Charlotte’s back at school without skipping a beat…

Charlotte Massey is always on the run. As an assistant principal at Anna Elementary School, Special Education Administrator and a mother of a senior and 8th grader of her own, she is all about the children. There’s no time to be down.

Charlotte had bouts of rapid heartbeat, but it didn’t plague her but once a year, and would only affect her for a few seconds. Soon it would be over and with Charlotte’s busy life, easily forgotten.

Charlotte’s Wake-Up Call

However, around the end of February, Charlotte’s heart sent her a literal wake-up call she would remember. She woke up at 3:00 AM in atrial fibrillation, a disease where the upper chambers of the heart misfire in a rapid fashion causing the heart to quiver. The heart is working very hard, with little efficiency at this point. “This fluttering lasted as long as 45 minutes, making me exhausted and as you can imagine, anxious,” said Charlotte.

She was admitted to the Emergency Department at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale. At the time, Dr. Mullins, a Prairie cardiology electrophysiologist from Springfield, who came to the area once a month, was in charge of her care. Often times, Afib can be managed with medications. So they decided to keep it in check using that method.

She Makes an Important Decision

In July, Prairie brought on Dr. Daniel Correa de Sa, a full-time, electrocardiologist to southern Illinois. Access to a specialist was never closer at hand. Having talked to Dr. Correa, and not a big fan of the medication, she decided to have a cardiac ablation before Christmas break. Her goal: to go totally off the medication.

According to Dr. Correa, options for dealing with a heart arrhythmia, is often a personal choice. Kind of like with joint surgery, people often put it off until they’ve had enough.

For Charlotte’s atrial fibrillation, the nerves that signal her heart chambers to beat became very disorganized, like a traffic jam. An ablation creates a “barricade” to prevent the signal from firing the wrong way. The ablation diverts the traffic jam. Charlotte was closely monitored following the procedure to make sure the signals in her heart were firing correctly.

Cardiac ablations are sometimes a work in progress. Following, Charlotte did have some additional rapid heartbeats, but nothing like the Afib. These symptoms could be controlled with medication for a time. However, since then, Charlotte has been able to ween off her medication. She has achieved her goal.

Today, she is not nearly as fatigued. Afib has not kept her from doing what she loves. Her full life is moving forward, without skipping a beat.