UPDATE:: I’ve gone back to the cardiologist after the results of the CT Scan to see what the next step is. He has referred me to another cardiologist and says they will perform an EP Study/Ablation.
I’ve been writing this post for about two months now, so if it seems sort of choppy, please excuse.
Since January, I’ve been dealing with an issue that is, among other things, taking away from my overall quality of life. It’s current diag-nonsense is SVT, Supraventrical Tachycardia, or high heart rate. Doctors are still trying to figure out what is causing it. Here’s my story, not that you care to hear it.
On my way to work one morning, about a week before January 25th, I was driving my usual route, which takes about an hour. I was about 20 minutes away from the office when I was suddenly overwhelmed with the feeling of someone squeezing my heart. The was no pain, but it literally felt like someone reached their hand into my chest and squeezed my heart. I immediately pictured the moment in Wayne’s World where he pulls the guys heart out and it is still beating in his hand. This episode lasted maybe a total of 15 seconds and was followed up with a dull aching pain in my left arm. It scared me, but since it had stopped, I didn’t think too much of it at the time, other than that I had never felt anything like it before.
The day moved on and by the time I got home, I noticed my chest was pretty sore as it I had been lifting a bunch of weights. Again, I tried to just blow it off as a random occurrence.
The next morning, it happened again. The same way, almost at the same place on my route to work as the morning before, and about as long. It was happening where my heart is and not on the other side. As I had been completely unaware of my heart up until this point, I started getting scared. It happened the same time every morning and the symptoms were getting worse each day.
I had recently been treated for strep throat and being I hadn’t had strep since first grade, I thought maybe I was having some sort of adverse reaction. I went to the doctor who treated me to tell him what I was experiencing. He said my heart rate was a little high, gave me an EKG and chest X-Ray, gave me two days worth of Xanax, and made me sign a LMA waiver (leaving against medical advice) before I went. He assured me he thought nothing was wrong and that it was probably short term side effects of the high doses of amoxicillan and prednisone I’d just come off of. Still, he made me sign that leaving against medical advice waiver so of course that didn’t sit right.
Skip to a week later and it got to the point where I felt as if I was running, full-speed, all the time. Sometimes it felt like someone had a chain connected to my sternum and was pulling me forward and other times I had relief from leaning forward. Eventually, the pain in my left arm and shortness of breath led me to head to the ER. When I got there, I was dizzy (probably from panicking) and they immediately rushed me to the back. At that point, my resting heart rate was 144. They said I wasn’t having a heart attack, per the EKG they hooked me up to, but they were going to treat me for one. They ran tests, did another chest x-ray to check for pulmonary embolism, etc., They said it definitely wasn’t anxiety, but was heart related, so they gave me a prescription for a beta blocker, metoprolol, and referred me to a cardiologist.
Upon meeting the cardiologist for my consultation, he immediately stated that, because of my age, there was probably nothing wrong. I found that to be funny because the nurse from the ER I had just seen in the ER told me that there are much more young people dying these days from heart problems because they go overlooked due to their age. He said he wanted me to wear a Holter monitor for two weeks and at the end of the two weeks, I would come in for a stress test and echo-test. They didn’t have any monitors on hand, so they said they were going to mail one to me and it would arrive at my home in 2-3 days. A week passed, and no monitor. Another week passed and it was time to go do my stress test.
During the stress test, I met 102% of my max heart rate, which is good. I thought for sure I’d be dead in the first five minutes…but I managed to make it through the entire test, plus an extra two minutes to complete the last cycle. After that, I had an echocardiagram. It was pretty cool. The technician let me listen to the sound of my heart, from the inside. It was freaky. You could hear my blood squirting through my heart…which sounded like what I imagine to be the sound of a cut jugular squirting all over the place.
The cardiologist said that my tests came back normal and there was no indication of structural heart problems. He said I could stop taking the beta blocker when I ran out and my problem should be gone by then.
Three days after I stopped the beta blocker, my heart started racing all the time again. I remember one Saturday shortly after I stopped the medicine, my heart rate wouldn’t get below 135. I laid on the couch for hours and hours trying to be calm, but I just felt like I was going to have a heart attack. The muscles in my chest ached so much and I was so tired. I started taking the beta blocker again and was told the heart racing could be caused by and outside source and to see a primary care doctor.
I went to see a doctor in Keller and he turned out to be very nice. He seemed to take my issue seriously and acknowledged that it doesn’t make sense to suddenly wake up one day and have your heart racing. He said that he thought it was something going on with my heart and his opinion was that, because I am so young, the previous cardiologist didn’t take me very seriously. He suggested it could be a mitral valve prolapse. He referred me to see another cardiologist and said I should have an EP study done.
I went to see the second cardiologist’s physician’s assistant and he immediately wanted me to start wearing a monitor. This was an event monitor that started with a ‘T’, but I cannot for the life of me think of the name. Anytime I felt anything, I had to press these buttons on it and I would have to note my symptoms so they could compare my heart rate to the symptoms. I felt a good bit of relief knowing that someone would be monitoring me 24/7 because at this point I was sure I would keel over at any time from a heart attack.
I received a bill for $4500 dollars for this monitor BEFORE I ever received any results from the monitor. It was so frustrating. I went back to the cardiologist to get my results and he said the only thing he could tell was that my heart rate is high and it has several peaks throughout the day where it is really high. I told him I would’ve told him that for $3000. I was angry because I still had no answers and I was already 10k in the hole. He followed up by saying it could be a rare condition in which a cyst or tumor forms on my adrenal gland and that I should have a CT scan done, but I had to wait a month for that. Ugh. More waiting. Meanwhile, I was losing my sanity and quality of life as the days crept by.
I went for a follow up at my primary care doctor and ended up putting me on an anxiety medicine because I was having a really tough time with this hurry up and wait game. We discussed going ahead with the CT scan ASAP so I wouldn’t have to wait longer for answers. He called the cardiologist to get the orders so he could send them to the imaging center. The cardiologist didn’t even remember, or mark in my chart, anything about a CT scan. wtf. I must’ve come up with that on my own, right?
I had the CT scan last week on Thursday and it was the most miserable time I’ve had in a long while. It was a CT scan with oral and IV contrast, so that made it extra fun. In fact, it was so fun, I’ve created an entire post dedicated to what to expect during an abdominal CT scan which includes a candid breakdown of my reaction to the procedure.
My primary care doctor said the results came back and there “doesn’t appear to be any hyperplasia or tumors on my adrenal”. I wonder if they word it that way to reduce their liability. Still, NO ANSWERS
So I’m headed back to the cardiologist this week to figure out what is next. I am throwing a pity party for myself. I keep telling myself there are tons of people who are in a much worse situation or condition than I, but this is happening to me. I am having to take medicine every day or else I feel like I am having a heart attack. My left arms hurts regularly and I get chest pains throughout the day, even with the medicine. It’s hard to deal with. I feel alone in this problem. Don’t get me wrong, the medicine has helped, but I am one of those people who DOES NOT want to be dependent upon a medication in the form of a pill. What happens when the day comes that I won’t be able to get a refill, i.e. apocalypse, civil war, etc.?
I just want some answers. Why did this suddenly start happening? What is causing my heart to race? What will fix it? When will this be over? When can I get back to being me?