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My Heart Will Go On

The short answer is that I'm fine, despite the ambulance trip to the ER, the 160-200bpm pulse for three hours last night, and the fact that my heart stopped for a few seconds last night to get it back to normal. Exciting, yeah?

Well, I suffer from a heart defect called supraventricular tachycardia. I had a really bad episode, starting at around 8p on Thursday night. I had been in somayyouall's room, talking, when it started. I've been trying to catch the actually heart rate phenomenon on record, so to speak, for three months, so I pull out the little event monitor thingie the cardiologist gave me and record my pulse. somayyouall walks me down the hall to my room, because I was feeling a little unsteady. I get to my chair, which would be a good place to sit while I wait it out, and call in the event to the monitor company. By the time I get off the phone with them, I'm feeling terrible, much worse than usual: dizziness; nausea and over-active gag reflex, but no vomiting; shortness of breath; sharp chest pain; pins and needles pain in my face, neck, back, and sides; stomach cramps; joint pain; and a rather amusing inability to put weight on anything, so I couldn't stand and could barely hold the phone. I IM somayyouall, so I'm not alone, and call Dr. Mom, who tells me to call the advice nurse for my HMO.

Three transfers through their system (and a few HIPA jokes, somayyouall's mom is a doc, too) later, they say to call 911. somayyouall tells my mother and I call 911. More listing of symptoms -- I had to list them all off each time I talked to someone, and each time there were more symptoms -- and then we go through trying to get me emergency personnel. They had a lot of trouble figuring out exactly where my building is on campus, and by this time I was on the verge of hysterical laughter. They finally figure it out and we call Mom again before gathering my keys, ID, and coat to get ready for the EMTs and the like. Then we begin the clown-car effect.

First, the cop shows up, one of the campus types, and starts gathering my symptoms and information. Then the first set of EMTs, the campus ones, show up, and go through the whole thing again. They also try to get a blood pressure reading on me -- the biggest problem that SVT causes is it wrecks havoc on the blood pressure -- and can't. At this point the county EMTs show up. There were at least eight emergency personnel in my tiny dorm room, plus me in front of my comp and somayyouall in a corner watching. They hook me up to a heart monitor to be able to watch my heartrate (and watch it fluctuate like crazy) and then get a pressure reading. One of the EMTs starts putting me through the processes to try to get the damn thing to stop by itself (increase internal pressure), but that only made it worse for a bit. Then they slide me from my chair to the cot and roll me down the hall and into the elevator, with somayyouall in tow because I can't do this alone. By this point I've been symptomatic for about two hours.

When we get down to the ambulance the roll me right in and then start poking my veins to put in an IV. The poor tech misses the first time, as I'm laying there white knuckled because I really don't like needles, so he has to switch to the other arm. I only start crying at this point, when he sticks me the second time and insert the IV, and I'm hysterical for a bit there. As soon as I'm plugged in they get going to the hospital, and the tech in the back with me has me do more pressure exercises and explains the drug he'll be giving me if the chest pain gets worse or my blood pressure drops. Basically, this med stops the heart, and they pump it through the system for a few seconds so the heart will stop, thus letting the normal heartbeat to take over again. I'm not encouraged by this, and so pay attention to watching my heartrate bounce.

More info trading in the ER, and then two EKGs, and the doctor decides that they're going to administer the drug now despite my protests. But they do it anyway. They have to do it twice, because the first time it doesn't actually affect anything, but I could feel it both times. Worse the second time, of course, but still.

It's a really scary concept, really, stopping the heart to get it going again. At the time I was more worried about the pain, though, to be totally honest. It was like that burning sensation you get in your legs when you've been running too hard or you stop too quickly, but full body. You almost feel like you're suffocating, but only for a few seconds, and then it's over. It's really tough to explain quite how scary it is. I knew my lungs were working, I was breathing in and out, but I couldn't seem to get the air past the back of my throat. For that few seconds, the nurse was moving my blood, pushing it as hard as she could to flush the stuff past.

That was the end of all the excitement, obviously. I went home afterwards, and I didn't go to school today, because I just couldn't handle it and I needed the sleep. I missed the ANTH midterm, so I have to have a fight with the prof on Monday, in addition to my meeting with God. Should be amusing, but I can pull the heart defect card if necessary. And, oh, I will.

All that I've got as evidence of all this is crazy-ass bruising on the insides of my elbows. I swear, it looks like I'm a junkie, between the bruising and the needle holes. 'S very sexy, let me tell you. Got to make sure I don't have the sleeves rolled up when I go to see God.

I've got an appointment with the cardiologist on Friday, and we going to start planning the surgery to fix all of this for over winter break. More on that when we get to it.

Also, in case you want to see it, somayyouall's version of events.
Tags: college, mel the medical marvel

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