Just in case anyone noticed, I’ve been MIA for a little while. First, of course, because of the recent holiday weekend. Nobody seems to be paying attention during those kinds of weekends anyway, so that’s kind of expected.
Then, on Wednesday, we had a little scare. The coronary kind. Not a fun day. An ambulance, the ER, a zillion tests (including lots of needles), endless waiting, overnight admission, more tests, etc., etc. All those kinds of things that make you start thinking about “mortality” and “enjoying life” while you have the chance.
But I’m ahead of myself. First off, I’ve had a condition called Atrial Fibrillation for about 8 years. There are a number of different kinds, but basically it means that your heart can get out of rhythm from time to time (or it can be chronic) and alter your pulse rate and blood pressure. The heart usually winds up beating too fast and irregularly – an arrythmia. By itself, AF isn’t terribly dangerous. It’s not like ventricular fibrillation which can be fatal in a matter of minutes. But it certainly can be annoying. And it can increase the possibility of having a stroke, since clots can form in your heart when it’s not in sinus rhythm.
Now, all of that stuff can be controlled with medication. Up until Wednesday, that was true for me. As I said, I’ve dealt with this for 8 years. No big deal. I’d have episodes from time to time, but nothing that I couldn’t deal with. Heck, most of the time I’m in normal SR. When I’d go into A-Fib it would usually be just for a few hours and then the “system” would correct itself. My only reaction was to slow down a little. A-Fib will drop your blood presuure so dizziness and fainting are real possibilities. But Wednesday was different.
The episode that started Wednesday morning was far worse than any I’d ever had. Standing up was nearly impossible and breathing was difficult. I began to sweat (something I rarely do). My chest was “tight”. Even then I was 90% sure that this was just a really severe A-Fib episode, but I’m not totally stupid. The symptoms I just described could also mean angina or even a heart attack. Not much choice. Dial 911.
As luck would have it, the A-Fib event ended just before the ambulance arrived. But we were off to the hospital anyway. Might as well see it through, I figured, just in case.
After that, an endless series of EKG’s and bloodwork. The EKG’s looked fine, but the bloodwork showed a slightly elevated troponin T level. Troponin T is a protein that the heart muscle gives off when it’s been injured. The normal level is 0.0 to 0.10 micrograms per liter of blood. My first test came back at 0.13, just slightly too high. So we had to wait at least 6 more hours to test again. Which wound up meaning an overnight stay. The 2nd test came back lower, but they were still concerned. One doctor seemed convinced that I actually had had a heart attack. I was sure at this point that I had not, but my opinion didn’t count for much.
The next day, more tests. Including a stress test with an ultrasound. That turned out to be not much fun, but it did have the benefit of getting me the hell out of the hospital. I “passed” the stress test and the ultrasound showed no evidence of any heart muscle damage. So they turned me loose. But not before I had a brand new cardiologist and 2 new medications. This guy told me that the meds I’d been on weren’t doing me any good anymore. He didn’t say so, but I got the distinct impression that he didn’t think that they ever had done me much good.
So here we are. Day 1 of brand new pills. One of which is a fairly strong anti-arrythmia drug (I hadn’t been on an antiarrythmia drug before). That should be interesting. Hopefully, it’ll work. All I know is that I don’t want to ever relive Wednesday’s “event”. That was simply scary. No other way, I think, to describe it. Just flat-ass scary.