Friday, February 29, 2008

Boot Camp

Thank G*d it's Friday! I haven't been able to say that in quite some time, because I'm an at-home mom with my kids, and frankly every day is sort of like a Friday and it loses it's luster - it's just ordinarily another day that ends in "y"! But, today I can say it with gusto, because it means I have two days off before I get my butt whooped again in Boot Camp. Yep, I said it, Boot Camp. Not the Armed Forces kind, but shoot - it feels like it. I joined Indy Adventure Boot Camp for Women with my friend Monica. It's M/W/F at 5:30 in the morning for one hour. Yes, I have a new get-up time of 4:40 am. Ewww. Going on week three of this hell I'm actually paying for! I never thought I'd see the day that I was in bed before the local news. Now I find myself crawling into bed when I put the kids down at 8:30!

Anyway, I'm really loving this Camp. The variety is awesome - we do lots of cardio in the forms of running, obstacle courses, and aerobics. We do weight training with our own dumbbells, every kind of muscle builder you can think of, and floor work like stretches and Pilate's. Every day there is something new to do, so the days are never the same. It's really making my 30 minute at-home treadmill workout look like a stroll through the park! I need to step that up a bit I think. A number 4 incline at 4.5 mph on my treadmill used to make me want to puke - but I'm feeling so much stronger now and it feels great to be able to get to the end of a workout and not want to fall on the floor and die! ha ha! My heart is happy for me too.

I said that I was trying to make better choices about getting heart healthy and stronger, this is just one way I've been changing my bad habits. Another is I have not had any soda in THREE weeks! I used to drink diet soda, but still, to give that up that artificial sweetener has made me crave sweets less. I've only been having water or decaf beverages (tea, coffee etc.). I actually don't even miss it! And lastly, I don't snack on anything after 7:30 pm. This has been pretty easy to do since I have been going to bed so early! Making these three big changes has been challenging and motivating. Losing weight is important, but strangely, this is not about the weight for me this time. It's about getting stronger and the rest is just falling into place.

My next step is to incorporate some much better meal habits. I have to try really hard to make myself eat breakfast in the morning. It's not something I was used to doing. I've been taking the 5 minutes it takes to make a dropped egg on whole grain toast, decaf coffee sans sugar but a splash of fat free vanilla creamer. Yesterday I forgot to eat breakfast though, and realized that when my hands were shaking around 11:00. That of course snowballed into eating something breakfast-like, then lunch around 2:30 and then I forgot to make myself some dinner after feeding the kids. Hubby had class until 8:00, so he wasn't home to have dinner with me and I just got busy. I remembered at 9:30 last night that I never heated up my Lean Cuisine for dinner, so I got up and slurped down a protein shake with some banana in it. I figured I'd better get something in me before sleep because Boot Camp comes early and there's no way I'm eating before that workout! See? I need serious help with mealtime structure sometimes! The sad part is, I know what I need to do, but it's such a challenge to do it sometimes. There's always things to be done for other people when you're a Mom, and you just kind of take a back seat to your own needs. Baby steps, I'm doing it....

I just keep reminding myself about the story of the Tortoise and the Hare. Or the Little Engine That Could. Or c'mon, like a typical woman, the way my butt looks in the mirror.... :) Gotta pull inspiration from all places you know!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Bionic Woman

It's in! My newly installed Reveal Implant Loop Monitor! Read here if you missed that update.

I went in on Wed. morning for my treadmill test which took no longer than an hour. From there I had to wait on the results to give the go-ahead for the surgery. While I waited, they stuck me in a hospital bed and hooked me up to an IV for the next 5 hours. Boring, totally. I was finally in the Electrophysiology Lab for my surgery a little after 2-ish. Was out of there a little after 3-ish and home by 5:00!

The procedure was pretty simple in itself, but there just couldn't be a dull moment if I'm around could there?! Of course not! Well, it went downhill a little couple hours before surgery. They gave me some antibiotics in the IV drip called Vancomycin; routine to have some antibiotics before a surgery. I'm deathly allergic to Penicillin, so they had to use this drug. After being hooked up to this for a little while, Dr. W. came up to visit me and tell me he was ready whenever I was, but that the antibiotics needed to finish up. He commented that it was dripping very slowly, and left the room. I started watching the drip and noticed it was literally letting one drip go every 10 seconds. I'll be here all week if we wait on this! So I buzz the nurse, she comes in and finds a kink in my line near my elbow. I must have bent my elbow too much and caught it in a pinch - an hour ago! So, she fixes the kink and the drips begin much quicker. I settle back into some tv watching, and notice that I begin to itch my head uncontrollably. I couldn't stop scratching and my head began to feel like something was burning under my skin. My nose started to itch, around my eyes a bit too. So I buzz the nurse again and tell her that I'm really itchy. After checking me over, she obviously does not like this as I'm telling her I'm not feeling so good, and rushes out of the room and tells me she'll be right back.

Back in she ran and pushes some "Benadryl" into my line quickly and I immediately taste and smell something horrible like rubbing alcohol or metal or something. I yelled "yuck!" and told her what I was tasting and smelling, and suddenly I did not feel good AT ALL! My entire body flushed with such hot sensations, I was sweaty, dizzy, felt like I could not breathe well and was not able to see very well. I felt really really wrong and kept telling her that and asking if she was sure that was benadryl! She kept trying to reassure me, but I kept telling her something was wrong, I wanted to scream outloud by my body was like slow motion, even my speech. It was so weird. She told me she needed to get something and she'd be outside my room for a just second. She came back in with another nurse, some cart the other one was fooling with and my main nurse hooked me up to the blood pressure machine and oxygen measure thingy. My BP was down, heart rate was way up but my oxygen was still 100%, good thing. I started to feel better after a few minutes. Thank goodness!

