Friday, November 30, 2012

Be Still My Foolish Heart...You Traitorous Organ

As an author of stories that contain elements of romance, I spend a lot of time talking about the heart. In many of my scenes, the heroine’s heart either flutters in anticipation or maybe even races with desire…perhaps regret even tugs at the strings of her heart. You get the picture.

Silly though it may seem, I began to think of myself as somewhat of a “heart” professional. After all, conjuring exciting imagery to detail the inner workings of such an enigmatic part of the human anatomy can be challenging.

Turns out…I was wrong. Turns out, I didn’t know diddly about the heart. Not even squat.

Several folks in my family have what we like to call “flopsy” hearts. A few years back my father underwent a quadruple bi-pass, my aunt wears a pacemaker and my sister takes meds to control the beat of her heart.  So, when I started experiencing an irregular heartbeat, I wasn’t all that surprised…or even unduly concerned. A few blips here, a small thump there…no big shakes. I’d experienced them before and they had always passed. I felt fine. Besides, I had a Thanksgiving feast to prepare and a house to clean.

But when the flips and thumps ratcheted to a consistent whirr I couldn’t escape, I wondered if something more might be occurring and called my doctor to schedule an appointment.

I love my doctor. Besides being handsome in a swarthy Marcus Welby sort of way, he’s calming, laughs at my sarcastic jokes, and has enough experience I trust his judgment. So when the receptionist told me the soonest I could get in was four days later, I took the appointment…and then spent those next four days trying to convince myself I wasn’t dying.

Perhaps this was it. A heart attack was looming just around the bend. Or maybe a stroke. Did I already have a stroke? Would I even know? What was my phone number? Could I recall the date of my anniversary? Should I take an aspirin? Or not? How about tongue twisters? Could I enunciate with the same dexterity?  

Sleep became a distant memory, as did sitting at the computer for extended periods of time (I’m talking like 15 minutes), because each time I remain stationary my heart sputters and chugs like an out of tune engine.

My doctor has reassured me everything is fine. He wrote me a prescription for what grandma likes to call "nerve pills" to ease me down off the ledge of terror (and help me sleep) and has also ordered a battery of tests—one of which includes wearing a holster monitor for twenty-four hours so the cardiologist can figure out what’s going on.  

Since I’d never worn a holster monitor before, I didn’t really know what I was in for. And for those of you who’ve never had the pleasure, I thought I would take a moment to debunk a few holster myths…as well as offer a few suggestions.

I snapped this when the tech left to retrieve more goo.

1.     There is no “holster” involved. Contrary to thinking I’d leave the hospital in a cute gun-slinging ensemble which would match the cowboy boots on my feet (I was being fitted for a holster—stilettos didn’t seem appropriate), a tangle of wires, electrodes and an entire roll of medical tape are now stuck to various parts of my body.
2.      There is lots and lots of cold goo involved. Be prepared to be slathered—from waist to shoulder.
3.      Wear a pretty bra. The technician will need to thread and then tape several wires between your boobs.
4.      Shower before you go. You will not be allowed to bathe while wearing the monitor.
5.      Much like the expendable crew member on Star Trek, you will be toting around a small electrical device—either strapped to your belt or in a pocket. Perhaps consider a cute nickname. You may call me Yeoman Fluttering.
6.      The technician will not think it’s funny when you compare the little snaps on the electrodes to being “bedazzled”.

Next Monday I go for my first-ever stress test. Not sure what’s involved with that either, but I’ll keep you updated. Off now to plan an outfit. What does one wear to a stress test, anyway?


Suzanne G. Rogers said...

So sorry for your situation, AJ. When I had a similar situation in my 20s, it turned out to be a thyroid imbalance. I hope that's all it is for you. Good luck.

- Suzanne

AJ Nuest said...

Thanks, Suzanne! Been there, done that. Had my thyroid removed thirteen years ago. Graves Disease. I also suffer from anemia which could be the cause. Gotta wait and see, but I appreciate the thought!Hugs!

Anonymous said...

Take care of yourself, AJ! I hope it turns out to be nothing and the doctors will quickly set your mind at ease. I'll be thinking of you!

Lilly Gayle said...

Take care of yourself AJ. Hope everything turns out find. And what happens with the stress test depends on the type ordered. I'm not an echo tech or a nuclear medicine tech, but I am a x-ray tech and mammo tech and those tests are done in the x-ray/imaging dept. If it's a Nuclear medicine Stress test, you'll have to forgo all caffeine products and decaffeinated products for 48 hours. They'll inject you with radionuclides and you'll have to lie on a scanner while the tech watches the radiation travel through your heart while you exercise. The test is several hours long. If it's an exercise stress test, they'll perform an EKG before, during and after you work out on a treadmill. Be prepared to sweat. And good luck! Hope everything turns out well for you.

Christine Elaine Black said...

Oh my goodness, A. J. Thanks for sharing your story. I'm one of those types that thinks every headache or bellyache may be the harbinger of doom. Though I'm really bad a going for a doctor's appt. Hopefully it will turn out okay and you can focus on some fun stuff.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Oh, hon, I'm sorry to hear this. On the good side, your doctor seems on top of the situation.

