}

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Regroup – again

Yesterday was one of those days that threw yet another curveball into this Health Journey of mine. It wasn’t completely terrible, but it was unwanted and more than a little frustrating. And yet, I’m still moving forward.

Yesterday morning I felt “unwell”, a little lightheaded, but mostly just odd. I checked my pulse on my Apple Watch, and it was really high (at that point, around 117 beats per minute). So, I next took my blood pressure, which was very high because I was a bundle of anxiety by then, and it confirmed a fast heart rate (I took my BP again a little while later, and it was in the normal range, though the BPM was still high).

I puzzled about what to, and at that point I thought it was tachycardia, like I had last year, and that’s very uncomfortable, by my type (SVT), isn’t really life threatening. So, I waited it out, and sometimes it went down, other times back up, even higher sometimes.

Nigel came home early yesterday, and was worried enough that he called our doctor, who said I should probably go get an ECG.

So, we went the same A&M in Takanini that we went to last year, and it became clear it wasn’t SVT—my heart rhythm was sometimes faster, sometimes slower, while SVT is steady but fast. The doctor called the hospital and spoke with the registrar who said I should come in for evaluation. (Note: An Accident and Medical clinic is a private after-hours medical clinic that handles low-level emergencies. It’s quicker to be seen at than a hospital’s Emergency Department)

So, Nigel drove me to Middlemore Hospital, and we reported to the Emergency Department (once we figured out how to get to it… Middlemore is a big, confusing maze). The nurse at their reception, who does the initial evaluation told a person in front of us that waiting time for them was SIX HOURS (this was at 6pm). This is mainly because of people going to the ED rather than a private doctor, and at Middlemore, that’s usually because they can’t afford a doctor and/or time off work to go to a doctor (hospital emergency rooms are free for citizens and most permanent residents). Patients are seen after critical cases (heart attacks, for example), so that’s the other reason why non-serious cases take so long to be seen.

We were waved through to the medical evaluation unit, of course, because we were asked to come to the hospital (well, I was). The unit is kind of like a specialised area not quite the ED or the “short stay” unit. Most patients stay only one night for evaluation and to stabilise their condition.

They hooked me up to a full ECG machine, they drew blood, and decided that what the A&M doctor thought: It was atrial fibrillation (aka AF), which is basically an irregular heartbeat. The problem is that the heart doesn’t always drain properly, may form clots, and they could cause a stroke or heart attack.

Now, as it happens, the drug I was put on for SVT (a calcium channel blocker) is good for AT, too, because it keeps hear rhythm normal, in part because AF is a form of SVT. So, they upped the dosage of that drug and lowered the dose on my blood pressure medication because the calcium channel blocker also lowers blood pressure, which was already good—they don’t want to lower it too much!

They also put me on what they called a “powerful” anti-clot drug, Dabigatran, so they stopped my low-dose aspirin.

A few weeks ago, I had a scan of my heart (which I mentioned before the appointment), and the doctors at the hospital had seen the report (which I haven’t). They said that the scan was normal. That’s basically why the prescription is the first option—structurally, my heart is operating normally, so they just need to fix the rhythm.

And that’s pretty much it for this latest side road in my Health Journey. I was never in any distress, pain, or anything, and I’m fine. And, it was dealt with because Nigel was my angel and rock of strength (yet again). Although, he did take the rather unflattering photo at right, which I shared with my personal Facebook post, which is what this post is based on. Still, I did tell him to take the photo!

Important note: This post is about my own personal health journey. My experiences are my own, and shouldn’t be taken as indicative for anyone else. Similarly, other people may have completely different reactions to the same medications I take—better or worse. I share my experiences because others may have the same or similar experiences, and I want them to know that they’re not alone. But, as always, discuss your situation and how you’re feeling openly, honestly, and clearly with your own doctor, and always feel free to seek a second opinion from another doctor.

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