Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Heart of the Matter

Monday, I spent the day in the E.R.  The reason for the trip was that it felt like my heart was skipping a beat.  It was something I had experienced at various points in my life since high school, but this continued for 40 minutes.  That was enough for me to decide to head to the E.R. in hopes of finding an answer.

In the past when I've gone to the E.R., I've signed in, and registration would give me a packet of paperwork to fill out.  And then comes the waiting game.  But on Monday, after I mentioned my symptoms, I started to walk away, and they stopped me.  The door swung open, and they took me straight to a room where they ran an EKG on me.  I have no doubt that had those scans detected something awful, I would have been whisked away to the Operating Room, and veins that are currently in my legs would have ended up around my heart.

But things turned out fine with the EKG, so the next stop (via wheelchair) was to my own room in Triage.  They drew blood, left an IV in me (no bag hooked to it - just the line itself - in case of emergency), put a bloodpressure gauge around my arm (that would periodically self-inflate), and hooked up several other items to measure my pulse-ox and heartbeat. 

More tests came in the form of X-Rays and ultrasounds.  Later in the day, I had a stress test - which is an expensive run on a treadmill while a thousand wires are taped to your chest.  All of this amounted to a diagnosis of heart palpatations with nothing apparently wrong. 

Yesterday, I went to a follow-up visit to a cardiologist.  I didn't expect much, and I almost didn't go at all.  But I hoped that he might reveal something else, even if it meant hooking me up to a 24-hour monitor to detect the condition if it happened again. 

The cardiologist asked me some questions and then had me sit on the exam table.  While he listened to me through his stethescope, my heart repeated its uncertain pattern.  He glanced up and asked, "Did you feel that?"  I tried to contain my excitement when I said I had.  "Is this what you experienced yesterday?"  I told him it was and that he was the first person to ever hear it.

He said he knew what it was - a benign condition where the heart does two quick beats, waits a pause, then resumes its normal pattern.  It doesn't truly skip a beat, but it can feel that way due to the pause after the two quick beats.  He said it will get better with age - how many conditions do that, right?  Triggers include caffeine, fatigue, and stress. 

I was extermely pleased to find out the cause of what I've experienced for years.  And to know that it's nothing fatal or even impairing (at least not that I've experienced).  What a relief!

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