Titillating Tachycardia

Reports of my demise are highly exaggerated.

For those who haven’t heard, I paid a prolonged and unexpected visit to an emergency room on Wednesday. There I was, sitting at my desk doing some last-minute queries sipping a decaf iced coffee I’d acquired from Dunkin’ Donuts, when I’d started feeling somewhat odd. Not to be a worry-wart, I shrugged it off and continued banally pounding-out horrifying SQL resplendent with awe-inspiring and highly convoluted JOIN statements when my heart began pounding like I’d just finished a brisk 20-minutes playing DDR.

To this date, nothing like that has ever happened to me, so I was understandably surprised and somewhat intrigued. Instead of whipping out a magnifying glass and unearthing otherworldly clues, I leapt up and commenced pacing back and forth, hoping in some strange way, to burn off this unexpected surge in energy. Even when I walk the mile to work, my heart doesn’t work nearly so hard, so even pacing felt insufficient. My boss decided to call an ambulance, even after my protests, because a person with a heart condition experiencing impromptu tachycardia is always an emergency and I was trying not to be a bother.

The ambulance showed up quickly, but not fast enough to catch the problem. My heart went almost back to normal by the time they arrived, and I was left feeling shaken but rather sheepish. They suggested I accompany them to the hospital, but noted they’re required to IV anyone experiencing cardiac conditions. At the time, I assumed this was a one-time thing, and I would indeed immediately cart myself to a hospital, but only as a formality. A laugh!

My boss’s boss and a coworker drove me to the hospital and during registration, I experienced a second episode; alarmed, they took me, shaking and oddly sweating, to a machine to confirm my heart-rate at a smooth 125, sailing past twice my normal rate, launched by the harrowing experience of sitting in a chair filling out paperwork. Well shit. Somehow before the hospital swallowed my quivering form, I put a message through to my cardiologist, and told Jen of my predicament and begged her not to drive up, since she was slated to move in three days and still needed to pack. Sadly, this was not to be.

Eventually I was hooked up to no less than two IVs and robbed of about five or six tubes of blood, administered some kind of sedative, a beta-blocker, a blood-thinner, and $Deity knows what else. Even after all that, my heart-rate never dropped below 80 until sometime around midnight. Let me say now that getting blood-pressure taken when hooked-up to an IV is rather disconcerting, as the pressure forces the IV to operate in reverse. For reference, my resting pulse is somewhere between 45 and 50. All told, there were three separate occasions where my pulse exceeded 120 for basically no discernible reason.

They kept me overnight for observation. Jen arrived sometime around 10pm after a hair-raising adventure attempting to locate which hospital admitted me, and procured a recliner chair to sleep in after establishing she was allowed to stay. I slept badly trussed up to an IV with a leg-massaging machine meant to ensure I didn’t suffer clots, and breathing through a probably unnecessary oxygen tube.

The morning, more blood, more drugs, and more than a few interviews by nurse practitioners and a doctor or two, I was discharged with instructions to follow-up with my cardiologist, and avoid all caffeine and alcohol, as well as ensure 7-8 hours of sleep every night–all things known to influence increased heart-rate. Was that iced coffee I sipped for nearly three hours on Wednesday actually decaf? The world may never know. But ever since that day, my heart has felt somehow on edge, like it could lapse into elevated sinus rhythm at any second, and it’s much worse when I’m immobile. I sense a lot of pacing in my immediate future. I’ll know more on Thursday.

Until Tomorow