Holter Skelter

Appointment at the cardiologist was pretty uneventful. Dr. Mendelson seemed surprised I’m doing so well with such a diverse and staggering quantity of heart defects. She asked me a couple times who referred me, and why I was there, but my answer never wavered: I want a Cardiologist familiar with, and who has seen many other adult congenital heart patients. And here’s the funny part: she more than proved my point.

I’m currently wearing a 48-hour Holter monitor. It’s basically an automated EKG that constantly monitors a heart for 48 hours so they can see the entire range of its normal activity. The electrodes are attached with three different types of tape, and she had to shave part of my chest to get enough surface area–a few more, and I could be a mummy! It’s tempting to think it’s kinda cool, but I really worry about how I’ll sleep with all this crap attached, like hungry leeches drawing fresh sustenance into a particularly bulky beholder. But alas, I can’t diagnose palpitations or premature ventricular contractions or bradycardia because I can’t really objectively feel them. This can efficiently plunge through the veil and make it fairly obvious how I’m doing day to day. She also scheduled a stress echocardiogram–which I’ve never had–to observe how my heart reacts to workload. After all that, she will know enough to give me general guidelines.

To contrast: while the University of Chicago did perform a cardiac MRI, they only did so after flailing for two hours staring confusedly at my innards during a regular echo on two separate occasions. Those are the only tests they ordered aside from the usual genetic tests I hadn’t yet submitted myself to. Dr. Mendelson tried to claim they see patients like me “all the time,” and while I doubt the specific veracity of that statement, the attempted supposition suggests–at the very least–passing familiarity.

The thing I’ll never quite understand, is why I’m so unique in my current exercise capacity. When she asked me if I exercise, and I told her about my DDR habit, she looked at me as though I was sporting freshly buffed unicorn-horn. Then she asked how long I exercised. My usual answer: two or three hours, with most of that above 170bpm, sent her eyes wide. She could only respond with “Wow!” After satisfying herself I kept myself properly hydrated during these exploits, she shook her head in disbelief and briefly glanced down to the list of seven separate heart defects she’d just written down from my medical history.

Oh, and the new guidelines concerning taking antibiotics before dentist appointments to prevent bacterial endocarditis don’t apply to me. Apparently I have enough complications that I’m high-risk, so that means I still gotta take a couple pills before setting foot in a dentist office.

Until Tomorrow