I also had a few people tell me that they liked reading my last post because they didn't really know what was "wrong" with me and said they were afraid to ask or just didn't understand. That was surprising for me because I feel like I talk about my health .all.of.the.time. Actually, that's one of my major struggles with all of this. A few years ago my friend jokingly called me Debbie Downer (post-heart issues people!) and it really stuck. I don't mean it necessarily hurt my feelings - it just made me much more mindful of my attitude and words with people (which may be shocking to those of you who I do often complain to - yes, I am actually making an effort not to be Debbie Downer!). This illness has really challenged my physical, emotional and mental health - finding balance is like a juggling act. And, well, I don't even know how to juggle.
|I copied this from google images. I guess from SNL at some point.|
I am really looking forward to blogging more so that I have an outlet and won't feel like I talk too much about my health. I already referred a friend to my blog when she asked about my new medication. *insert easy button here: That Was Easy * And, hey – since you’re here right now reading this (hello!) why not get involved… let’s start a dialogue. I am inviting you to comment here if you have any questions or concerns or well wishes or blog requests or just so I know you stopped by ... and if you are shy, I'm pretty sure you can post anonymously. I'd really love to hear from you! For serious!
Today I want to tell you the story of how this all began: the first time I was admitted into the hospital. Let’s go back to the year two thousand and seven a.k.a. the worst year of my life. My father died. I think a part of me died with him. That was in March. My first heart event happened that September.
It was around 11 a.m. and, surprisingly, I was still sleeping. The weirdest thing woke me up. My heart was pounding. Well, more like racing, but really hard not just fast – if that makes sense. The feeling was somewhat familiar to me. I mean, I have a type-A, high-strung, perfectionist, highly anxious personality at best (no, not the best combo for a serious heart condition I’ve since learned). Anyway, initially I wasn’t too concerned. Although I did think it was bizarre that it woke me up. I got up, showered, and it was still pounding. This was about an hour later – the feeling was getting a little less familiar at this point.
I’ll never forget this moment: I touched the side of my neck where you check for a pulse, and I felt this big, bubbly vein pulsating so fast and so so so strong. Officially unfamiliar. I looked in the mirror and saw this massive vein pulsating out of my neck. I mean BIG and, not to mention, a really unbecoming shade of purple. But, on the other hand, I felt fine; my heart was racing/pounding and jumping out of my neck but, aside from that, it was really just another regular Saturday for me. So I went about my business.
I had agreed to make my friend kraft dinner for supper that night when she got home from work. I’m certain this dinner time conversation saved my life. It must have been around 5 p.m. when she showed up. I served our meal and we were chit-chatting. I said “oh hey, you know what’s weird? Look at my neck…yea it woke me up this morning…” She actually got a kick out of the neck thing. In her defense, it was pretty neat, and she DID convince me to go see a doctor. But after all the time I spent in the hospital with my dad earlier in the year – I was pretty uncooperative. So we compromised and went to the walk-in medical center instead of the hospital.
This was where things got a little more worrisome.
“What’s the reason for your visit?”
“My hearts been pounding all day, it’s weird.”
“Okay, have a seat.”
I got in to see the doctor. He looked at my neck, panicked, listened to my heart, more panic, and told me that I needed to go to the emergency department. At this point I probably rolled my eyes. He wanted to call me an ambulance, but I didn’t want to pay (priorities), so we agreed that my friend would drive me. Off we went to the emergency department, and I drove because my friend didn’t have her license. (Mom – if you’re reading this – sorry, I don’t think I told you that part, but we made it just fine.)
This is where the worry really starts. I walked into the waiting area, grabbed a number, took a seat, and waited. When I got in to see the nurse, she took my pulse and… !wow! full alarm at the Sudbury Hospital!! This part is a little blurry because it all happened so fast – all I really remember is that I was worried because I hadn’t given them my health card! I was escorted/maybe carried/possibly wheeled into a room with 5 staff members - nurses I guess - and they literally ripped off all of my clothes and put me in a robe. It was intense! Then I was hooked up to a system on the wall, given an IV and oxygen and my mom was called. My friend was not allowed in the room.
I found out that my resting heart rate was 197 - I was in something called SVT and A Fib. A Fib (Atrial Fibrillation) may sound familiar to some of you – your grandparents probably have it!
Sidebar: If you have a minute – count your pulse right now – it’s probably closer to 60-80 beats per minute. Booyah!
Needless to say, the doctor and on-call cardiologist were there in lightning speed with a portable heart ultrasound machine. The cardiologist was telling me and my mom that they would have to “shock me” soon. Apparently you can only stay in that heart rhythm for so long until you have a stroke. Since I waited all day, I was really close to that cut-off. My bad.
So I was finally freaking out a little. The cardiologist was pushing my chest and neck to get the ultrasound, and all-of-the-sudden I felt so much pressure and almost like a pop and… that was it… my heart rate dropped! Much to everyone’s surprise, including the doctor's. It turned out that while he was conducting the ultrasound, he accidentally did a "vagal manoeuver." Basically, he pushed down, blocked air-flow and it somehow popped my rhythm back.
I stayed in the hospital overnight and was released the next day. That was the first time I had ever been in the hospital as a patient, and wouldn't be the last. I remember feeling really happy that I didn't have to get shocked. Well, at least not that time. CLEAR!