Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Visit To The Cardiologist

I have always said that this white girl has an extra dose of white girl when it comes to rhythm.  You know the person that you hear clapping slightly off-beat when in a crowd clapping to the beat?  Yeah, that's me.  Apparently, my heart has the rhythm of a white girl as well.

I have had this condition that I have dealt with for years and years.  My heart will start racing like mad - giving me a fluttery feeling in my chest.  It started when I was in my 20s.  It would only last for a few seconds, maybe a minute or two, and then it would stop.  Sometimes I could cough and that would make it stop.  It didn't happen every day.  Or even every week.  Or even every month.

As I have gotten older, the episodes have gotten more frequent and last longer.  Over the last year or so, they have really ramped up.  I spoke with my doctor at my annual checkup back in January.  We discussed going to the cardiologist then but decided to wait so I could track the episodes.  To see if I could figure out a trigger. 

I only figured out that there is no trigger.  There is no rhyme or reason to the episodes.  Exercise.  Sitting at computer.  Stress.  No stress.  Caffeine.  No caffeine.  Morning.  Evening.  It just happens.  At random. 

So the last month or two, the episodes have increased to several each week.  They can last anywhere from 5 minutes to 45 minutes.  I break out in a sweat like you would not believe.  I feel light-headed.  On occasion, I have experienced tunnel vision, which means you are on your way to passing out.  And they have started producing pain up near my collar bone that radiates down my left arm and up to the left side of my jaw.  Yes, that scared the crap out of me.  So it was time to return to the doctor.

Yesterday morning, I left the house with every intention of going through the drive-thru at the bank and returning home to put on my pjs and bury myself in my office.  It was chilly, rainy.  A perfect pj day.  So I left without a shower, barely brushing my hair, no makeup, etc.... 

While I was in the car, Vol Fan demanded suggested that I call the doc for an appointment.  I called and told the office girl that I needed to make an appointment - fully expecting to have one next week.  She said "If you can get here in 15 minutes, we can fit you in today".  So, not really wanting to, I went to the doctor's office.

I told him what had been going on.  I also told him that an episode had occurred while I was at home one afternoon and I slipped on the cuff for my home blood pressure monitor.  It beeps every time your heart beats while it is doing its thing.  There were several segments of no beats - my heart was beating so fast that the machine could not count it.  Even with those gaps, my heartrate was over 350 beats per minute.  And my blood pressure was 220/120.  Yeah, scary stuff.  When I told him that, he ordered an EKG immediately.

While his nurse was hooking me to the machine, he called a personal friend of his that is a cardiologist and told him what I was experiencing.  The cardiologist said "Tell her to get here NOW!!!!!"

So the person that really wanted to be home in her pjs was now on her way to Nashville to see the cardiologist.

Upon reaching his office, the guy at the front desk was searching his appointment listing for my name.  I told him that I really didn't have an appointment.  His eyes got big and he asked if I was the patient from Tullahoma.  Yep, that was me.  I was immediately ushered to the back, skipping in line ahead of the 20 or so people waiting!

I had a battery of tests.  Blood work.  Chest x-ray.  EKG.  Ultrasound of my heart.

All of this determined that my heart is fine physically.  Not enlarged.  No abnormalities.  But I have a condition called supraventricular tachycardia or SVT for short.  It is a fancy way to say that my heart short-circuits going into afib, where it flutters rather than beats.  All my symptoms are textbook. 

The doctor assured me that the event itself is not life threatening, even though it feels like it.  Problems can arise from the fact that while my heart is in afib, it is not pumping blood efficiently.  Since the blood isn't pumping, it can pool in the heart and form clots.  Then those clots eventually get pumped out into the bloodstream and can lead to a whole other set of problems, including stroke and pulmonary embolism.  And I definitely don't want that so I have started an aspirin regimen!!

So now I am on a heart monitor for the next 48 hours to hopefully capture an event.  If one doesn't occur this weekend, I will be put on an event monitor that I will have to wear until one occurs.  They need to see an event to determine where and when the bad signals occur.  The next step for this problem used to mean taking medication for the rest of your life.  Now they have developed a surgery to correct the problem.

The surgery is the type where they snake the instruments up a vein in your leg to your heart.  Once there, they determine which set of nerves are causing the problem and nip those suckers.

Until then, I am wired up and doing everything I can to cause an event to occur. 


Mental P Mama said...

Hugs!!!! And prayers....

Busy Bee Suz said...

Wow...this sounds a bit scary. Well, scary until you know for sure if you need surgery or not...and I hope you don't.
Sending you good thoughts and prayers for a quick/easy answer.

ps. So glad you finally went to the Dr. Why do we wait so darn long????


Betsy from Tennessee said...

That does sound very very scary. My best friend's husband has exactly the same problem. He has been wired up --and has made numerous trips to the cardiologist... He still has those episodes --but the doctors still say that his heart is fine... This must be something that doctors still don't know much about...

Take care, my friend. I am glad that you are getting this checked out...

Hugs and Prayers,

Snooty Primadona said...

Jeez Louise! Another point in making it suck that you don't have family history to go by.

However, it sounds like you were sent to the right doctor, thank goodness!

You know, I think there are a lot of people around who blatantly ignore their symptoms & end up in the morgue for it. I am thrilled to hear you're getting it all looked after.

Take excellent care of yourself & keep us posted because things like this are often happening w/ other people. You might have helped someone else as well as yourself.