Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My Trip to the Hospital!

"O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you restored my health." - Psalm 30:2

I apologize for not posting more frequently on my blog lately. I've found myself extremely busy with work and under a lot of stress with all the things going on in my life on a daily basis. In fact, the stress from the past month finally caught up to me recently.

Beginning around September 20, I began to notice that I was having an irregular heartbeat that felt like a skipped beat or extra beat. I didn't think anything of it because I have had this happen every now and then, but it was never consistent. However, over the course of the next several weeks, I noticed that it was happening more frequently.

As of this past Friday, the irregular heartbeats began happening throughout the day and that evening. It was becoming more intense to the point that I could feel a tightening of my chest with each irregular beat as well as a feeling of shortness of breath. I began to wonder what was causing it, but I figured it would go away in time.

Unfortunately, as the weekend went on, it increased in frequency and intensity to the point that almost every heartbeat was an irregular beat on Sunday. That evening, I finally told Stacey that I was having some issues with my heart but that I wasn't too concerned about it and would make an appointment with my primary doctor to have it checked out. However, I awoke at 3am in a pool of sweat with my heart beating much harder and more frequently than before. I was beginning to worry, so I awakened Stacey and said, "I think we need to go to the Emergency Room."

We arrived shortly before 4am and I was admitted to the ER where they performed an EKG, took a chest X-ray, listened to my heart, monitored my heartbeat and other vitals and drew some blood. I have no risk factors for heart issues since I don't drink or smoke, I don't use drugs, I'm not overweight or diabetic, I don't use caffeine, I'm very fit and in shape and have no history of heart problems.

The doctor said I was having premature ventricular complexes (PVCs). PVCs are extra electrical impulses arising from one of the cardiac ventricles, usually the left ventricle causing an irregular heartbeat or "skipped beat." Many people have PVCs, however, they rarely notice them or they don't happen often enough to warrant any concern. In my case, I was able to feel them, and they were happening so often that I thought I was having serious heart problems.

After all the testing, they said that I was in perfect health (which I would have thought!). My blood pressure was great throughout the testing, my resting heart rate was perfect (in the 40's), all my blood work came back favorable, my chest X-ray was clear, my EKG was normal (except for the PVCs), and I passed the Stress Test with flying colors.

The cardiologist explained that stress was the cause of the PVCs as I had no other health or risks that would indicate any problems with my heart. I have to admit that I have been under a tremendous amount of stress with work during the last few weeks in addition to many everyday stresses (good and bad). These PVCs began right around the time my stress began to increase at work.

Upon returning home from the hospital on Monday, I relaxed for most of the afternoon and took a nap. I wanted to workout, as that is one way I de-stress each day. It took a little while to get myself motivated and ready to go (without using caffeine as a pick-me-up), but once I began to warm-up, I felt good and had a great workout.

My goal now is to find ways to help de-stress and not worry about so many things with work and life. I work at an advertising agency, and there are many stressful days from deadlines, client requests, etc. So I just need to find other ways to deal with those stressors in addition to other stress from finances, daily responsibilities, finding time for various pursuits, etc.

Besides my weekly workouts (which are a great way to deal with stress), I have set aside some personal time each evening for bible study and prayer. I have found that this greatly calms me and helps ease my stress. I will also need to readjust the way I approach stress in my life so I don't have more instances of PVCs in the future.