My Heart Will (Hopefully) Go On

30 May

Life certainly doesn’t ever slow down. While we’ve been traveling to and from Asheville obsessively over the last month to visit and house hunt, I’ve also been taking a deeper look into my heart. This is not just psychological heart ache (per usual), but recently I’ve been to see the “family cardiologist.” My grandmother, my aunt, and my mom have all been his patients.

My mom’s mother is almost 94 and is still going strong. She’s at a nursing home and has been since her strokes the summer after Dave and I were married, so just about six years ago. She actually looks better now than she did Christmas of 2011. My mom’s older sister suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhagic stroke over a year ago, and it’s such a miracle that she’s alive. She’s doing fantastic now and has really seemed to mellow out.

Four days after I had Rex, I couldn’t fall back asleep at 2am because I had a fever and my back hurt when I breathed. When I called my MIL around 7am, nursing a sleeping baby — and crying — to see if she could watch Walter so I could schedule a visit with my midwife, she told me that Pop would come get the 4yo and that I should go immediately in to the ER because I might have a pulmonary clot. This is a woman who usually dismisses my flus as mere colds. So Dave and I did as she said, deliriously tired with the tiniest of babies, and they took an EKG and a chest x-ray. The EKG read as slightly abnormal but the x-ray was fine. The blood they drew had elevated numbers, so both they and my MIL, who was an OB/GYN at Piedmont hospital for over 30 years, recommended that I should get a CT scan.

To make things more fun, they totally freaked me out when they said they were injecting me with a radioactive dye and that I shouldn’t breastfeed for 24 hours. My milk supply had just come in, so I didn’t have any saved up (hello, I had just left the other hospital!), and I was totally unprepared to feed my baby another way. Besides that I just cried because I had spent two years yearning for another baby to nurse, and here he was, brand new, and I had to give him up for a day.

We researched it as best we could — called the MIL, the ER doctor brother, Google — and were given the CT disclosure, and as best we could conclude, the stuff leaves your body in 15 minutes and isn’t a big deal. So we decided to ignore what the one nurse had suggested that started the whole debacle, and I continued to nurse Rex post procedure. Maybe his insides glow in the dark now.

The hospital then kept me somewhat hostage, denying me food and water in case of possible surgery, for about four hours after the procedure. I was a newly nursing mom, horrible postpartum hormones, body out of whack after growing another human being for the last nine months, and I couldn’t get a sip of water for about six hours total (wasn’t allowed it before the procedure also). The hospital I had just left after giving birth told me that I needed to drink 5 big cups of water and 2 cups of milk every day to establish my milk supply, and it wasn’t until I literally started crying and begged for the results and for something to eat or drink (I’ve never known hunger and thirst like when I’m pregnant or nursing around the clock) that they produced all three and told me I could go home. I did, at some point before this, sneak some water from the bathroom sink in the ER. God knows what diseases I could have picked up there doing that.

Right before they sent me on my way with my $900 bill, they described the irregularities of the EKG and told me that I should follow up with a cardiologist. Low and behold, I kinda already had one! I’ve read those stories of women in their thirties having heart attacks etc (and not knowing about it because the only sign was that they threw up twice or something like that). Well, I don’t want that to happen to me. So I made an appointment with Dr. McGorisk, who is this very lovely cardiologist at Emory with a to-die-for Irish accent. He knows what he’s doing and has the greatest glasses. When I told him that I was related to the Fleeman women, he brightened up even more.

Unfortunately, the repeat EKG showed that the irregularities were still there — even though I’ve been working out 2-3x a week recently! How very unlike me! — so I’m getting an echocardiogram this week, which he says is a much better diagnostic tool than the squiggly lines of the EKG. He’s not worried (as the results still fall within normal range), but my blood pressure was super high at the appointment. Hopefully that was related to white coat syndrome. I did wake up earlier than normal and drive through an hour of I-85 collapse traffic to get there. I have struggled with high blood pressure in the past (runs in the family on both sides), but it has usually been pretty good since I had Walter. I stopped regularly eating ramen noodles around that time, so that might have helped. But it’s something to keep an eye on.

I have been hurrying to get it all in before my husband quits his current really great job for our adventure in Asheville. I pretty much had met my out of pocket maximum for the year the first two weeks of January, and this new job change means our insurance is already starting over. I better not need a doc in the second half of 2017! Dealing with insurance (and then still owing a ton of money on top of our deductible) is a huge stressor for me. No wonder I (might) have heart problems.

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