Friday, February 6, 2009

The New Squeaky Wheel


Well it seems only fitting that today, National Red Dress Day,  I'd talk about the heart. 

My son is a wonderful man.  Growing up, he never really caused me any trouble.  I'm sure he's responsible for one or two of my gray hairs, but certainly not all of them.  He was just 18 months old when my youngest was born, and he spent many years in her shadow.  Her overwhelming needs most certainly dwarfed his own.  

When my son became a teen, he began to complain about his chest feeling funny.  He'd say his heart felt like it was beating out of his chest and he was short of breath.  Every single time I'd listen to his heart or take his pulse, it was completely normal.  My dad and my neighbor had just died so I thought he'd found a physical way to express his grief.  Then one day he complained and I found this boy's pulse was racing so fast, I couldn't keep count.  I took him to the ER where they hooked him up to a monitor which showed nothing abnormal, just plain old vanilla sinus rhythm.  How boring.  We couldn't make his heart act up until the nurse stuck his arm with a needle.  Immediately, his heart rate jumped to 200 on the monitor and just as fast as the catheter was advanced in his arm, the rhythm was gone.

We were discharged home that day and followed up with a cardiac electrophysiologist.  My son had an electrophysiology (EP) study with empiric ablation.  More or less, the doctor zapped the tissue in the general area he thought was causing the problem.  It didn't really help except now when my son felt the rapid rhythm coming on, it was always preceded by a thump he could feel.  We were back to square one.  We changed doctors and over a few weeks, my son wore a cardiac event monitor which he'd press whenever he felt his heart racing.  You know it's not good when a cardiologist calls your home on a Saturday and starts talking about sustained heart rates of 200 to 220. We saw a different EP doc who took him to the cath lab and tried again to fry the piece of tissue in his heart that was causing his condition of AVNRT, but because of sedation, they were unable to get the heart to act up during this visit.  Sick of it all, we looked to medications to help, and through trial and error, found the drug metoprolol to be the most beneficial.  For years, he's been stable and I can look at him without thinking of his heart.

Fast forward to today.  Thinking nothing of it, I sent him to the doctor for dizziness.  I'd checked his blood pressure, heart rate and listened to the rhythm.  I thought I heard a new murmur but didn't think much of that.  Just as I was getting ready for work, the phone rang.  It was the family practice doctor telling me he thought my son had signs of an aortic aneurysm and he was concerned about a prominent new carotid bruit.  WHAT???  I did what any seasoned ICU nurse would do:  I broke down sobbing.  I'm telling you, I was chicken little and called to anyone who would listen that the sky was falling.  Wisely, one of them was the cardiologist.  She, who is the voice of reason, called the cardiology department at the small hospital I used to work at and had them stay late to see us.  Today, we've had one meltdown, one 2 D Echo with Colorflow Doppler and one Bilateral Carotid Artery Ultrasound.  All was well.  There is no aortic aneurysm, no bruit and I am a useless blob of spent energy with several new gray hairs.  My sweetyheart  is still dizzy, but he is not in an operating room.  Now may be a good time to crack that bottle of red-it's the right color for today.

17 comments:

the rotten correspondent said...

Jesus Christ. You guys don't do anything halfway, do you?


I hope you're solidly in the red zone right about now. And also that you NEVER have to go through another day like this.

Aortic aneurysm. Sweet Jesus.

laurie said...

oh my god.

what a terrible day.

and here i clicked over to tell you that if you go to macys tomorrow, wear red. that's how i got the 20 percent off--

but clearly you already know all about the importance of the heart.

Rudee said...

RC and Laurie: A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. His GP had me convinced things weren't so good. While driving to fetch my son from the doc's office, the cardiologist called and talked me down off the ledge. I thanked God for her today. It WAS a terrible day that ended well. I will wear red and my red dress pin tomorrow Laurie.

debra said...

WOW. I'd love to say something comforting and profound. Not happening. So....WOW. and hugs.

Miss 376 said...

Not easy being a mum is it, and it never seems to get any easier. Glad the day ended well

flydragon said...

jeeze louise, what a day you had!!! Hope that bottle of red helped at least a little bit.

Rose said...

Scary, scary, scary. I hope everything is going well now. And DEFINITELY red wine is in order.

Winifred said...

I know exactly how you feel. We went through that with my son from being a baby until he had his heart op at 10 years old. It totally drains you, you ache in every part of your body.

Thankfully he's fine but what a day you had. A few grey hairs there I bet.

Rositta said...

Geesh that was a horrible day. They do ablation without sedation here now for a better success rate. I had to be sedated but I was told it was still 95% successful. I was also told that it could be done up to three times before I'd need a pacemaker. So far so good though. I guess metoprolol is good for some people, it just didn't work for me. Definitely a red wine day...ciao

Sandy said...

Rudee!!! What a stressful event for you and the family..and of course your son. So everything turned out normal...whew!!! I sure hope you did have a little "red" and got some peace and calmness. I would have been a basket case too...

Brenda said...

Glad to hear it turned okay. You have so many things going on right now, you wear me out just reading about them all. I know very little about the medication or condition your son has. It sounds very frustrating though to try and diagnose. He sounds like such a sweetie, I hope he is better. This condition is nothing like mitral valve is it? I know a little about that from a friend, who was only treated with Valium for that. Happy Red Day..hope you get some much needed rest!

Rudee said...

Rositta, he doesn't want ablation again because he'd have to be awake. He feels the two asleep were bad enough.

Winifred, you do indeed know how I feel.

Fly, Miss, Debra and Sandy, thank you. I'm better today but still exhausted, and at 4pm, I'm still in my jammies.

Brenda, my son was born with an extra piece of electrical tissue that causes electricity to go down the right way and then back up the wrong way in a circuit. This makes his heart beat insanely fast. Sounds like your friend has arrhythmia from mitral valve prolapse-equally frustrating. His medication to control it is in short supply-no profit in making the drug.

Karen said...

Oh my goodness - I'm just reading your post, what a day you had! I'm so glad that everything turned out ok. Have a peaceful weekend, and pour yourself another glass of red.

Rudee said...

Thanks Karen. I had 2 glasses of wine with dinner. I'm thinking about the rest of the bottle. Even though it's been a day, I still feel all worn out.

Jane said...

Love and hugs, Rudee. xx

Lisa L said...

My god, I just read this Rudee...so sorry...I hope he's feeling better..and I would have most certainly finished the bottle.

Betty Flocken said...

I'm so glad your doctor was wrong! Hope your son is still feeling o.k. Wish I had the RED wine to hand to you! I'm sending you a belated hug instead.