In October of 1994, Lawrence Desjarlais was happily living with his wife and working for his sons as a commercial carpenter in Hawaii. His diagnosis of atrial fibrillation came after he almost passed out while driving. "I felt funny and then it was like the power was slowly going out in the power plant. I had to pull the car over; I really thought I was going to pass out!"
For the next 13 years, Mr. Desjarlais dealt with his atrial fibrillation. He received a pacemaker, an internal defibrillator and three radiofrequency ablation procedures, but his atrial fibrillation always returned. "I could always tell when the atrial fibrillation was back—all my energy just left me," stated Mr. Dejarlais. After the third radiofrequency ablation, which was performed at a major medical center, he was told that he would have to learn to live with his atrial fibrillation; there was nothing more that they could do for him.
In February of 2005, Mr. Desjarlais came across an article in the Wall Street Journal about Patrick M. McCarthy, MD, and a new Maze procedure that he was performing. "I kept that article for two years until I finally picked up the phone and called the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute. I had to do something; I could barely push an empty grocery cart."
Dr. McCarthy told Mr. Desjarlais that there was about an 85 percent chance that he could help him. In May 2007, Mr. Desjarlais underwent a classic Maze procedure and has been free of atrial fibrillation since. "I praise the procedure and Dr. McCarthy up and down! My son-in-law and his twin brother both have atrial fibrillation and they may very well end up at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute to see Dr. McCarthy."
"Dr. McCarthy and Jane Kruse have both greatly improved our lives. I cannot say enough about Jane and the follow-up care she has provided to us," stated Mrs. Desjarlais. "She is so sharp." Jane Kruse RN, atrial fibrillation nurse coordinator, coordinates care for patients having procedures to treat atrial fibrillation in the inpatient and outpatient settings at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute. Jane has worked with cardiac arrhythmia patients for over 20 years.
Mr. Desjarlais, currently living in Livonia, Michigan, is an early riser. "At 76 years old, I get up at around 4:30 a.m. and walk between four to eight miles every day. My wife has even started to join me on the four-mile walks."