UNITED STATES—I will be the first to admit this, I do not like going to the doctor. I actually have a fear of going to the doctor. I fear that aspect of receiving bad news and that paralyzes me completely. I recently got news after a doctor visit that caught the attention of my Primary Care Physician. He said your heart rate and pulse is beating way too fast when you’re at rest. My immediate response, “Is that something I should be concerned about?” His response, “No, but we want to check it out to ensure.”
This prompted the doctor to run an EGK. In fact, he ran three EGK tests during that visit because the first one had some technical issues and the doctor wanted to be certain. I’m sitting in this room, all alone, sweating and praying all would be ok. I didn’t know much about an EGK, except it is used to examine the heart rate and pulse. My doctor didn’t spot anything in specific that alarmed him, but he wanted me to see a cardiologist just to ensure there was nothing serious.
I did not like hearing this because when it comes to the heart or the brain, those are the two organs that scare me the most. You heart is vital to ensuring the brain works, the brain is vital ensuring that your heart works. So the waiting game to see a cardiologist was excruciating. I recall getting the referral list and contacting doctors and getting information that most couldn’t see me until the beginning of July or August at the earliest.
There was absolutely no way I would wait that long. The notion of just waiting with no answer would put me in a complete spiral. I finally get in contact with a cardiologist who could see me in May, I make a schedule for an appointment and I wait. Last week, I had that appointment and I have never been more frightened in my life. The doctor could tell I was anxious and nervous, hell, I even confessed it to him. He did put me at ease a bit with simple conversation. I have learned so much about how doctors keep that distance with patients to not get emotionally attached to them. We go over my vitals and I get some good news, I’ve lost another 5 to 6 pounds, which I think is a direct result of virtually cutting sugary drinks from my diet, limiting red meat to almost no consumption and I picked up my cardio a bit in the past 3 months.
My blood pressure was perfect according to the doctor, 123/78, he was slightly concerned about my triglycerides in relation to carbohydrates. He noted it was slightly high and I noted I was working to limit my carb intake, but it has been difficult because carbs are in almost everything you eat. The nurse conducts an EGK test and it shows a high heart rate and pulse when I’m at rest. Doctor, then conducts his own EGK test which proves the same thing, he also does a few other tests on me as well. Heart rate still too fast for me while I’m at rest, and note this was a visit that was over an extensive period of time. I have not been poked or prodded so much in my life at the doctor; it was exhausting and nerve-wrecking. If something is wrong with you, you want to go to the doctor to get an answer.
Making matters worse, I had no one with me during the visit. I really haven’t spilled what is potentially going on with me because I don’t want to worry family, but at the same time I don’t want anyone adding potential stress to my plate. The doctor asks if I’ve felt any pain in my chest, as far as I can recall no, not anything that would stick with me where I would immediately notice or spot it. This resulted in the doctor mentioning possible beta blockers.
Not too familiar with that, but he noted the medication could be used to see what was going on with the heart, but I advocated if I didn’t have to take any medication I didn’t want to. He agreed for the time being, but his biggest concern is that my heart rate shouldn’t be so high considering no obvious issues physically with the body. I hadn’t been doing any extensive exercising or running that would increase the heart rate before the EGK test and the other test the doctor performed on me.
So he noted he wanted to conduct an echocardiogram, which is about a 90 minute test to examine the entire heart and see if there are any problems. This means looking at the upper and lower chambers and also ensuring there are no blockages. My alarm bell is immediately going off as I’m thinking, what is this test and would the doctor be recommending it if I didn’t need it? He reminded me not to worry, whatever is going on we’re going to figure it out.
He noted a term I had not heard of tachycardia. It is where a person has a fast heart rate, and it can be nothing for some people, for others it could be serious because it could involve a potential electrical imbalance of signals from the heart to pump blood and oxygen to vital organs and it could be a situation that leads to cardiac arrest. That cardiac arrest term caused me to freeze up, I didn’t like to hear that, but with the echocardiogram the doctor was hoping that possibility would be ruled out. He couldn’t really find out precisely why my heart rate was so fast without any obvious things standing out based on the evaluation of my vitals. The problem that test is not going to happen till July. So that has just added to my nerves people.
That was not it; I was fitted with a heart monitor I had to wear for 24 hours to examine my heart and any activities for a period of time. Was the device uncomfortable to wear? To a degree and it is obvious you’re wearing something on your chest, which meant I couldn’t hide it from family members, which turned into a conversation I didn’t want to have, but I just had to be honest. The doctor is looking at some things with my heart and just want to make sure a situation isn’t rising that will become a big problem later. This involved journaling anything that transpired over that period and if I felt anything out of the ordinary. That device recorded electrical activity during that period.
Any major stressors? It depends, I do work multiple jobs and I’m a full-time doctoral student. The doctor, noted, it might be time to cut back a bit. I hadn’t really realized that until the doctor explained that to me. I have literally been working at least 2 jobs since 2009, that is close to 14 years America, no break during that time not to mention pursuit of a higher education at the same time and other familial stuff. I hadn’t really considered that stress on my physical, physiological and psychological health. It is more than I ever considered.
He threw out the consideration of maybe taking the semester off from school to reduce that stress a bit. That is something I had not considered but I am starting to see it may not be a bad idea, just for me to not have such a heavy plate for a period of time as I address this serious health issue that is looking serious. I mean I think I’ve had at least 7 to 8 EGK tests in the past 2 months with no definitive answer as to why my heart rate is abnormal and a cause of concern for my doctors.
I’m hoping to have some update on the first heart monitor test later this week, when the doctor wants me to be fitted again to monitor my electrical activity for another 24 to 48 hours. The cardiologist wants to evaluate the results from both periods on different days to see if any similarities or differences are spotted. Note: I do not drink, I do not smoke and I am decently active.
I will be honest I am scared sick right now because I have always feared going under the knife especially if it involves the heart or brain because so much can go wrong. I don’t want to have the heart cut open and be implanted with a possible pacemaker or any device that is going to get my heart returning to its normal activity like most Americans. I don’t want to run into a period where I won’t be able to work; I don’t like being idle my body and mind doesn’t know how to react to not doing something.
It means a lot of the things I like to do that might be considered adrenaline rushes are out the window, at least for the time being. No more white-water rafting. I can forget about the visits to the amusement park and getting on those thrilling roller coasters. I could see a massive shift in how I live my life and that is the thing that scares me the most. I like my life as it is, but I keep telling myself if hadn’t gone to the doctor on a regular basis this might not have been picked up and who knows what could have transpired as a result. Doctors can be scary that is something I think many of us can agree to, but it is better to know than to not know at all America. Check your health regularly. You know your body better than anyone else, if you sense something is off get it checked out don’t delay it.