“No heart procedure is routine,” said Amanda Reynolds, 54, of Logan. “To have complete trust in a healthcare team when they are working on such a vital organ, that speaks volumes about the kind of care Fairfield Medical Center provides.”
When Amanda’s heart began racing in May 2021, she initially thought it was because of a sweet Mother’s Day surprise. As she and her husband pulled into their driveway, Amanda saw a brand-new apple tree waiting on the porch – and her heart rate skyrocketed.
“I felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest,” Amanda said. “It seems silly now, but at the time, I really thought it was just excitement. I wasn’t worried until I realized my heart wasn’t slowing down.”
This episode – and the trip to her local emergency department – was the first of many for Amanda. With recurring episodes of an erratic and racing heart, she was eventually diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia, or SVT. In some cases, this type of abnormal heart rhythm, or arrhythmia, might come and go without any symptoms; for others, it can take a negative toll on their quality of life.
“Every single day, multiple times a day, I was having hourlong episodes where my heart rate would shoot up to 160 or 180 beats per minute, like I was running a marathon,” Amanda said. “I felt fatigued all the time. I had no energy. Even walking up the stairs was a chore for me, and I’m an active person.”
As the special events coordinator at The Trout Club, a Newark-based resort and golf club, Amanda is on the go at all hours of the day. From curating the perfect wedding experience for new brides to organizing corporate retreats and class reunions, it’s a position that requires stamina and agility. Most of all, however, Amanda wanted to keep up with her active family.
“I have three kids and seven grandbabies, and they are my motivation to stay healthy,” Amanda said. “I love them with all my heart, and I want to be involved and present in their lives. I want to be able to play with them, cheer them on and celebrate them for years to come.”
This determination helped drive Amanda on her journey back to health. When she was diagnosed with SVT, Amanda worked closely with her primary care provider to manage the condition with medications. Unfortunately, she did not find relief. While some of the prescriptions helped her heart, they worsened her asthma. When she began carrying an inhaler with her, Amanda and her doctor decided it was time to explore a more permanent solution with cardiologist Michael Reinig, DO, at Fairfield Healthcare Professionals Cardiology.
While excited to protect her active lifestyle and restore her quality of life at Fairfield Medical Center, Amanda’s new treatment path was complicated by a severe anxiety disorder. At her first appointment with FHP Cardiology, the closed-door exam room triggered a specific condition known as cleithrophobia, or a fear of being trapped. The situation made it impossible for Amanda to focus on the conversation in front of her.
“I should have spoken up, but I didn’t,” Amanda said. “I am a very logical person, but I was caught in that place of irrational panic. When I called the office to explain what happened, they graciously scheduled a follow-up appointment. I came back armed with a list of questions, and Dr. Reinig answered each of them with understanding and compassion.”
After this second discussion, the pair planned to move forward with an electrophysiology study and ablation to eliminate the source of Amanda’s abnormal heart rhythm altogether. During this complex procedure, Fairfield Medical Center’s specialized team uses advanced technology to study the electrical currents of the
heart, pinpoint the cause of the erratic rhythm and then apply extremely cold or hot temperatures to form scar tissue, blocking the signal and restoring the heart’s normal function.
With her sights set on a solution, Amanda took steps throughout the process to ensure her anxiety would not prevent her from putting her health first. This included meeting with cardiologist Alexander Hattoum, MD, prior to the procedure to ease her fears and communicate her needs.
“I can’t put into words how incredible my experience at Fairfield Medical Center was,” Amanda said. “Dr. Hattoum took the time to help me feel calm and confident, and every single person I met that day made me feel seen, cared for and understood. I genuinely believe that without this hospital and its wonderful staff, I would still be living with that arrhythmia.”
Dr. Hattoum said that Amanda’s decision to be transparent about her anxiety allowed him and his team to provide her with more individualized care, including regular check-ins before and during her procedure. Amanda’s intervention was performed with sedation only, which means she remained alert the entire time.
“Our electrophysiology nurses and technologists played a huge role in helping Amanda through this procedure, and I’m proud to be part of such a compassionate team,” Dr. Hattoum said. “Amanda’s specific arrhythmia was less common than most, but we were able to treat it in an environment that made her feel comfortable, preventing potentially dangerous complications down the road.”
Within a week of her April 2023 procedure, Amanda found herself with more energy and peace of mind than she had felt in years. While she initially took her return to work slowly, she soon was operating at full-speed for event season. By May, Amanda found herself touting two important titles at The Trout Club: event coordinator and mother of the bride.
“My job is always filled with so much joy, but my daughter’s wedding was incredibly special,” Amanda said. “Coordinating any wedding is easily a 15-hour day, and on top of that, I danced all night with my family. That meant so much to me, because before my procedure, I wouldn’t have been able to get through a single song.”
In a heartwarming moment, Amanda’s motivation was on full display as she celebrated with her loved ones at the same venue where she makes so many dreams come true. Looking back, she has found a renewed sense of confidence in her ability to navigate the world of healthcare despite her anxiety, and Amanda encourages anyone dealing with similar circumstances to find a healthcare team that makes them feel safe and accepted.
“I have never had an experience like the one I found at Fairfield Medical Center,” Amanda said. “I never felt like a number, I never felt like a burden, and the care was absolutely customized to my needs. I am forever grateful for the wonderful team that helped me get where I am today.”