At 58, Mike Pulzer was starting to slow down, but didn’t know why. “I used to stay up until midnight and wake up at 6am and be fine,” Pulzer says. “Then all of the sudden by 4pm I was done for the day, exhausted.”
The normally energetic retirement community executive noticed he was also losing his appetite. Within a six month period in 2011, Pelzer went from 172 to 137 pounds. He knew something was wrong. Unable to get clear answers from his primary care physician and a recent treadmill test a nurse called “not normal, but not abnormal”, Pelzer turned to the Internet and found Oklahoma Heart Institute.
“I have had premature ventricular contractions since my 20s,” says Pelzer. “I knew my rhythm was not right.”
Pelzer picked up the phone and referred himself to a cardiologist. His first appointment was with Dr. Edward Martin. With his treadmill results in hand, the former paramedic looked to Dr. Martin for a better explanation of what was going on with his heart.
“He walks in with his nurse, introduces his nurse and sits down face to face,” Pelzer recalls of his first appointment with Dr. Martin at Oklahoma Heart Institute. “He spent an hour and 25 minutes uninterrupted with me. That just floored me.”
Dr. Martin, Pelzer says, listened to his medical history and current symptoms and then discussed a recommendation for what to do next. Together, they agreed a cardiac catheterization would be the best course to take to more accurately understand what was going on with Pelzer’s heart rhythm. Pelzer received a call the day after his cardiac catheterization with the results and a recommendation to see cardiac electrophysiologist, Dr. Craig Cameron at Pelzer’s first availability. Pelzer arrived the next day for his 9am appointment with Dr. Cameron.
“He spent nearly another hour with me and said he had identified the problem,” Pelzer says. Dr. Cameron explained the diagnosis, peripheral vascular insufficiency or inefficient blood flow. With a pulse too slow to treat with medication, two options remained: a pacemaker or ablation. Pelzer says he thought ablation would be the best solution, but wanted Dr. Cameron’s vote of confidence.
After explaining the risks, Pelzer asked Dr. Cameron if he would recommend the same procedure to his father. “I told him to look at me and say, ‘Dad if I were you I would do the ablation,’” Pelzer recalls. “He did and I said, ‘Let’s do it.’”
Three weeks later, Dr. Cameron walks into Pelzer’s room before the scheduled ablation. With new technology available, Dr. Cameron tells Pelzer he is a good candidate for a cryoballoon ablation to treat his chronic Atrial Fibrillation. The procedure is successful and more than a year later, Pelzer says he has had no rhythm episodes.
Within a week Pelzer returns to work where co-workers notice a marked difference in his appearance. “They said, ‘Your color looks so much better,’” Pelzer says. “I can honestly say you guys gave me my life back, my quality of life back. I was miserable.”
Today, Pelzer takes on the challenges of managing the 26 acre retirement village in stride and proudly notes he is the only one in his neighborhood without a riding lawn-mower. He still pushes. Pelzer’s endurance and appetite are back. “I feel good,” he says confidently.
“I had an outstanding experience with everyone at Hillcrest and in recovery,” Pelzer shares of his post-ablation experience. “It was far beyond my expectations.”