Robert: “A Simply Enjoyable Life.”
Robert Millinger lives a simple life surrounded by his wife, children, grandchildren and over one hundred acres of beautiful Ohio farmland. As a factory worker and farmer, he enjoyed making his living—until he began to feel exhausted every day. The then 59 year-old Millinger had always been strong and healthy, but he could not understand why he was suddenly worn out from the moment he awoke in the morning until going to bed at night. Lying in bed each night, Millinger could tell that something was wrong. “As my head rested on the pillow, I could hear and feel my heart racing, and at an odd rhythm,” he recalls. His wife, a nurse, knew that it was time to seek medical attention for his symptoms.
Millinger’s family practitioner referred him to a cardiologist who immediately diagnosed him with atrial fibrillation. He was placed on several medications which, instead of resolving his arrhythmia, made him feel worse. For several years Millinger struggled, and was eventually forced to retire because his symptoms had grown debilitating. “It was just so discouraging for me,” he says, “waking up every morning exhausted. But even resting was uncomfortable for me.” Millinger also points to feelings of depression—uninterested in leaving the house to take a drive and visit friends, and unable to do the work on the farm that he found so meaningful.
When he experienced an episode that drove his heart to race at nearly 300 beats per minute, Millinger found himself in the emergency room. His cardiologist recommended he undergo an ablation procedure to treat his atrial fibrillation.
“My cardiologist told me that patients of his who had gone to U-M to receive an ablation had experienced the best results,” says Millinger. “So that’s exactly where I went.” Soon, he was in Dr. Morady’s office in Ann Arbor. After being thoroughly educated about the procedure, risks and recovery, Millinger felt confident that he had made the right decision. He received a successful ablation procedure in October 2005, and returned home after spending only one night in the hospital. Within a week, Millinger was back in his fields, collecting the fall harvest, and thrilled to be there. “I haven’t had an episode since,” he says. “I have more energy than I did back then; and I’m quite a bit older!”
Looking back on his ordeal with atrial fibrillation, Millinger is grateful for the quality of care he received at U-M—an elegant, expertly performed procedure that has made his life simply enjoyable again.