Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Maybe this time

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: I met with a cardiologist and it’s promising. Yes, that’s happened before. Maybe this time it really will lead to something better.

This morning, I had my private appointment with the cardiologist, and I’m happy with the result. He’s going to try to get me on the waiting list for the cryoablation, and, in the meantime, he’s changing my drugs to ones that, hopefully, won’t make me so !*#$%&@ tired all the time. He’s also changing my blood thinner to one that doesn’t have the gastrointestinal side effects of the one I’m on now. In short, it went exactly as I’d hoped, because regardless of when the procedure is done, I still need to change medication now so that I can have some life in my life until then.

The new drug to help control my heart rate will be Felodipine, which was actually the first drug I was put on for blood pressure control back in 2016. It will replace Diltiazem, a drug which I was put on back in June 2018 to try and prevent tachycardia without using beta blockers. I was exhausted, so they reduced the dosage of my statin. Then, I was hospitalised for afib in September of that year, and they increased the dosage of Dilitiazem. In May of last year, I was hospitalised again for afib, and that meant having my heart rebooted. They decreased the dose of Dilitiazem and added a new one, a potentially dangerous drug called Amiodarone. That’s what I’ve been on ever since.

The cardiologist asked me about my typical resting pulse rate, and how high it gets when I’m active, and I told him it was in the 60s or low 70s at rest, but didn’t go much above 100 even when I was doing something vigorous. He asked if I thought that’s why I was tired, and I was pretty emphatic in saying yes, because it’s been my suspicion for a long time. The Felodipine shouldn’t slow me down as much. Well, that’s the hope, anyway.

The current drug cocktail leaves me feeling extremely tired all the time, so much so that I can’t even do ordinary stuff around the house: There’s just no gas in the tanks. On the other hand, it’s also kept me out of afib for some 17 months, the longest streak without it by far.

So, I may possibly have increased energy levels, but what I’m afraid of is that it may not control my heart rhythm and I may end up in afib. However, if I end up in hospital, I may get the procedure faster, so there’s that, I suppose.

The other change is that removing the anti-clot drug Dabigatran, which they also put me on back in September 2018. The new drug is Rivaroxaban, a drug also used, among other things, to prevent strokes in people with afib. It has fewer side effects, in particular, the gastrointestinal side effects that I’ve dealt with for two years. However, the new drug has a higher risk of bleeding, which is concerning. In a perfect world, I (hopefully…) wouldn’t need to be on it as long as I’ve been on Dabigatran, and the less time I’m on it, the less the risk. Rivaroxaban’s also taken only once per day, unlike the other, which is twice a day.

I’ll fill the prescription for both and start them in a week or so (because otherwise the drugs I currently have would need to be thrown away, and I hate that kind of waste). After all, I’m changing not because they aren’t working, but because they’re keeping me tired all the time.

Today I wore Nigel’s bracelet because he’d have gone with me if he was still alive, and that was my way of bringing him with me, something I especially do at times when, like today, I need him the most. I know he’d be happy, and also proud of me, that I keep pushing this. I know he’d be pushing on my behalf, moving mountains, if need be. That was him.

Huge thanks to my sister-in-law for going with me today. It was great to have someone who understands medical stuff (she’s a nurse), but it was even more important to have someone there as an advocate and support. Here in New Zealand it’s quite common for people to have what’s usually called “whānau support” at meetings like that—basically, a trusted friend or family member goes with you. I’m so lucky that I have such an awesome and supportive whānau.

As before (many times over now…), I hope that today’s cardiologist appointment really will lead to something better this time. Maybe. Hope is strong, but not necessarily rational. I’ll probably know either way soon enough.

This post is a greatly expanded version of something I posted to my personal Facebook earlier today.

Important note: This 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.


Roger Owen Green said...

Good deal.
I've been taking my BP every day for the past 12 days, at the same time (830, give or take 10 minutes), before breakfast. It varies by 20 points, despite wanting to create the same environment. But never above 132 systolic.

Arthur Schenck said...

That's good. I found out along the way that BP "normal" increases with age. However, I've never been able to remember to take mine every day. My heart rate is recorded by my watch automatically, so there's that, at least, and I can check it easily if I'm concerned about it.