Have a Heart (But Don’t Take Mine)

On Valentine’s Day, hearts are everywhere. Chocolate mostly, although I did actually see a bacon heart this morning on Facebook. For the record, I think bacon smells good, but I would never eat it.

THIS is more like it.

The-heart-sign-dogSpeaking of hearts, I had an interesting thing happen to mine this week. It’s funny how, when you are in your 50’s, you start thinking about keeping yourself on this planet a little longer, and paying attention to “little things”. When I was in my 20’s and 30’s, I never thought about stuff like blood pressure, pulse, cholesterol, and all those boring things old people talked about.

This past weekend, I was laying in bed and felt a strange sensation in my chest, like there was a fish flopping around in there. It lasted a few seconds and then stopped. A few minutes later, it happened again. Being the dutiful Catholic that I am, I said an Our Father, and an Act of Contrition, just in case I didn’t wake up in the morning. I didn’t really think I was having a heart attack, but I wasn’t going to take any chances. As it turned out, I did wake up, went about my day, and that was that. Until it happened two more times. Then once again, while watching TV the next night, that flounder was back in there, flopping around. I mentioned it to my husband, who, glued to the TV as usual, grunted something and held his blank stare at the flat screen. Deciding that I needed something to drink, I got up and wooohooo, the dizziness hit and I floated across the floor, like a drunk, all the while, watching the little stars blinking, and the blackness closing in. I managed not to pass out, and continued my evening of TV watching.

Just before bed, the old lady in me-the one that has turned into a hypochondriac, decided to email the doctor, just ‘cuz. I managed to wake up alive the next morning and received a call from the Dr’s office, telling me to come in today. Ho Hum. OK, sure, fine.

Fast forward to the appointment. My regular doctor was off that day, so I had the “pleasure” of seeing a first year intern. No offense to this guy but really? What, are you 12?

Doogie had the technician take my vitals sitting, standing, and laying down….three times. They did an EKG, and low and behold, aside from a First degree AV Block, which I already knew about from a previous EKG, there was nothing unusual or concerning.  The doctor asked me if there had been any changes to my life recently that might be a contributing factor to these episodes. Normally at this stage of an exam, with my regular fantastic doctor, I would have had a chance to discuss what is going on in my life, the stress issues, my injury that has prevented me from running for 9 weeks, female issues, daughter getting married stress, how my big toe hurts, the migraine I had last week; you know-normal stuff. But this guy didn’t want to hear any of it. For some reason he decided he wanted to focus on how much I drink and what kind of drugs I take. I told him that I regularly enjoy a glass of wine at night and that can mean anywhere between 1 to 3 glasses, but that several weeks ago, after the holidays were over and I was taking hold of my senses again, I had curtailed my alcohol intake by about 80%. He then said that “Sometimes in people with such excessive alcohol consumption, withdrawal can cause these symtoms. I looked at him like he had three heads. Then he asked me what type of stimulants I was taking. This is when I started getting pissed. I sat up and looked him straight in his teenage eyes and said. “One or two cups of English Breakfast Tea per day.” He didn’t seem amused and asked me to hold my hands out in front of me. He wanted to see if I was having tremors. Now, I have a good a sense of humor as anyone, but this was not funny anymore. Who IS this guy? I attempted to “gently” explain to him that I am not a heavy drinker, I do not take ANY drugs or daily medications, I work out 5-6 days per week, currently swimming a mile or more per week, bike 30+ miles per week, PLUS work out at a kettlebell gym twice per week. When running, I routinely run 35-40 miles each week, AND I run my own successful business. I eat primarily vegetarian and seafood meals, and don’t eat a lot of junk, plus I drink somewhere between 30-60 ounces of water each day.

At this time he suggested that I wear a 30 day heart monitor so they can track whether or not I have recurring symtoms, and evaluate them. He left the room and asked the tech to do my vitals again…sitting, standing, and laying down. By now, I felt like I WAS going to have a heart attack. For the record, my blood pressure was something like 90/60 and my resting pulse was <60. It didn’t change much in the three times they checked. I had a feeling by now, however that they were going to be higher. (They weren’t) 

While the tech was checking these things, she said the doctor wanted me to fill out a questionnaire, because apparently they thought I was crazy and suicidal.


After filling this out I asked the tech to go get the doctor and ask him if I could do a 48 hour heart monitor as opposed to the 30 day one. I was trying to imagine wearing this wirey, bulky contraption in the pool, or while swinging a kettlebel, while wearing my business clothes, or anything else for that matter. A short time later, the baby doc returns with a more mature, seasoned doctor, and I  thought, “Thank God she’s here to change his diaper and let me go home.”

She started out just wonderful! She explained my AV block in such a way that I fully understood it, and also explained the symptoms I was having, and how they are very common, bla, bla, bla. Just as I was about to pull out my car keys and leave, she stopped, got all serious, and said, “But more importantly, I want to talk to you about your excessive alcohol abuse.”  I really thought Ashton Kutcher would pop in at any moment with the “Punked” crew. I thought about arguing with her, but then she would probably think that was the alcoholic talking, so I just shut up and nodded. I had had enough. I guess they must have just had some kind of seminar on substance abuse and their reticular activators were on hyper alert!

I managed to leave there with a smidgen of dignity, WITHOUT the heart monitor, because they were out of stock, and went home. I vented my frustration with this experience to numerous people and went on with my life. I am waiting to speak with my regular doctor, to see if she wants me to wear the monitor. I will be a good girl and listen to her. I will not let prepubescent medical residents examine me in the future. I will continue to be an ADHD, running obsessed maniac. AND, I will find ways to manage my stress.

I think I will start with a nice Valentine Lobster dinner and a glass of La Crema ChardonnayDSCN0114

Happy Valentine’s Day. I hope it’s a good one. Take great care of your health.