When the University of Notre Dame football team hits the gridiron on crisp autumn Saturdays, its fans’ hearts often beat rapidly with excitement. However, when the games are over, the heart fluttering and lightheaded feelings usually subside and life carries on as normal. Until recently, though, this was not the case for one of the blue and gold’s biggest supporters, Sister Victoria Forde, whose heart beat faster than it should even when she was not watching Fighting Irish in action.
She had a form of arrhythmia, called a tachycardia, that was causing episodes of irregular heartbeat. Because they often happened without warning, these episodes often put her life in jeopardy. While anti-arrhythmic medication reduced their frequency and kept them from being deadly, Sister Victoria never imagined being cured of them.
That is, until during a visit with her cardiologist, John Wilson MD, Sister Victoria was told she needed to undergo open heart surgery to treat a concurrent heart ailment. During his explanation of the procedure, Dr. Wilson suggested she consider having the Maze procedure as well. He explained that he and his colleagues at Good Samaritan Hospital collaborated to cure arrhythmias. The Maze procedure was just one method they employed.
Trusting Dr. Wilson’s judgment, Sister Victoria agreed to undergo surgery. For her, his referral was further evidence that he always had her best interests in mind. “I have been going to Dr. Wilson for years and I could not ask for a better doctor,” she notes. “He is so conscientious, and always follows up to make sure I get the treatment I need.” Moreover, knowing she would be having the surgery at Good Samaritan was reassuring. As a Cincinnati Sister of Charity, she knew of the hospital’s history and reputation for providing quality, compassionate care.
Good Samaritan’s reputation was deserved, feels Sister Victoria, and it was especially evident while she waited for her operation. “I went on a Friday and had surgery on a Monday,” she explains. “So the time between my admission to the hospital and surgery could have been nerve-racking, but was very comfortable. The staff was so respectful. Everyone was very attentive, and never made me feel as though I was imposing on them.”
As for her surgery and subsequent recovery, she could not have been happier. “The atmosphere of the recovery wing is quiet and conducive to recuperation,” she says. “I have been at other places that are not that way.” Even after she went home, through six weeks of cardiac rehab and regular checkups from both doctors, Sister Victoria was pleased by the level of service she received. “Everyone was extremely compassionate,” she exclaims. “I keep saying it, but it is important for me to say that.”
Today, more than a year since her surgery, Sister Victoria is back to her life in semi-retirement, working part time in the Sister of Charity’s archives in Delhi. She’s also back to cheering on the Fighting Irish. One part of life is different, however. She no longer worries about when she will have her next arrhythmic episode. They are gone. “I notice the difference,” she says. “And I feel good.”