Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Heart To Heart

Some of you may not know this but, I have been a cardiac patient since I was nine years old.

The first time I saw a cardiologist was a result of an elementary school physical. Remember those? Some old doctor came into school on a random day and checked to see if anyone in your class had flat feet, scoliosis, and/or head lice (remember the ticklish sticks probing around in your hair?).

In fourth grade, during my school physical, the doctor thought that my heart sounded funny. So, he sent me home with a note for my Mother requesting that I get further medical testing. I bawled the whole way home, positive that my days on earth were numbered.

As it turned out, I had a heart murmur. I didn't need any special treatment or medication. And, I could still run and play and be normal. Whew! That was a relief.

So, the next scare came when I was seventeen. I was swimming at my sister's house when suddenly my heart went into Atrial Fibrillation. I didn't know what was happening at the time, but I knew that it was serious. Luckily, I was able to drag my sorry butt out of the pool.

When I was able to catch my breath, I went indoors, changed my clothes, and went home to lie down. My heart continued to race for HOURS before it finally started beating normally again.

These cardiac episodes happened frequently to me over the next few years. I saw several male cardiologists and none of them were able to determine what I had because when they monitored my heart, it always behaved normally. So, they told me I was anxious/ hormonal/ having panic attacks.

Finally, five years ago, I had the worst episode of A-Fib EVER. It started at my husband's 40Th birthday party. As his birthday bash was coming to a conclusion, I started to lose my hearing. Then I felt faint. Then my heart was beating so fast that you could see the front of my shirt jumping up and down. I managed to keep it together until all of our guest left. Then, like a dumb ass, I made my husband take me home so I could try to sleep it off. No dice.

At 5:30am I was admitted to the hospital with my heart beating at 240 beats per minute. And for those of you who can't fathom what that might feel like, my heart was beating so fast that (A)I was setting off the alarms on all of the monitors that were connected to me, (B)I could not catch my breath long enough to conduct a coherent conversation, and (C)I couldn't hear anything except for my heart beating in my ears. I was scared shitless.

Of course, the one funny thing that happened during this whole incident was that as my husband was sitting in the corner of the room thinking that I was probably going to "bite the big one" on his 40Th birthday, I was able to muster these words from my lips, "Paul....heh, heh, heh (that's me panting). If anything....heh, heh, heh, (me panting some more) happens to me...heh, heh, heh (yep, more panting), your PRESENT is under the bed."

Yeah, I KNOW that I was in the midst of a medical crisis but, what the hell? I paid a lot of money for that freakin watch and he was going to find it, wear it, and love it, damn it!

So, to make a long story even longer, I was admitted to the cardiac care center of the hospital where I was medicated intravenously in hopes that the drugs would return my heartbeat to normal. If that didn't happen within twenty-four hours, the doctors were going to basically stop my heart and restart it again with electric shock. Oh, joy. I felt like a Volkswagen with a dead battery.

Thankfully, I did not have to go that scary route, as the meds kicked in after about nine hours.

So, you're probably wondering where that leaves me now.

Well, it's like this:

I was finally correctly diagnosed as a patient with Atrial Fibrillation and not classified as some crazy, hormonal chick who was anxious.

I still have episodes sporadically, but I know what to do when they happen (and yes, they still scare the crap out of me).

I have a great female cardiologist who I trust implicitly. Together, we have implemented a course of action that I feel good about and keeps me feeling like myself.

And finally, I (like most) still struggle everyday with my choices. I don't exercise nearly enough. I don't always eat the right things (just the opposite). And, I SOMETIMES avoid those doctor's visits just so I don't have to hear the same ole "you need to lose weight" crap that annoys me so much.

Sometimes, life can seem unfair (I'm talking to you, naturally skinny bitches!). But, overall, it is good. And I am grateful. For everything.

That's not to say that I wouldn't trade in a family member or two for a faster metabolism.


H.K. said...

My eyes went wide reading the first few paragraphs and then burst out laughing when you talked about your husband's present!

You are one of the few bloggers (and I read many!) that can insert humor into a very scary situation.

I'm glad that you have your condition under control because where else can I get a good laugh? :0)

Sally said...


Thanks for the reading! Yeah, I have an "interesting" way of looking at life. I'm just happy that someone out there thinks I'm funny.