Friday, August 28, 2009

SVT. And This Post Has Nothing To Do With Stellan.

So, once upon a time, I was 14. It had been a rough week, involving some pretty intense emotional issues and surgery on my knee. It was a Saturday, and it felt like my heart was literally about to explode.

Went to the hospital. Received fluids and a medication through an IV. Heart rate slowed down. Doctor's concluded it was an anxiety attack.

Happened a few more times. A couple of them, I passed out in the middle.

As I got older, it started happening more frequently. Instead of once or twice a year, it was every couple of months or so.

And then every month.

And then a couple times each month. And then nearly every week. And then often times twice a week.

And now, every day. Sometimes several times.

I brought it up a few months ago with my "temporary" family doctor (my "regular" family doc is still not seeing patients for most things, following his head injury). He kind of dismissed it - I've been struggling in the stress department, and I think we both figured that was it. I didn't go into detail about how long or consistently it's been going on - I just wasn't concerned.

A couple weeks ago I saw him for something that has NOTHING to do with my heart, and he noted that it was going just a little fast - about 120. Nothing too bad, just faster than "normal." I mentioned that it often times went a lot faster than that. He asked how fast. I truthfully told him that 160 wasn't uncommon. He didn't really like that answer. Said he wanted me to wear an event monitor for 30 days and see if we could get some ECG strips of the "abnormal rhythm."

Picked up the event monitor on Wednesday the 19th. First five days or so were great. Day six, I had an "almost event" where I thought it was about to take off, so I pushed record. And it (my pulse) promptly went back down to about 90.

Wednesday of the next week (the 26th), I felt miserable all day. I came home to sleep while my husband went to church. I noticed my heart felt awfully strange - heavy, and very much pounding and feeling kind of "fluttery." Recorded the event, then checked my pulse - 170. So pretty fast. I did what I figured out years ago, by accident. Gave myself a firm massage just under my jawbone. Today I found out that that's actually something that doctors will do with patients to try and slow their pulse down. And of course took the obligatory Metoprolol.

Thursday, I called in the monitor recording from the night before. Guy at the testing center was pretty concerned, said he'd send it to my doctor right away. I figured nothing would come of it. Ten minutes later, we were on our way to a funeral, and the phone rang. My doctor, calling to say he got the test results. Needed me to check my pulse right then. Lots of questions about how I was feeling. Suggested that I should really come in so he could evaluate. Decided not to do so, provided I was willing to come in the next day (Friday the 28th) if the fast heart rate came back at all. That was easy to agree to.

Well, it came back. Got a phone call from my doctor about 20 minutes after I sent the recording off. More questions. Had me take another Metoprolol, said I needed to see cardiology right then - that it was medically necessary.

I ended up leaving work 5.5 hours early to go to the cardiology clinic. Met with the cardiologist. He asked a lot of questions. Informed me he could tell I wasn't a smoker or a drinker. Asked if I wanted to be cured of the problem with my heart. I said yes to that, of course.

He did an exam, talked to me a bit about cholesterol (mine is ridiculously high, and it's not because of a weight issue). His nurse came in. He asked her to schedule an echo for a patient who would need an ablation to treat her SVT. I honestly believed he was talking about some other patient. Especially when he said he wanted a doctor from across the state to come see "her" and do the ablation. I've brought up the rapid pulse so many times before, and every time it's been dismissed as anxiety. There was no way he could be referring to me, and I knew it.

She nodded, and left the room. He then proceeded to show me my ECG strips from the monitoring I've done. I was honestly expecting to see just a plain old sinus rhythm (normal, healthy, and good) that was chugging along more quickly than normal. I was prepared to maybe see a couple blips of atrial fibrillation, since it seems to run in our family. This first picture is a pretty good depiction of what numerous ECG's I've had in the past showed. A nice, normal sinus rhythm of about 60 beats per minute.

And that is what I expected to see.

But, it was not to be. The heart rate on those strips was foreign. I've had lots of ECG's done in my life - each time I had an episode that I told a doctor about, they would do the ECG. Of course, it was always way too late to catch the abnormal rhythm, and they would tell me it must just be anxiety or something. But those strips from the event monitor? They looked like this:

I'm no professional, but I do know that an ECG is supposed to show a P,Q,R,S, and T wave. I also know that my normal resting pulse is between 55 and 65. The test strips proved that my initial statement that my heart sometimes goes up to 160 beats per minute was not quite accurate. During most of the monitors, my pulse was like the picture above - about 180 beats per minute. During some of them, though, it was "well over 200."

I'd like to pretend that I have this great, unshakable, unwavering faith. And I'd like to tell you all that I stayed calm, there was no fear, and I resolved to move forward. But, truth is, I was afraid. As the doctor explained that I was that patient he was talking to his nurse about, that it was me who would be seeing the doctor from across the state next week, and it was my heart that was going to have an ablation, I started to freak out just a bit.

