Early morning Valentine’s Day 2011 - just after midnight. I have been having fluttering sensations in my chest for three days now. I have been shrugging them off. Couldn't be my heart. Could it? A visit to the ER, a Halter monitor, a beta blocker, an appointment with a Cardiologist and a recommendation to get a good therapist was my gift on Valentines Day (along with the nice card and Nook Book Cover from my Hubby!)
Diagnosis: HEART PALPITATIONS
A Valentine’s Day chat with my featured Guest…My HEART!
Heart: Hello it’s me again dear.
Me: Yeah I feel you.
Heart: Yes you do. And do you know why?
Me: Well, maybe it’s best if you tell me. I mean, I just started exercising regularly last month and lost ten pounds!
Heart: You are the big shot Registered Nurse now. You should know.
Me: Alright but I am fresh off nursing school.
Heart: You are just full of excuses.
ME: Protective coping skills!
Heart: Well, it has been nice that you are giving me a workout and have cut out many bad foods but I really needed to give you some input and I thought Valentines Day was appropriate. There are some things we need to discuss and I am afraid that you will drop the good habits like you always do and go back to slacking. What are you thinking?
ME: I am scared out of my mind that you have been jumping out of my chest non-stop for the last 3 days. I mean, what the hell are you doing?
Heart: giving you a Valentines gift – a WAKEUP CALL.
Me: couldn’t you use something less scary?
Heart: Nope. I tried other things before and now I am saying you better get it together or you will hear from me in a much different way. And it will be much scarier, it may hurt and guess what – I could just stop beating all together if I want.
Me: control freak.
Heart: slacker…but I love you.
Me: well I love you too.
Heart: Prove it!
Me: Alright I’m listening.
Heart: Let’s talk about stress and how you deal.
Me: I have been feeling high strung lately. It has been hard for me to relax. Stress has been my middle name for almost three years now. ARGHHHHH
Heart: Remember the Flight or Fight hormones that they taught about in school? Stress causes the release of these hormones and it puts a lot of stress on me. Is it really necessary for you to be so uptight about little things and care so much about being perfect?
Me: sounds like I could use a good therapist.
Heart: Now you’re talking sense. I mean, you kind of are a control freak.
Me: yeah I know.
Heart: Well try to stop it – ok?
Me: I can try but I need to be in charge!
Heart: You need to relax.
Me: Sounds like I could use a good therapist…again.
Heart: OK let’s talk about your Girth –
Me: Oh that is not a nice way to put it.
Heart: Fine. Let’s rename it to “Over the Recommended limit of Body Fat” Well, yoyo mama, why is it that you have lost and gained incrementally since you were 16?
Me: ummmm I Dunno. Maybe a protective thing that goes deeper than body fat?
Heart: Girl, you know every thing there is to know about dieting and losing weight. You could write a book. You worked at Jenny Craig, you have been hot and you have been cold. So here you are at the highest weight you have ever been! How do you think I like that up and down stuff? Remember what you did to me when you were 16 and you took Dexatrim and lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks? Remember Remember Remember? In fact do your remember visiting the ER then? Many years ago. Remember I was palpating your chest then, too? Remember once you fainted?
Me: Oh yeah I remember that...vaguely. I blocked most of it out. But I was at my lowest weight!!! Boys were checking me out!!
Heart: Yea and you were a mess.
Me: But I was a hot mess!
Heart: Let’s talk about working out.
Me: Lets not.
Heart: Remember when you were doing Step aerobics regularly and lifting weights for about a year? Do you remember how we felt?
Me: (faraway dreamy look) yeah….
Heart: WHY DID YOU STOP WORKING OUT?
ME: I can’t remember. I think I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I wasn’t working out for my health but to look good. So when there was no particular reason to look good, I dropped it. It was easy to stop. It was harder to continue.
Heart: So now are you interested in looking good?
Me: Yes I suppose I have some pride in my looks somewhere deep inside. It sucks shopping in the Plus size department. But I am not interested in looking good for any one person.
