"No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow." ~Lin Yutang

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

the heart God made me

as i was growing up, especially around jr. high and high school --when i was heavily involved in sports-- i was diagnosed with asthma.  it was a strange asthma.  it was pretty much indoor-exercise induced asthma.  i'm pretty sure i'm the only one that had that strand.  sometimes it would flare up outside, but for the most part is was indoors...
fast forward a few years and i got married and got pregnant.  during the pregnancy i had a few "asthma attacks" only i wasn't exercising heavily... it was around stressful events (which there are lots of during pregnancy because of the hormones!)  it only happened twice that i remember, but the first time was unforgettable.  let me tell you about it.
it was thanksgiving 2004.  it was the first thanksgiving that i decided to step up and be the wife of a family.  that's right, i made a thanksgiving dinner.  i was so stressed!  i got up really early because i knew the drill.  i was making the turkey and the potatoes and the dressing and the gravy and the sweet potatoes and opening two cans (cranberry sauce and olives).  i believe i was taking the turkey out of the oven when it hit me.  i got irritated because i was already stressed and i didn't have time for an asthma attack, much less any medicine.  i tried to just slow my breathing down and take big breaths.  it didn't help.  i put my hands on my head.  i walked in circles.  finally i came in to my bedroom and roused my sleeping husband.  i told him i was having a pretty bad asthma attack and he should know in case everyone woke up and found me in the kitchen on the floor, he'd know why.  (during high school sports my first reaction to one of these attacks was to go walk it out in the hallway by the lockers because frankly, they made me feel like a wuss trying to get out of some of practice!  i didn't want anyone to notice how "weak" i was.  my mom told me that was the worst thing to do in case something happened no one would be around to even know.)  so anyway, the young sweet caring otter pop said, "why don't you just lay down.  it's too early anyway."  and pulled me down to lay down.  since i'm an athlete i knew that wasn't the way to help breathing... but for some reason, it immediately helped.  i could feel my heart pounding in my chest, i could SEE my chest pounding, and then, it went from boomboomboomboomboom to beat... beat... beat...  interesting since i'd never tried that strategy before. 
well, like i said, in that pregnancy it happened one, maybe two more times but i didn't think much of it.  i figured it had something to do with the double circulation and the lack of lung space from pregnancy. 
after delivering my sweet tiny baby girl, i was being escorted to the pot to take a whatever-it-was-that-i'd-need-to after delivering a babe so that they could get me out of labor and delivery into the recovery room.  aleemay was born around 8pm, so since i'd been up since 2am i was bushed and ready for sleep and recovery! 
as they sat me up to get up, i started having another "asthma attack".  it was really bad.  i started getting really dizzy and told them i couldn't breathe.  i told them i needed to lay back down and they were saying, "that's normal... it's a head rush, we just got up too fast."  i don't remember anything after that.  i passed out.  the next thing i knew there were several panic-looked nurses around me.  i had oxygen on.  and one said, "oh, you're back."  i was like, uh... what happened?  they explained that i scared the crap out of them.  my heart was racing up to 230 bpm...  i looked down at the foot of the bed and saw my sweet husband swaddling our perfect little newborn with a terrified look on his face.  that's when i muttered, "sorry." 
come to find out, it wasn't an asthma attack.  hm.  i went and visited a cardiologist and found out i had a different heart.  different than normal.  different than i thought. 
it's strong.  it works.  but if i get an adrenaline rush, or a caffeine rush, or anything to push my heart to start beating fast... it starts beating faster and harder and faster and harder and... (i know that's what she said) until it's pretty much not doing anything productive because it's going so fast (for instance 230 bpm in the hospital room.  my normal -at that time in my life- was between 50-65 bpm.)
the cardiologist gave me a stress test (which meant put me on a treadmill and get my heart going to see if it could trigger another attack -or episode, as they call them.)  since they did this all AFTER i was pregnant, nothing was triggering an episode.  the dr. gave an educated guess (giving my age and my health) that i had a condition labeled PSVT (by medical peeps).  i don't even know what the PSVT stands for, except the T stands for tachycardia ---i think.  P is probably pulmonary.  and the V might be for valve???  that would be, what? pulmonary something valve tachycardia.  yeah... that's probably not it.
anyway, the cardiologist was awesome.  he got out a heart model for me and refreshed all my health courses in what the heart does and how.  he guessed that my AV node (in the center of the heart, that takes the electrical impulses and pretty much makes the heart beat) is a two-way valve instead of a one-way valve. 

somethin' like that.
anyway, i've had three pregnancies since then and haven't had too much of an issue with my heart condition.  when i delivered jones, they gave me some blood pressure medicine upon injection of the epidural and that freaked me out.  my heart started racing and i was pretty scared, but it slowed down and i was ready to punch that stupid whatchamacallhim (the dr. that gives epidurals) for not even consulting me about giving me a medication.  but other than that... nothin'.  the cardiologist said that it would be at its worst in my twenties, so i just figured it was "running its course". 
well, this latest pregnancy has proved me wrong.  i've had about a dozen episodes so far (i'm almost 15 weeks).  they're different this time though.  they aren't beating as fast but they're not stopping as quick either.  it's been kinda freaky.
anyway, that's my heart story.

Try to remember, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." 


Anonymous said...

Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia.
That's was PSVT stands for. You need a cardiology consult right away. Please call your doctor. The more often they occur, the more often they are likely to occur, so you need to be under the care of a cardiologist. lylyly

Anonymous said...

So I was reading your story and when you explained what was happening to you I though immediately that it sounded like what I have. I googled PSVT and sure enough we do have the same thing. How small is this world!! Here is the site that I found it on.
I just call mine an arrhythmia though. Less scary that way. Anyhow if you ever need tips on how to get the pain to go away let me know. Tamara Barney

Nicnic said...


ah shucks, marma beat me to it! yeah, you need to chat it up with your doctor asap. Those are not cool episodes.

MamaT said...

tamara, i don't have any pain. it's just a shortness of breath... and then a little dizziness... and a few stars... and then when i lay down i can see my heart trying to beat itself out of my chest.
i'm glad that i get this chance (did you read my other post?) to see what it is that i really have because maybe it might help.
*i'll put up a link to the newest one that i wrote first*

Alexis said...

This is the same thing I get. They have always said its just high blood pressure. I only get it when pregnant though so I have no idea! I hope you feel better and are able to find something that helps with it!

MamaT said...

my blood pressure has never been even close to high. it doesn't raise at all during pregnancy. very steady 120ish/60ish. doesn't fluctuate much... maybe 5 points both ways.