Just capturing some thoughts on how things went down as far as my heart issue of the beginning of 2016.
The first thing was super mild on Feb 7. I woke up at like 5 am with some really small heart hiccups. very mild arrhythmia every few minutes. Nothing major but it consistently happened from around 5 until 8 am or so. Woke up and got ready and had some eggs for breakfast. Seemed to quieten down a little bit as the morning went on. Then in the afternoon it was pretty much just when I would sit down or stand up. By that night it was almost gone. It happened once mildly on Monday, Feb 8th and then stopped.
Two weeks passed.
Then on February 20th a Saturday morning, I was doing mild activity (walking around, taking a couple of steps on a ladder, and that’s about it.) Around 11 ish I started getting stronger heart palpitations that were lasting a couple of seconds. By 1:30pm they were happened pretty frequently, so I went to the Shands Emergency Clinic on 39th Ave. My EKG was fine, so they sent me home and I scheduled an appointment with Shands Cardiology (Dr. Burke) on March 23rd. It happened a couple of times at the clinic, but then was over that day. I was also advised at that time to stop the caffeine pills, which I did.
On Sunday I didn’t take my caffeine pill in the morning. I started getting a headache around 2-3 pm and I ended up having a half-caff chai latte around then to try to help the headache. Later that evening I had a couple of mild palpitations around then, but that was it.
On Monday I had a couple more heart palpitations, but nothing severe. Then on Tuesday around 10:47 I had a palpitation that was a little more severe, a few seconds long. I proceeded to have about 20 more over the next hour and 20 minutes. It ended with a pretty bad one at 12:07pm. I was tempted to go to the ER again, but did not.
After Tuesday things were fine for a while. Felt totally fine from Wednesday through Sunday. I even hit the gym for a light workout Sunday afternoon.
Then on Monday morning, Feb 29, it started again, just while I was sitting normally at my desk. And it started to happen more and more often that day. Sometimes quite mild for only a couple of seconds, but sometimes it was severe and lasting 20-30 seconds. In the longer cases I was feeling dizzy, and out of breath, like I was about to pass out.
I called Kori and we ended up having lunch that day together at a park nearby. It happened throughout lunch. A couple times it lasted up to 30 seconds without me being able to stop it. I was a bit freaked out. But I didn’t want to false alarm an ER trip, so I tried going back to work. It lessened a little until about 2pm. I had decided to finish work from home, mostly so I didn’t cause a scene. On the drive home my heart was hiccuping (though mildly) like every other breath or so. I was very scared. I called my primary care and they said feeling dizzy and being close to passing out definitely constituted an ER trip. So I called Kori and drove straight to the Springhill Emergency Clinic instead of home. This time they hooked me up to the EKG and were able to see what was happening: SVT (Supra Ventrical Tachycardia).
Basically my heart was going double-time, either just throwing one extra beat, or sometimes getting stuck that way, beating double-time until I was able to reset it by either bearing down or coughing or something.
They prescribed me a beta blocker called Metoprolol or something like that. I have been on that ever since. When I first got on it, the extra beats continued more and I was worried, but they were pretty mild and after a couple of days my body adjusted to the medication. Luckily I haven’t had too many negative side effects or anything. So I have a cardiology appointment on the 23rd and my doctor said that until then, I’m not to play any drum gigs, or exert myself a lot at the gym. That really sucks on both counts.
So until the 23rd I took it easy and the medicine did its job for the most part.
On the 23rd I met with Dr. Burke at Shands Cardiology at Spring Hill. He took a look at my EKG, and immediately diagnosed it as Atrial Fibrillation. Basically, the top half of my heart is sending multiple mini-beats down sometimes to my lower chamber, and then sometimes my lower chamber starts trying to beat for all of them, causing a really rapid heart rate. It’s scary, but not nearly the death sentence it felt like. Dr. Burke was very hopeful for curing it in me. He started questioning me about my sleep habits and found I likely have pretty severe sleep apnea. I’ve known that I’ve been flirting with that for a long time, but had no idea that it could be that impactful. But the doctor said he sees sleep apnea-induced atrial fibrillation all the time. He also had some firm words about my health overall. Specifically my weight. Basically the cause of my “A-Fib” is a combo of sleep apnea and my obesity. Dr. Burke strongly recommended I get down to 180 lbs. That’s 70 lbs less than I weigh now.
I know that sounds daunting but honestly that whole appointment went about as awesome as it possibly could go.
And I feel more resolute in making a serious life change now.
It’s not just about my personal ego or good looks. It’s about being around for my family.
Another plus, he okayed me to start playing drums again. Very thankful for that.