Sunday, 19 July 2009

Long time no see

_WARNING - majorly long post_
It has been a busy few months. A mad rush to get all my college assignments in on time - which paid off when I got the letter this week telling me I'd passed with Distinction :) Yep, that made the past 2 years of hard work, stress, wondering if it was all worth it totally worthwhile. I'm signed up for the degree at the same college, and get to do it part-time over 3 years instead of 4 because of my results from the HND. Its such a nice feeling being able to be proud of myself. At school I was bullied. Not badly, but enough that I deliberately tried to hide it when I did well, or try to do badly so I didn't stand out. Ha! No chance of that now. I've worked damn hard, and I deserve good grades, so I'm going to be proud of myself for a change. John was here when I opened the letter, and having him hug me and tell me how proud he was really made it a perfect moment. I was shaking and my heart was pounding - it was quite funny!

I got another couple of letters yesterday - one had the information about the graduation ceremony in September, and one saying I'm getting the prize for my course :) I had known there was one, and it had been my aim to try my best for it, but with all the stress of moving etc, I'd totally forgotten til the letter came. I was feeling scared of the future, and wondering if Law was the right career for me, but this has totally persuaded me.

Had my yearly blood pressure check with the nurse at my GP's practice this week. No problems with that, she didn't even bother weighing me as she thought I looked exactly the same as last year (phew!). I thought it was worth asking her about my weird heart 'thing.' Okay, a brief explanation. Since I was about 12 I started getting a weird heartbeat at times for no apparent reason. Sometimes it would be irregular - kinda like an improvised Jazz drum beat (this happened when I was about to have my wisdom teeth out, and I didn't even realise the noise I could hear on the monitor was my heart beat - it was that bizarre). It lasts from just a few seconds, to half an hour. Its feels horrible and scary and makes me dizzy, but it goes away as suddenly as it starts. More recently, it has tended to be a different kind of strange beat - it suddenly starts beating at about 200 times a minute (usually I'm a bout 60). It feels like I need to cough, like I have a wheezy chest, if that makes sense. It can start suddenly when I'm just sitting doing nothing. Usually it feels like its beating so fast its not beating hard enough, but a couple of months ago it started beating that fast, and so hard it was making my shoulder jerk. Lasted about 10 minutes, and just as I was about to think I needed to see a doctor, it stopped. I have seen the doctor about it a few times in the past, and even had a 24 hour trace. Of course it didn't happen in that time (Sod's Law of course), so the doctors decided that it was just stress and I should try to avoid caffeine, and other stimulants. Basically they thought it was either a panic attack or all in my head. I'm quite a sensitive person, so I felt really awful. I knew it was real, but everyone told me it couldn't be too bad or it would have been picked up.

I gave blood last year for the first time last year. On the form you have to fill in, I explained about the weird heart beat. They didn't want to let me donate in case it put too much stress on me, but I told them what the Drs had said - that it was just stress related. So the nurse that was in charge said they'd let me that time, but I had to be really careful, and if I go the weird heartbeat thing afterwards to go straight to A&E. So I gave blood, and was fine. Til about half an hour after I got home. I washed up, then sat down for a rest. Then my heart started to beat at 200 beats a minute. John and the kids were in bed, and I didn't want to wake them up. Thought everyone would think it was an over-reaction to something that was normal after giving blood. The increased heart rate lasted for 2 hours. The next day I spoke to my friends and relatives who have given blood, and did lots of research on the Internet. Seems its was not a normal reaction, and no one I know has had anything like that - just a bit of tiredness which goes away after they've slept.

So I spoke to the nurse. Told her all of this. And she nodded and smiled, and UNDERSTOOD! Even my family were thinking it was all in my head. She said it may have become normal for me, but it was NOT normal. In fact you shouldn't usually be aware of your heart beat! I am usually aware of it. She's booked me in for a 2 week trace. I have to wear the monitor for up to 2 weeks and if I have an 'episode' during that time, I press a button and it records it. Then I see the GP who refers me to the Cardiologist if they think its necessary. I just want a name for it. I just want to finally be able to say 'I'm not just a hypochondriac - this is real!'

I've been doing some reading on the Internet. OK, never a good idea, but there are some Arrhythmia sites which are helpful. And scary, but mostly helpful. I figure that I haven't dropped down dead yet, so whatever it is that I get probably isn't dangerous. And possibly treatable. But its such a relief to talk about it have have someone understand and know they believe me. To coin a phrase, its a weight off my chest knowing its finally being understood.

One of the things I've been to the doctor repeatedly for over the past few years is extreme tiredness. I've been tested for anaemia, diabetes, under/over active thyroid, and various illnesses, with all the results being nagative, and being told thats its just normal tiredness for a mother. But none of my friends have the same tiredness levels when they're well. And I've found out its another symtom of arrhythmia. So much is falling into place.

Sorry for the long post - really needed to unburden :)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jo, found your blog through Kirstys so hope you dont mind.
    Was really interested to read about your heart 'thingy' Ive had problems with mine for years and years -over 20. Sometimes mine feels like its stopped beating, then I get like an involuntary cough and it 'starts' up again, usually faster. Years ago I was admitted to intensive care as my heartrate went through the roof. They couldnt find out what it was, I had scans and all sorts of tests.I wore a telemetry monitor for a while but by the time I got the button pressed when I was having an episode it was too late!
    That particular time it was up to 187. Its terrifying when it happens isnt it? Ive been on betablockers since then, all they can say is its a hyperdynamic heart rate (only thing about me that is dynamic but there you go!)
    I was tired beyond belief for years but put that down to the medication at first, then 7 years ago I was diagnosed with M.E. Took them about 2 years to find out what it was. I put it down at first to husband having brain haemorrhage,then getting divorced, then moving house, and a million other 'minor' things! So there you go. You are not alone!!! Probably hasnt helped but you never know.
    Will keep watching and see what your results are if thats okay with you? Take care..........oh and LOVED the pictures by the way -hope your dress can be salvaged!
    Sue x