I was a little hard on my husband. I told him what was going on via text message - the reception in the clinic is horrid, and I wasn't sure I could speak coherently. I left the office, and went downstairs for blood work. As soon as I was done in the lab, I found a quiet corner near the skywalk, where the reception was somewhat better. I called one of the sweetest, most level-headed people I know. She got details out of me. Reminded me of Who is really in charge of my life. Prayed with me.

I left, and spoke a bit to my husband on the phone as I drove to our church. One of the office staff was there. She prayed, anointed me with oil. Gave me an amazing hug. Instilled and spoke peace. Reminded me that the "SVT" is just a name. And that Jesus is a name above all names.

I would be lying if I told you I am no longer surprised, or that I'm not nervous at all. I am nervous. I don't like what I was told. I want to pretend it isn't so. But even now, with more medication in my system than there has been for a long time, I can feel that something isn't right. With the medicine, it will beat fast for only a minute or two, and then it slows down again to about 60.

And when it's going slow, and I'm blissfully unaware of its presence, it is easy for me to say that my heart is healed. It's easy to believe. It doesn't really require much faith at all. But when it starts to feel strange, and it's hard to count fast enough to calculate a pulse? It's not so easy to believe then. But I am trying. With everything in me.

If you would, can you pray for me this coming week? I've had surgery a lot of times - eight, if you don't include minor things that require only light sedation. I've never been afraid before hand. But this time is different. This is my heart. People don't tend to do well when their heart is damaged. I know that an electrophysiology study (EP Study) is a very low-risk procedure, and I know that ablations usually go very well. And more importantly, I know that my God, He is God. A faithful God, Who keeps His covenant to a thousand generations. Even so, it's taking everything I have to stay focused and grounded, and not give in to the fear that's trying to creep in.

And maybe, if you are taking the time to pray for me, you could pray for a few others as well? My husband - I can only imagine that this had to be as much of a shock to him as it was me. And the doctor who will be doing the EP Study and ablation - first name is Zalmen. I'm not going to give his last name, since I'd like to retain at least some anonymity. If you would pray, I would really appreciate it. I have an echocardiogram on Wednesday morning (I've had lots of these over the years due to a goofy valve), and see the doctor from across the state on Thursday morning.

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48 hours.

The last 48 hours have been... full.

First, I want to say a HUGE thank you to my beloved, amazing, best-in-the-world husband. Four years (and one day) ago, he married me. I find myself often asking how it is that I got so blessed, and how it is that he can be so amazing. All the credit goes to my God.

In less happy news, we spent part of our anniversary yesterday at a funeral. Derek's "uncle" Jerry has gone to heaven. Better for him. Worse for us. I didn't know him. I am so thankful that I will eventually have a chance, though.

Finally, there is a medical situation in my life right now that came as a bit of a shock, to say the least. I'm not ready, yet, to share details. It's nothing terrible - in fact, it's curable even. But a shock none the less. By the end of the week I should have more information. I may wait until then to share, or I may share tomorrow or Sunday. We'll just have to way and see I guess. Either way, if you would, can you pray for the doctors? That they'd have wisdom and insight? Tonight, to be totally blunt, I am fighting fear. But for now, I'm going to just leave it at that.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

An Explaination.

So, my last post promised that I would begin posting more regularly. 13 days ago. Yikes. I feel compelled to make excuses offer up an explaination. So here you go - a list of reasons I have been on a posting hiatus:

  1. Life was getting the best of me.
    Or, to put it more accurately, I was finding myself overwhelmed and struggling to muddle through each day. By the time I came home each night, I was drained.

  2. Refering back to number one, I had nothing left to pour out. I wanted to - wanted to pursue my assignment from the Psalms, wanted to share some of the things that have been rising up within. But there was just an... absence. Of motivation, of strength, of words.
  3. Embarrasment. Having stepped away from my assignment, and broken my commitment, I was embarrassed to post. Which is silly - this is my blog, and whatever I post or do not post is up to me. And I want it to be "real" - an example of what it's really like to walk this Christian walk. Part of that "reality" is to let you (my readers) see me fail, and then pick myself up and keep going.

  4. Time. I haven't had much of it to spare.

  5. My husband's cat Bayleigh. Pictured over there --> on the right sidebar. Last week Friday (so 8 days ago), she came into the bathroom at about 11:00 PM as I was getting out of the tub, and made it abundantly clear that she was not at all okay. Called her vet, left a message with the answering service. Then called every other vet in the area hoping to find someone who would/could see her.

    Took her in at 7:30 the next morning, found out she had a bad bladder infection. They gave her some good drugs, lots of fluids, and informed us that she also had a pyometra (infected uterus) and needed surgery first thing Monday morning. We took her home in between, and babied her.

    Surgery Monday went fine, she came home Tuesday, and has been quickly (and sleepily) recovering ever since.

  6. A nasty, nasty computer virus. Yep, somehow, somewhere, I picked one up. In spite of running Norton Antivirus non-stop. Well, non-stop until my subscription expired 12 days ago. Two days before the virus showed up. Entirely coincendental, I'm sure. Or not.