Here's a joke I tell the tech people whenever I have to take a stress test. You may use it with my permission...LOL...wait until you start to get a little winded so you have the added sound effects to your story:

Oh, gawd, this reminds me of the story of two hound dogs chasing another hound through the corn field. The faster the dog out front ran, the faster the pursuers ran to keep up. On and on they ran. It had rained recently and the field was muddy. The dog being chased kicked mud splatters back on the pursurers. Finally one of the dogs doing the chasing glanced at his partner and said, "Ain't this a bitch?" And his buddy replied, "Hell, I hope so!!!"

Good luck, darlin'. Calvin has an echo stress test scheduled for Monday, too.

Melissa Fox said...

Sending good thoughts your way, AJ. Love your sense of humor amid the stress and concern - sometimes that's the best medicine we can give ourselves.

Naima Simone said...

First, I'm relieved because your doctor has reassured you everything is fine. This makes me sigh a huge breath of relief. I'm still cheering and praying for you all the way! But are the only person who can make me snicker while being concerned over a serious situation at the same time! Yeoman Fluttering?? ROTFL!! And I'm with you...stilettos no. Cowboy boots all the way! I mean what if they'da had a nifty pair of spurs to go with that holster? You couldn't have attached those to the heels! Sooooo tacky. Good call!

I'm doing my "Just Jack" jazz kick and jazz hands for you!!

Lynne Marshall said...

Oh, AJ, I'm so glad to know this isn't life threatening, even though it's scary. I'm glad you went right to the doctor and are having your tests done.

During my first pregnancy, I developed PVCs which are premature-ventricular contractions, and they got so frequent I was short of breath. It scared me when I checked my pulse and it was so irregular. So I know what you mean.

This halter monitor should reveal what and how often this thing is that's going on. Hopefully, it's just an electrolyte imbalance or something.

Good luck, take care, keep us posted, and we miss you!

Calisa Rhose said...

Now that I'm done laughing at Vonnie's joke...
Hugs best girl! Oh, Aj! I feel your stress just worrying. But then we are so alike in those things, aren't we? So--

the stress test- I'll email you the deets, but it's a fairly long process so you want comfort. I'm talkin' jammies and slippers, or joggers and tennis shoes, depending on which version you choose.

Praying for good results and health for ya babe.

Dixie Lee Brown said...

You'll be in my thoughts, AJ.Try to relax and do something you enjoy.

Alison Henderson said...

Oh, AJ, I'm right there with you. Symtomatic arrhythmias are so scary. I have rare, but very uncomfortable, outbursts of PSVT when I get over-tired or over-stressed.

That monitor you're wearing is actually called a Holter monitor. Hope the stress test goes well.

Susan Macatee said...

Wishing you the best, AJ. I did have a stroke about 12 years ago and, although I'm fully recovered, it wasn't one bit fun. Take care. Better safe, than sorry.

Jessica Ferguson said...

No boots. You'll need some really cool running shoes. :)

Seriously, just read your post and sending up prayers for you, every day and especially on Monday.

Maeve Greyson said...

You are going to be fine and I will hear of nothing less! You probably just need a few meds to slow your idle down a bit. They'll probably also tell you to ditch the caffiene but I always tell them if I get rid of the caffiene then what will the pills have to do?

I know it's scary --but don't you DARE go through anything serious. We'd be lost without our AJ.

Oh. And wear nice underwear to the stress test. Don't wear the holey ones with half the elastic shot out of one leg. That just looks trashy. ;-)

Darcy said...

Oh, AJ, keeping fingers crossed and praying hard that everything goes well for you. My sister had to wear a holter monitor thingy a few years ago. She said it wasn't a big deal and was fairly easy to handle. Not sure about the stress test, but you've already gotten some good info here from people who are familar with the process. Sister also had those dang skipped heartbeats quite a while ago. In her case, a nutritional supplement containing magnesium and hawthorn helped, but I'm not suggesting you try that. Since your doctor is giving you a comprehensive battery of tests, that should solve the mystery once and for all and help him determine the best treatment for it, if any treatment is required. Will be thinking of you and praying everything works out beautifully so you and your family can enjoy a wonderful holiday without any health concerns. Vonnie, thanks for the funny story. I'm also keeping fingers crossed that Calvin's test goes well.

Aus Lil Devil said...

Sending all my positive thoughts and energy across the ocean to you, my beautiful friend. xoxo

Beth Trissel said...

Very very sorry AJ. I had no idea. But do know several friends and family who have been through this and are now on meds that have made all the difference. Keep us posted and hugs (((Big Hugs))

Kathryn Knight said...

Best of luck A.J., sending good thoughts your way!

Rachel Brimble said...

So sorry to hear you've got this worry, AJ - I look forward to your post saying everything is fine and the docs have prescribed what you need. Health is the biggest thing!

Lots of love,

Rachel x

Donna Michaels said...

Sorry about your situation, AJ. I loved your blog about it, though. You do have a way with words. :-)

My son had to wear similar get up when he was 15, except it was for a whole month. Yeah, that was fun. When he took it off to shower, we had to call a number to tell them so they didn't freak out. He also did the stress test. Turns out, he was blacking out because he has stretch syncopy (sp?).

Life sure throws interesting things our way. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you wait. That is the worst part.


LisaRayns said...

How very scary. Good luck and take care of yourself, AJ!