Apparently what happened was when I was given the Vancomycin drip, I had an adverse reaction dubbed "red man syndrome or red neck syndrome". When she pushed in the Benadryl, that action pushed the rest of the Vancomycin that was still in my tube, into my body way too fast, and my reaction to it intensified because of how fast the meds were administered. All so confusing, but glad it turned out OK in the end. This is how I understood it when explained to me. I'm not a nurse or doctor, so I could have completely just screwed up this description. That's my disclaimer... haha!

Needless to say, once it was time for me to have my surgery, there was no way I wanted any sedatives put into my IV to keep me "calm" during the implant. I had had enough excitement for one day and was afraid of what reaction I might have to something else. I opted to have no sedation during the procedure, but he numbed the area with local anesthesia. I bit-the-bullet in the literal sense during this by not taking anything while it was done. Dr. Wrobleski joked to the recovery nurse that he just gave me a block of wood to knaw on - ha-ha! He actually does joke around, he was not all "business" this time and made me feel very comfortable in the operating room. I'm good to go now, all hooked up and ready for some heart episodes! The area is a little sore of course, but it'll be better soon!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Heart to Heart

American Heart Month

Glitter Graphics
Take care of your heart!

Bionic Woman? Terminator? E.T.? That’s what I think I’ll feel like this month when my shiny new device is implanted under the skin in my chest, to monitor my heart.

A little background history here – I have had “episodes” as I like to call them because they do not have a name as of yet. Episodes of my heart doing some weird Salsa Dance in my chest, possibly the Pasadoble, or maybe even the Conga! Whatever it is, it sucks and it’s scary, and it’s still undiagnosed on paper. This has been happening to me since I was nearly 17 years old. Back then, in the olden days and all, my cardiologist told us it was “growing pains”. Nice. I'm glad I'm still around when medicine could be improved! We could never catch these episodes because they were always reported after the fact when I’d go to the ER or something. Although one time I did get a reading while in the hospital of my heart racing at rest about 220 beats, but it was still not the same sensation as getting an “episode”. By all accounts, I have a good heart; strong, just the right size, spitting out the proper zigzags during a routine EKG. No traces of something outwardly causing these “episodes”. As one recent heart doctor told me, ' your heart the plumbing is fine, you need to see the electrician'. And so off I was directed to a new heart contractor, in the field of heart electricity. Electrophysiology to be exact. My new electrician.

I like layman’s terms like that. Easy to understand and it makes things more human rather than using all those fancy Ivy League words they learn in Med School. So, I saw the electrician. I suppose with anything in medicine, there are specialists in all areas. But I figured the heart guys and gals would know everything about the heart from every angle, right? I learned differently, because there are way too many areas of the heart to be good at every single one. That’s why the plumber gave me the green light and passed me on to the electrician. We’ll get to the bottom of this soon I hope.

Hope – yes that’s what he gave me! Someone that gave me a reasonable explanation as to why this might be happening to me! Yay! Three little letters: SVT or Supraventricular Tachycardia. He carefully explained to me how the heart has an electrical system within it that originates from one place – the Sinus Node. That little pile of cells is the substation for the electricity that your cells generate to make your heart beat its own little rhythm through a pathway around your heart. Sometimes there’s a misfire, like when you shuffle your feet on the carpet in the winter and touch something – and then the electricity just goes ‘round and ‘round and ‘round in a crazy loop until the heart’s own pacemaker (the Sinus Node) thinks – Wait! Stop that! And resets itself.

This would explain the strange “Bang!” sensation that I get once my episode stops. I’m always wishing for The Bang once my heart starts palpitating and racing and doing those dances, because The Bang to me means it’s over. These episodes scare the you-know-what out of me. I’ve been reassured that my young healthy heart does its job for me and resets everything back to “normal” at the right time, and that I should not worry that I’m going to drop dead. What a relief – isn’t that want you want to hear?! My rational mind can take this news completely casually when I’m not in the middle of an episode. But when I am, and feeling like I might pass out any second if only that stupid Bang would happen, there’s no relief in telling me I’m not going to drop dead!

But I like my new guy – this medical electrician heart man – I have to trust him. He doesn’t make me feel stupid with all the stale, incomprehensible textbook jargon, he tells me like it is and takes the time to explain and draw and show pictures etc. I wish he was a little more jovial, and a little less ‘business’, but I’ll take it if it means he can fix me. He did crack a smile once, but his face almost broke. Kidding of course. He's probably a different person when not under the cloak of white, having to explain over and over to people what might be wrong with their major life organ.... you know, the one that determines if you are alive or dead. Guess it's not a very jovial subject - ok, I'll cut him some slack.

So after trying a handful of tests over the years without being too invasive, I agreed to finally have an implanted loop recorder installed under my skin to see if we can catch one of these episodes red handed. This will take the place of hooking myself up to a bulky portable EKG machine. This Reveal Loop Monitor has a battery life of over 1 year. Hopefully I will catch an episode nicely, so that Dr. Electrician can see exactly where and what the problem is coming from in my heart. If we can find something treatable, then he can go in there and do what’s called an EP Study where he can map out the electrical pathways in my own heart, and zap (ablation) the naughty path so that it does not receive a funky current, and hence stop these episodes.

Since February is American Heart Month, I found it appropriate to write about this little ditty, and remind everyone to take care of their hearts. I have many changes that need to be made in my lifestyle in order to be more heart-healthy, and this is just one step in that direction. Medicine sure has come a long way to be able to implant a device the size of a stick of gum under my skin to catch some waves. Who knew I'd have to wait 17 years though! Hopefully my new accessory will behave and we can have this cleared up, or at least some better answers. In the meantime, I can just pretend that I have some magic powers or attempt to signal some UFOs…. That would be fun. Beam me up, Scotty!