    Seriously. It was a real pain to get rid of. First step was to renew my Norton subscription. Which I did. Twice. Whoops. The refund from the second purchase will go through in 5-10 days, or so I was told when I spoke with one of their representatives. I'd like it faster, but I can't complain. It's not like it's their fault I was so impatient that I placed the order twice, convinced the first one didn't go through.

    Back to the virus. I was alerted to its presence about a week ago, when a large red circle with an "X" in the middle showed up in my system tray. It kept randomly generating a pop-up informing me that my computer was infected and I should click the link to download removal software. Yep - I got the infamous "Windows 2009 Security Update" virus. Fortunately, I knew better than to click the pop up. I also know enough to disconnect the network cable.

    After updating Norton, I realized that his obnoxious little virus prevents Norton from being able to open. Not being very programming-savy, I opened my task list and watched it as I tried opening Norton over and over. I finally noticed that each time, a task would pop up for about 3 seconds, and then disappear, and Norton would quit loading. So I finally got the bright idea to kill that task as soon as it popped up. And viola! Norton loaded.

    I figured my problem was resolved. Ran the full scan, which took most of the night (I slept while it worked). The program disappeared from my system tray, the task was gone from the task list. All was well.

    Or not. When I restarted my computer, the program promptly reappeared and began incessantly reminding me to download a "removal program." I pulled the network cable again. Looked at my task list - found the tasks that were new (yes, I am enough of a geek to be very familiar with which tasks should be on that list and which ones don't belong). Using my phone (because the computer was not connected), I browsed Microsoft's process library for the tasks in question (braviax.exe).

    I was bitterly disappointed less than thrilled with the description on the entry retrieved: "This is a process." Ya think? Very helpful, eh?

    I found a techie forum, filled with big words I don't understand, and instructions that were written in some foreign language. Or maybe it really was English, and I'm just not cut out to run with the techies. Either way, the instructions were almost useless. Except the part that listed the two search terms to use when removing the braviax virus from your registry. Which is not something I'd recommend doing if you're not used to checking and editing your registry, since you can totally mess up your computer doing it.

    After finding and removing all instances of "braviax" and "cru629" from my registry, I restarted my computer, expecting that dreaded red circle to reappear. It didn't. I re-ran my full system scan - Norton found nothing. I opened internet explorer. Still no sign of it. So I restarted it again. Nope, nada.

    I've been waiting for it to reappear for several hours now, and it seems that it's gone for good.

    I like winning.

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Post in Which You Are Spared.

So this post is to let you know that you are being spared. Spared from long, drawn out explainations of why this past week has been... hard. To say there has been a lot of up and down would be accurate - the same way that saying the ocean has a lot of water in it is accurate.

It's been full to the brim with secret struggles and uncertainty. Lots of room for questions, lots of time for reflection, and a shortage of answers.

But this post is one in which you are spared.

I am going to simply say, "I appologize for the lack of posts lately. There is a reason - several reasons, in fact. I am okay. I have not forgotten about this blog. I have not forgotten about the Psalms. I have just been... occupied."

And I'm going to tell you that I am sparing you from descriptions and/or pictures that illustrate the reason for the difficulty I've been having with sleep for the past week. I'll leave it at this: somehow, some way, something stumbled upon or through while out on the river has... impacted me. More specifically, impacted my knee and my foot. First suspicion was poison ivy. Now leaning more towards wild parsnip. Or some other plant or chemical or something. I'll leave it at that, and gimp away on my crutches.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Psalm 28.

Psalm 28

(verses 1 and 2)
To you I call, O LORD my Rock;
do not turn a deaf ear to me.
For if you remain silent,
I will be like those who have gone down to the pit.

Hear my cry for mercy
as I call to you for help,
as I lift up my hands
toward your Most Holy Place.

This week, I have fallen short, in so many ways. Some obvious ways - such as reneging on my comitment to not only read a Psalm and study it, looking for emotion therein, but also to post about it daily. Other obvious ways - I am still plugging away at uploading and completing the galleries for the wedding I recently shot. I'm struggling to meet my upgrade goal at work - not that my job demands it, but I set the goal and I really want to meet it.

There are other less visible ways - not being as faithful to pray as I had been, choosing physical comfort over the opportunity to go to church, being short tempered with my husband.

And then there are those areas that are too deep, too significant, and truthfully, too personal to share here. And it is in those ways that I am struggling the most.

So, dear readers... if you would, please pray for me? I know I seem to ask that a lot, and I almost didn't ask now because of it. But I don't want this to be one-sided.

If there is something, anything, that I can be in prayer with and/or for you about, please don't hesitate to contact me. You can leave a comment - they are all "private" unless I choose to publish them, and I promise that any prayer request will NOT be published unless you request it. You can also send me an e-mail, using the link on the right hand side of this blog. I would count it an honor and privelage to pray with you.

That said, I am going to go make supper for my darling, sweet husband. Who happens to have washed our dishes. Nearly all of them. Without being asked. Have I mentioned lately that I adore him? His brownie points account is overflowing right about now...

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