I've always been an easily stressed person. I get anxious, my heart rate increases, my stomach gets all twisty, etc. But there's usually an easily identifiable reason for why I'm feeling that way. But I'd been feeling weird for a few days - my heart beat seemed a little erratic. I would have random periods where it seemed to kind of flutter in my chest or maybe skip a beat. I commented to my husband that I felt like I was having random heart palpitations, and he checked my pulse, but other than that I've felt mostly fine.

And then I went to work Tuesday morning. And I felt fine. I haven't felt particularly stressed lately. Sure, there's a big trip we have coming up, so there's always stress surrounding that. But on this particular day, I felt fine. So, I ate lunch. Around 12:15, I felt like my heart rate had picked up again. I checked my pulse and texted my husband; he agreed that it seemed a little high, but my baseline has always been a little high. He asked me how I felt, and I told him I was feeling weird. Sometimes I have issues with my blood sugar, but I had just eaten lunch, so that shouldn't have been an issue.  He told me to look into my Dr. options and asked if I could see someone at the hospital I work at. I told him I'd have to go downstairs to the ER...but it's scary down there, lol. I called and talked to him for awhile, and he said if I started feeling worse to give him a call and he'd come and get me.

Shortly before 1:00, I texted Francisco asking when he thought he could get off work; I was starting to feel dizzy and nauseous. Really bad, like to the point where I felt like I was fighting to stay conscious. I share an office suite with two other people, but they were both at lunch. I suddenly felt really weak and could hardly pick up the phone to call him. And he didn't answer. I was feeling really nauseous and numb. And I called him again and still no answer. And I was wondering if I should walk down to the scary ER. But then he called me back, and he left to come pick me up. And I was trying to figure out where to even go. I don't have a local primary care physician yet. I told the Program Coordinator who sits outside my office that I was feeling weird, and I was going to leave, and she was looking up convenience clinics, but this seemed a little bigger than that, yet I didn't feel like it was an emergency anymore, so I really didn't want to go to the ER. We decided a fair compromise was Urgent Care. So, I scoured our health benefits site to find what was considered in-network.

Long story short, they ended up doing an EKG, which was abnormal and showed that I have Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome. Which I already knew and had informed the doctor of when he asked if I had a history of heart episodes. As a baby, I had been diagnosed with this condition which is characterized by abnormal electrical pathways in the heart that cause a disruption of the heart's normal rhythm. Basically, I was born with an extra connection in my heart, an accessory pathway, that allows electrical signals to bypass the atrioventricular node and move from the atria to the ventricles faster than usual. This extra connection can disrupt the coordinated movement of electrical signals through the heart, leading to an abnormally fast heartbeat (tachycardia) and other arrhythmias. Resulting symptoms include dizziness, a sensation of fluttering or pounding in the chest (palpitations), shortness of breath, and fainting. In rare cases, arrhythmias associated with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome can lead to cardiac arrest and sudden death.
They were going to draw blood to run additional tests, but after poking me three times and not getting a single drop, they decided to stop torturing me and referred me to a lab. The doctor recommended I see a cardiologist and consider delaying our trip next week. He also told me to avoid caffeine and alcohol - gulp, those are the only things I drink besides water! :(

I have an appointment with a cardiologist tomorrow morning, and of course I'm nervous about that, which isn't helping with my heart rate. And I'm not sure what would leave me more stressed - going through with the vacation and dealing with normal travel anxiety or dealing with cancelling it and the headache and disappointment that would come with all that. But I do know that I don't want to be in Chile or isolated in Antarctica without a hospital on the continent and experience another episode like that.

I didn't sleep well last night. I still had some residual tightness and burning in my chest. At this point, I don't know what is what. What's general anxiety, what's lingering symptoms of yesterday's episode, what may be signs of increasing concern. 


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