Matters of the heart
No, this is not an in-depth look into my emotions or spiritual state. 🙂
When I had an appointment the other week with my new doctor, I mentioned that I get palpitations. I said this with a wince, because the last time I mentioned my heart to a doctor, it was to my OB was when I was pregnant with Audrey. He sent me to a cardiologist who ROLLED HIS EYES at me, because apparently, it’s common for pregnant women to get palpitations when they are pregnant, and he literally said, “So, you have palpitations. You’re pregnant. What are you doing here??” He cardiologist went out of his way with exaggerated words and body language to let me know I was being an ginormous waste of his time, especially when he didn’t see anything on the electrocardiogram that was of interest to him. However, I still have palpitations off and on, and thought I should mention it to my new doc. She thought maybe it was due to a malabsorption issue, due to celiac disease, but without batting an eyelash, she ran an electrocardiogram, which did show some abnormalities. She attempted to explain these to me, in a way that went WAY over my head, yet I found myself thankful that she was using it as a teaching moment, and discussing it fully with me, and sending me to a cardiologist.
I met yesterday with the cardiologist. It was a profoundly interesting appointment. I liked him a ton. He was very interesting, didn’t belittle my presence at all, explained things fully in a way I understood, encouraged me to Google what he was telling me so that I might understand them further, and he had a clear plan of action. He also — like my old OB — explained how he was writing up his diagnoses and recommendations very carefully for insurance purposes, so that it would be less likely that I get backed into a corner by any insurance company, later on down the road. He also agreed with both my former OB and my former primary care doctor, who had suggested to me that I be satisfied with a diagnosis of “presumed celiac disease” and NOT submit to a gluten challenge nor a biopsy, because as of now, CD is not on any “official” record, yet I’m loads healthier on a g.f. diet.
Probably the most interesting thing to me to learn from that appointment is that my palpitations are actually called PVCs, which are essentially extra heartbeats. He said that it is very common in patients with celiac disease, and in those who are not faithful to a g.f. diet (or undiagnosed), it can get out of control, with patients placed in ICU with a heart that’s racing out of control. He also said that he has diagnosed several patients with celiac disease after treating them for PVCs. He mentioned that PVCs in celiacs are a good indication that they’ve gotten ahold of some gluten. That would fully explain why I tend to have multiple episodes of PVCs each day for 2-3 days in a row, then they disappear for several weeks. I must be getting gluten somewhere, and I can use any PVC occurrence to help me detect the source!
Also of interest is — he did agree that my blood pressure was quite low — at his office (and people typically test higher in a doctor’s office than they do at home/rest, due to the stress of just being there), it was 110/60. He suggested that, especially with my history of fatigue and not feeling refreshed in the morning after a good night’s sleep, to drink an electrolyte-containing drink in the morning. It will raise my blood pressure 5 points or so, which will make me feel more energetic. Plus, the electrolytes will enable me to better-absorb water throughout the day! I drink a ton of water, but there are often times when I will nearly black out upon rising from sitting or lying, and that is usually from low blood pressure + dehydration.
Things that need further investigation are that it appears that I also have mitral valve prolapse and quite possibly Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome, since there are “weird electrical things going on in the bottom of [my] heart.” Both of those things are things to keep an eye on, which the cardiologist plans on doing, but are not of immediate concern. And, importantly to me, nothing that I have or even potentially have requires medication.
I’m going to have an echocardiogram in a couple of weeks (a heart ultrasound), and he wants me to wear a 30-day event monitor (to be hooked up, also in a couple of weeks). The event monitor is cool; when I feel something weird, I press a button and it remotely faxes an ECG to the doctor’s office. Alternately, if anything weird happens with my heart, it will beep at me, and I press a button to fax…
It’s not like I’m happy that there’s something “weird” going on with my heart. But, I’m thrilled that the cardiologist took me seriously; it is so demoralizing to be treated like a twit and/or a hypochondriac by a doctor. And, I’m happy that it appears that, whatever’s going on, it’s benign (or very nearly so). And, I’m very happy that whatever the case is, no medication is necessary. 🙂
All in all, good news.
The appointment for Fiala?? Not so stellar, but more on that later.