Heart: Well that’s good. But now let’s talk about your diet!
Me: Well I have been eating better lately…
Heart: Yes you have and I thank you for it, however you have started eating better many times before and stopped. WHY DID YOU STOP EATING RIGHT?
Me: Um I don’t know. Maybe that same deep psych stuff.
Heart: You do know what caffeine does to me right?
Me: But I loooooveeee coffee! Yum Yum Yum! It wakes me up and if I don’t drink it – wow do I get a bitch of a headache.
Heart: 5 cups of coffee is not considered breakfast you know.
Me: Really – there is quality calcium in half in half!
Heart: Remember that Grandma couldn't drink coffee because of Heart Palpitations!??
Me: sigh. I thought she was being dramatic.
Heart: And your love of sweets?
ME: blame it on my parents who always had sweets and yummy stuff around!
Heart: Quit passing the buck – you are an adult now. In fact you are a Crone!
ME: Quit being mean!
Heart: Can you say “My Father is a Diabetic?”
Me: Yes that hits the spot too.
Heart: Matter of fact, let me introduce you to my friend Meno-pause!
Me: Hello menopause? My name is Renee. I am 45 years old! Nice but maybe not so nice to meet you. I learned in Nursing school that the hormones that made me a mother also protected my heart. So now I am "waning" into a new stage of life (unfortunately Crone does not bring up images of aging beauty). What good stuff is in store for me to replace this loss?
Menopause: Sorry dear, those mama hormones are NO LONGER NECESSARY! So you will lose them along with your fertility and that's just too bad for you. Oh and your bones become brittle too. Less support for all your GIRTH. So deal with it CRYBABY!
Me: Menopause is so mean!
Heart: Yes she is always cranky. But now that you are approaching menopause, you have to think more about me! When we were young I could work around it – even when you broke me so many times in the past – I got over all that, and mended - right???
Me: Yea – slowly though.
Heart: you were never patient. So lets talk about your TERRIBLE SLEEP patterns.
Me: I hate that I can’t sleep at night.
Heart: Yeah it sucks for me too. I like to sleep, that when I repair. I need you to figure it out. Maybe by cutting the coffee and late night meals and managing stress, you can find a way to get some better Zzz’s
ME: What no Ambien?
Heart: Very funny. OK maybe for a little while.
Heart: One last thing. Your blood pressure can be high. I know that concerns you especially knowing the strain that it puts on me, your veins and arteries and your kidneys. Now this is something that I have worked around for years but I cannot protect you if the pressure causes a clot or embolism. Stroke sucks and you have seen the effects of it first hand in your nursing. Do you want to end up talking out of the side of your mouth?
Me: geez no. I have been trying to watch sodium.
Heart: True. But the stress that you put us under really seems to be the catalyst for your BP to rise. The older you get, the less durable your arteries are. Luckily you have low cholesterol. But that doesn’t mean you couldn’t throw a clot. A direct result would be a stroke, CAD or Pulmonary Embolysm which is a clot thrown to your lungs that will suffocate you. You literally drown.
Me: Scary…and so graphic!
Heart: So now that I put the squeeze on you for Valentines Day what are you thinking?
Me: That I have been a moron. And that I am lucky that you have been pretty strong through all the things I put you through. And that no damage has occurred and your EKG is normal except for those palpitations. And that you have settled down a lot since we visited the ER yesterday morning.
Heart: I really hope I don’t need to do this again.
Me: Nor I.
Heart: And your other organs actually asked me to speak for them too. Your lungs are heaving more, your liver has had to filter more fat than normal, your pancreas is already stressed and is thinking about slowing insulin production, your kidneys are slower with the raise in blood pressure, your bowels hate sugar, your bones have more pressure than ever on them, your skin has stretched and most of all your brain is very hard to reach.
Me: I see that. Thank you. This really has been a blessing in disguise – the ultimate Valentines Day gift from the Heart.
Heart: You’re Welcome! I knew you would see things my way!