Hunting for a Cure

It was “the most debilitating thing someone could have,” according to 65 year old rancher and avid outdoors-man Melvin Mills. “It started when I was 45,” he remembers. “Nobody knew what it was.” Then in 2005, Melvin met Dr. David Sandler, who diagnosed him with Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) and warned him it could worsen. Over the course of 20 years, Melvin experienced an irregular heart beat that at times would seem to pound out of his chest; at other times beat rapidly. Overtime, the unpredictable nature of his heart took him away from his work outside and his passion for nature. By 2012, Melvin says his heart palpitated every day. “There were times I didn’t know if I was going to be able to continue,” he adds of his lack of energy and shortness of breath. Getting by on medication therapy alone was not enough for Melvin or his AFib. He was afraid to lay down in his bed at night, where his AFib was at its worst. Instead, he slept in a chair just to get through the nights. It was time to visit with Dr. Sandler again and explore his options. New technology had just become available, which allowed Dr. Sandler to perform a balloon ablation. This allowed for a larger area of tissues to be ablated compared to previous traditional single-tip catheters. Melvin, while pushed to his limits physically by AFib, had his doubts. “When you have something for 20 years, you don’t expect it to stop,” he says. However, Melvin remembers the day it did stop. “It is a miracle,” he says of living free of an irregular heart beat since his 2012 ablation. “I am 65 years old with no limitations!” Not only was he cured of his AFib, which had plagued him for two decades, Melvin was now able to return to work as a rancher and get back to what he loved the most. When he isn’t tending his land or helping birth a calf, Melvin is traveling and enjoying every bit of life. He recently traveled to Argentina on a hunting trip with a friend and hunting guides. This trip would not have been possible for Melvin just a year earlier. Tracking Red Stag required the group to walk and run 6 to 8 miles a day. Melvin stayed right with the guides every step of the way.