StoryCorps at SHC: Eugene and Dominique Watt

It made me realize I'm not alone - these people are all in my court.

Dominique Watt (DW): Well, when I was back in college, but I went in for like a random cough and they diagnosed me with this non-sustained vent- ventricular tachycardia. So when we were pregnant, I noticed that my heart rate was more intensified. While I was on maternity leave, I actually made an appointment with Dr. Paul Wang here with EP. And I knew him because I work in the Cath Angio Department.

So I was very excited to, to just see him as a patient. I ended up doing a cardiac MRI with contrast, and I remember telling you how nervous I was. And I, it was here at Stanford, just had such an accomplishment of actually doing the MRI, and it was really due to this technologist down there named Eric.

Eugene Watt (EW): And I remember you calling me pretty quickly after MRI and speaking very highly of Eric and how he was very accommodating to your business. And how he walked you through the process and helped guide you and made you feel very comfortable each step of the way.

DW: And then I remember Paul Wang messaging me on my health, "Your MRI showed possible signs of this thing called left ventricular non-compaction." And he said not to worry, he's going to get me in with Dr. Euan Ashley here at Stanford. So we met with Dr. Ashley a few days before the nurse actually called me and did a pre-visit type phone call. I remember the first thing she asked me was, "So how do you feel after this diagnosis?"

That, at that moment is when I just, it kind of hit me, like I have a crazy diagnosis and I don't know how I feel about it. And I remember you kind of telling me, like, why are they even asking about your quality of life? What does that mean? Could progress to a pretty serious thing. So we need to decide like what we want to do. And I remember that kind of shocked you and scared you. And then now I have to be the calming person, but it was kind of like, I think we were reassuring each other, but not really fully believing in ourselves.

EW: You know, you, you get the joy of having a son and then you start to see these strange irregularities with her heart condition. Again, it's this, this high of all these emotions and happiness of having a child, then all of a sudden you're thrust into this, uh, I guess life-threatening condition. You have to change your mindset and have to think about what does this really mean. And just all those emotions boiling up and going into that one appointment. And to leave that appointment feeling reassured and calm, uh, was amazing for, for me at least, and I think for the family. All the while you have, you know, I have my son in my hands and I keep thinking to myself, what if, what if she's not here? What do I do now?

DW: I would need an automatic internal cardio defibrillator built a tremendous trust with my coworkers. I mean, they've seen me through a lot of different health conditions and we just become vulnerable with each other.

EW: And which floor is that, that you work on?

DW: Cath Angio Pre-Procedure and Recovery. CAPPR (laughing)

EW: So essentially during your procedure, you'd be taken care of by your own staff.

DW: My own staff that I manage on my floor.

EW: Got it. So during the day of the first procedure.

DW: So I get to the recovery room where I would spend the night. Yeah, unfortunately the subcutaneous implant didn't work, when they did defibrillator functioning test. They induce you and they put you into V-fib and I couldn't get out of it. So they had to shock me which was scary to find out too. And I knew I would have to do this all over again, which meant more of an inconvenience for people. And I had to take more time off. I was worried about how that meant work.

So I was also kind of bummed because that meant the transvenous one, which I know is, is a lot more accurate, but I was just worried about what that meant for our lifestyle, because we have a one-year-old, soon to be one-year-old. And you know, you can't lift your arm for six weeks. Can't carry anything over 10 pounds. Our kid is like 24 pounds.

DW: So then flash forward, the new procedure date. They kind of did a timeout before they went into the defibrillator function tests, just because of what happened last time, if I did need to be coded. So they took the extra steps to make sure everyone was on the same page, and ready to go if we had another failure. And when I successfully was defibrillated by my own internal device, people cheered in the room.

EW: Yeah.

DW: And I was just like, you guys are incredible. Like, how could you, the fact that you care that much, and that you're cheering, made me real- it made me realize that, yeah, I'm not alone, like these people are all in my court.

EW: And it left me with a sense of calm that I could go home that night with my son and know that she'd be fine, I don't have to stay there and watch over her. (laughs)

DW: Yeah.

EW: And we can get good sleep. I can't speak highly enough of the staff. And that's everybody from the moment you walk in the door, when you're greeted, to all of the nurses, to the physicians, everyone seems to truly care about your interest and your wellbeing. And you feel like an actual patient and they care about you and your family.

DW: There is a reason that we live across the country from all of our family and friends. And if you believe in God or whoever you believe in, but there's a reason that we are here.

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