More drugs please-11/13/2011

My heart has not gotten the memo that I am too busy to be sick. I can't keep running to the hospital willy-nilly, I've got school work to do! Well, this line of reasoning did me no good as I ended up in the hospital for the second time in a week. Although, at least this time it was planned.

I got out of the joint last Friday and balanced a great weekend with lots of couch time, resting the ol' ticker. We had Lauren and Jeff over on Sunday to watch the Cowboys squeak one past the Seahawks.

During the cheering and gabbing, suddenly I felt like my heart was racing, my vision narrowed, knees buckled, I got sweaty and nauseated, my chest hurt like mad and my whole body went numb like I'd had lidocaine injected everywhere. I was sure it was v-tach but that usually goes away after a few seconds. This kept going and going for about 5 minutes. Usually with this stuff I just grit my teeth and bear it until it passes, but it lasted so long I started to panic at the thought that it wasn't going to stop.

It finally did stop, and I was shaky but ok. I took it easy for the rest of the day and was ok, but then it happened again on Tuesday. Nick suggested we send a remote download of Sparky's info to the doc that night. The next day she called and told me I was having a lot of v-tach and we needed to do something about it. Sparky is my insurance policy against the v-tach stopping my heart, but these bad rhythms are not good to have regularly. So she gave me my options.

Option 1- ablation. This is where she threads a wire into my heart through a vein, finds the spot of my heart that is causing the bad electrical signal and burns it so it can't transmit an electrical signal anymore. We've talked about this before but man, it doesn't sound any better no matter how many times I hear it.

This procedure is a relatively big deal and it can take anywhere from 4-7 hours. There are normal surgery risks and also the remote chance of puncturing the wall of the heart. But this could permanently fix the v-tach and make it a non-issue. My doctor is fantastic at this procedure but I was still hesitant to jump right to this option.

Option 2- Increase one of my meds that controls v-tach. This may or may not work, but there isn't too much risk with this one, just the possibility that they will make me feel more run down, maybe to the point that I can't do my normal activities.

After a lot discussion, I decided to try to the meds first and see what happens over the next few weeks. If the meds don't work, we'll go the "burn the heart into submission" route.

So I've been on the extra drugs about 3 days now and I have to say I can tell they are taking their toll. I've been way more tired than usual and I'm finding I have to rest between things like taking a shower and getting ready or stopping halfway through doing the dishes. There is a good chance that this will ease up as I get used to the drugs, so I'll hope that's what will happen.

I go in for a check up in 2 weeks so we'll see what happens during that time. I'll keep you posted!


So much beeping- 11/5/11

Sigh. I'm tired. But for my public, I will carry on! (Oh, I do love the thought that I have a public)

It's been a very long few days but thought I would share a little about what's been going on since I've been a little sketchy with the details. Sorry Mom!

School has been going well- hitting the books hard and heavy. And this week was the start of the real challenges. Our first midterm and 24 (ok, not 24 but it feels like 24) other assignments.

Well, in the middle of all this, on Wednesday, I started to feel lousy. My blood pressure was tanking, my chest hurt (mildly) most of the time, and I was having weird heart rhythms that reminded me of v-tach. (V-tach, you'll remember, is when my heart starts quivering instead of beating and if it goes on for more than a few seconds, I pass out and Sparky shocks me back to a normal rhythm)

So I decide to go to the ER on Wednesday after talking with my doc and Nick. Nick was going to meet me there, and since I was feeling better by this point, I was going to drive myself over.

Ok, here is where I get the tongue lashing. Yes, I should have called someone to drive me. I do have lovely friends who would help me in a heartbeat. But I get really sick of playing the resident Golden Girl and needing rides to the hospital. So I took the bull by the horns and hopped in the car.

I got about 5 minutes down the road and I started feeling super dizzy. I felt my muscles jerk and I pulled over immediately. I thought maybe I'd had a Sparky shock, or at least been paced out of a bad rhythm.

So I pulled into an Ethiopian grocery store parking lot and called 911. The fire truck and ambulance arrived and took me on a fancy ride to the hospital. I like to make an entrance you see.

So the docs check me out and after some tests they determined that my heart wasn't leaking those enzymes that signal some more heart muscle has died- whew. They also determine that I didn't have a Sparky shock, but I did have some really short runs of v-tach. So in order to figure out why that's happening, they checked me in.

By now, I am a regular pro at this hospital routine. I know the docs and nurses and techs on the heart floor- 5NE is my wing! Kind of like my 'hood. I'm popular. I show the new folks around. But this trip, 5NE was full. What? I thought "Hey man, Jana Morrelli's in the house, clear the decks!" I guess they thought "patient # 4343592 needs a bed. Where can we shove her?".

So I got shoved to the "ICU Overflow Wing". Sounds glamorous doesn't it? Picture it- 6 beds lined up , divided only by curtains. In the belly of the hospital, not a window in sight. Beeping. Oh, so, so much beeping. Bosnia-esque I would imagine.

Suffice it to say I was pretty offended that they would dare put me (ME!) into this hobo healthcare situation. But after some pain meds and sleep deprivation, I decided that it would do just fine.

Well, the morning came and I realized I was being a world-class snoot. The nurses that ran the joint were amazing. They knew my medical history backwards and forwards, they watched my vitals like a hawk, and waited on me hand and foot- generally treating me like I was Kim Kardashian. It was awesome.

So the docs ran me through a battery of tests to make sure my wimpyness was not the result of some super serious thing. It wasn't. They did another ultrasound of my heart and ejection fraction (how much blood my heart can pump with each squeeze) came back at 17%. It was 35% last time.

So I freaked out and the docs furrowed their brows and whispered and after a while they said that even though the number was way less, the images looked almost identical to last time, so they think the reading was off. Whew. 17% is solidly in heart transplant territory. So I dodged a bullet there.

It seems that the achy heart and irregular rhythms are just going to be par for the course. They tweaked my meds and hopefully that will ease those symptoms, but probably not completely. Rats.

After all the testing and poking, I ready to blow that joint by Friday. I had tickets to see a comedian (Kathy Griffin!) that night with my girlfriends Stacey and Liz and I was NOT going to miss the show. So I told the docs that we needed to get me out of there by early afternoon. That is no small feat. Remember, hospital time is like football time. 5 football minutes means 20 and 1 hospital hour means 6. But everyone banded together and got me out in record time.

It was honestly so sweet. Doctors were calling in favors to get tests rushed, my nurse stayed through her lunch break to type up my orders, and the pharmacist called in my scripts for me. It was incredibly kind and I appreciate it so much!

So now I'm home (and the show was great!), resting on the couch. Figuring out how to merge school, health stuff, and a splash of a social life is proving to be a juggling act, but I am really happy. Life is moving along and it's not going ahead without me. I like it. : )

Much love,