Friday, July 06, 2007

zero to 165 in no time

Guess I should start with the "I'm okay" part first.

I am okay!!

I've been debating for a few weeks (while feeling really crappy most of that time) whether to write about health issues yet again. The debate continues in my mind, but I've decided to go ahead and write about what's been happening... mostly because this is the easiest way to express my feelings while also updating those who read my blog and pray for me.

So... health... um, yeah.. that thing.

Over the last year, I've been ignoring some symptoms that I probably should not have ignored. But when a person has had chronic illness, she gets tired of doctors blowing her off and attributing symptoms to stress or being mid-40's or whatever because they are busy and don't want to take the time to figure out what is going on.

Oh. The symptoms... pounding and racing heartbeat, pressure in the chest, sometimes accompanied by chest pain, always accompanied by shortness of breath, sometimes ache and/or pain down the arms, sometimes dizziness... yes, I know, all classic symptoms of a heart attack.

Don't ask why I waited so long to get it checked out. I just did. Not one of my best moves, but there it is.

Since the symptoms were becoming more frequent... and more intense... I finally said something to my doctor when I went for my physical in June. Believe me, it got his attention!

He set me up with the Arrythmia Clinic here in town, and a handy little device called a Heart Card which is extremely cool technology.

A patient experiencing "cardiac events" will carry this Heart Card for up to one month. It's the size of a credit card. Carried in your pocket or purse. When I get these events, I place the Heart Card against my skin in the center of my chest and push the "record" button.

BEEP... BEEP... BEEEP... BEEEEEEP... yep, it was kinda loud for the 30 seconds that it recorded. And yes, it was a little, tiny EKG machine that I carried in my pocket. Cool technology!

The Heart Card holds up to 3 event recordings. When you've got a couple, then you call into the Arrythmia Clinic... they push a few buttons to connect the phone with their computer... and I push the "send" button on the Heart Card while holding the phone to the card.

Beepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeep!!! right back into their computer, where they can tell me immediately what's been happening. Waaaaaay cool technology!

The upshot is that I carryed that Heart Card around for about 18 days and got some good recordings... which show that I've got some atrial tachycardia going on. (and that there is a heart in there... I am not the heartless wretch that some might believe!)

From what I've been able to research about atrial tachycardia, that means that from what should be a simple resting heart rate of 60-80 beats per minute, the heart rate shoots up for no good reason... up above 100... and mine shoots up frequently into the range of 145-170 beats per minute. Usually when doing something very simple like putting on my makeup before work... which is not a stressful thing to do!

The events are not horrible, but they are unpleasant and leave me fatigued or exhausted, depending on how high my heart rate goes.

What does all this mean for me?

The obvious is that this means we have to find out what is causing these atrial tachycardia events. In the research I've done so far, one of the major culprits is Mitral Valve Prolapse. (MVP - normally a fairly benign condition that many folk have... the mitral valve in the heart is not functioning exactly as it should, but usually does not cause problems ever)

Yep, we've known for many years that I have MVP. When it was diagnosed years ago, they told me that I could either act like a cardiac patient or I could treat it like a nuisance and get on with enjoying life. I decided to go with the nuisance option. Cut back on caffeine, take antibiotics prior to dental appointments, and get on with enjoying my life.

If the mitral valve is the source of the atrial tachycardia, then it needs to be managed. What I've found so far is that there are about 4 treatment options.

1. Medication
2. Mitral valve repair
3. Mitral valve replacement
4. Pacemaker

Since I've only just turned in the Heart Card yesterday, and my follow up doctor appointment is set for next Wednesday, I don't know what the actual cause is. But I do suspect the mitral valve as the obvious culprit.

There are several potential next steps in determining the cause of the atrial tachycardia. Most likely scenario is an Echocardiogram... an ultrasound of the heart. Had one of those years ago. It was cool to watch my own heart beating on the TV screen in the exam room.

At this point, we wait until Wednesday to find out what the next step will be. I get these events too frequently for them to be ignored completely.

All medical jargon and clinical attitude aside, while I am concerned about my heart... I am not afraid right now. I think that it's because I'm not looking very far into the future and scaring myself with the "what if's".

Mostly because I'm leaning heavily on my Heavenly Father for today's needs only and not looking with fear at tomorrow's unknown.

I've been told by medical professionals that these events are not heart attacks and I trust their knowledge.

I've been told by my Heavenly Father that I can lean on him today and trust him for tomorrow's needs.

I like that plan.

...may there be mercy and peace as we wait.


SuziQoregon said...

((hugs)) my friend

Jennifer Olwin said...

praying for you :-) ... keep us updated.


Anonymous said...

Thinking about you and just reminding you that I'll be with you tomorrow (virtually of course).

Remember - we like option #1 the best!

Love ya babe!


Karen :) said...

Tell that sweet heart of yours to SETTLE DOWN!

Praying for that doc appointment today!

K :)

Eleanor said...

Praying without ceasing, sweet friend.

1happyrocker said...

Keeping you in prayer & of course hoping for the best. Do keep us posted!