I’ve slowly been feeling better and better every day. The last time I exercised was that Friday before Labor Day then I shot some baskets over the weekend, and playing volleyball on Saturday was really fun.”
Besides the chaos of having to go to the hospital, what stood out to Bird the most was the support of his peers.
“One of the main things is the love and the prayers that I got from people at church and friends from school, because I sent out an email, saying what was going on and I think I got like 50 responses from teachers and staff here, sending their love and prayers. It was really encouraging because you hear about what a great place Mt. Carmel is. But when you see it acted out and just see the love and see the people caring, it’s just really encouraging.” Bird said.
With the life changing event behind him, Bird is optimistic about his road to recovery.
“I’m still in a 49 year old body plus I haven’t done any exercise in weeks so I thought I’d feel great playing volleyball, but I’m out of shape,” Bird said. “As I continue to exercise I’ll be good, but I don’t think it’ll be any different, I’ll still be kind of out of shape but it’s fun to at least be able to play again.”