Paroxysmal tachycardis of uncertain nature. That’s a long day at the office.
Well, I got a fine how-do-you-do yesterday morning at the gym. I work out with a heart rate monitor, because knowledge is power after all. And last month I had a sub max test so I know where my ticker’s supposed to be humming along at. So yesterday I did my cardio workout like usual. It’s a graduated thing that starts at level say 5 then moves to 6 after two minutes then 7 after a minute then 8 for a minute, then 9 for a minute then 10 for a minute, (10 is supposed to equal your maximum effort) then backs off to 6 and starts the upward climb again. Four cycles equals 20 minutes and there’s your cardio workout. Except yesterday, my body had something else in mind. So I finished the cardio went over to do some ab work, which I had been a little remiss about. Did my reps and stood up and thought “Wow, I’m dizzy”. Really dizzy. And my heart seems to be doing the rumba. So I walked over to a cardio machine so I could get a reading. (you can wear the watch or just stand next to one of those machines and it’ll pick it up). The thing said 194. WTF said the kangaroo. So I went in the locker room and sat down but it wasn’t backing off at all. (because sitting in an empty locker room was soooo much smarter than staying on the gym floor where someone could see me drop). It wasn’t slowing down at all, so I got my stuff and went down to the front desk where my golfing buddy Ron works. I told him what was going on and he says “I really need to take that CPR class”. Yeah, maybe. So I walk over to a machine and check again, 188. I sit there for about 10 minutes, but I’m not catching a break. Maybe a shower will help. So I drive home. (OK, I’ve gotten in enough trouble for that boneheaded move, so leave me alone about that). There I get the monitor’s watch, and I’ve calmed down to 177, but it’s been 20 minutes now. I decide that I’m giving this 30 minutes and then I’m going to Emergency. So I do the exact right thing and pour another cup of coffee and sit down to watch a Tivo’ed Law and Order to see if just sitting and relaxing will calm it down. Then, just as strangly as it started, it went away. By then I had already used that day’s beats up and I was exhausted, and I’ve got this monster deal I’m working on, so I went to work. All day I had spurts of high revs, followed by dizziness and some confusion. More than the usual confusion. A long day at the office. Finally I decide I really need to get this looked at. What if I wake up dead…right? So I ask around for a recommendation for a Cardiologist who would understand that I’m a competitive weightlifter and just writing a script and patting me on my head and sending me away wasn’t going to cut it. I get two great recommendations and in neither case can I get through the labyrinth of their voice mail systems to speak to a real person. And no call back. No wonder each thoughtful message tells your to hang up and dial 911 if this is an emergency…because we sure as hell aren’t going to talk to you. I’m taking a class on Tuesday nights and last night was the first quiz. Now blowing off the quiz because you went to the ER just isn’t going to fly, so I went to the class, took the quiz and then took myself to the ER.
Mt. Diablo Medical Center is now the Concord campus of John Muir. The changes are palpable. It feels like you’re at John Muir in Walnut Creek. I walked in around 7:10 and was called in around 7:15 and in a bed by 7:15 hooked up to every machine in the whole world. AND I was back out of there by 9:30 with walking papers, a diagnosis and the feeling that the Doctor (Doctor Stuart Shikora, a great guy) actually understood what was going on and gave a damn. He checked everything for an injury to the muscle itself and there was none. I’ve had this problem before but it was twelve or thirteen years ago and cardio life is different at 36 than it is at 49. He said I have a beautiful EKG. How sexy is that? The guy who was waiting on the guy in the next bed (I think he’s a serial ER buddy) said my oxygen levels looked good too. I know my bp is sterling. And of course my heart saved the rumba for another day. Here’s the sad news: No caffeine or strenuous exercise until cleared by a Cardiologist. I’m not happy about that. Hopefully one of them will call me back today.
I can’t remember the last experience with our health care system that went this well. Once discharged I had to go to room 14 where I was certain I would be strong armed for every last nickel in my wallet. Nope. No co pay for you, have a nice evening. Do you need to make a copy of my card? No, you’re covered, do you need me to call someone for you? Uh, no, thanks. So props all around for John Muir Concord and Dr. Shikora and all of the great nurses in the ER last night. Y’all were cool.
As I was driving home, I thought about how curious it was that this occurred on the same day that I saw the article about Walter Reed. I thought “is it really that hard to treat the soldiers who are defending this country the same way I was just treated?” It shouldn’t be.