October 25, 2008

My Third Birthday.

On October 25th of 2005, the Chicago White Sox were playing the Houston Astros in the World Series.  It was an exciting game, extra innings no less... and yet, I wasn't enjoying it in the least.

Y'see, I was watching from a hospital bed.  Strapped to my chest were a bunch of EKG sensors, and three different IV bottles were running into my arm.  The contents of one of them, potassium, hurt like a sumbeeyotch, no matter how slowly they let it drip.

I was in the hospital after my heart went off the rails.  Superventricular Tachycardia they called it.  I had been at the Duck U. Bookstore, sitting at my desk, literally shuffling papers from one stack to the next, when I felt something wrong in my chest, like my heart had tripped over something.  Instantly, my pulse went from normal to over 250bpm, and my blood pressure went into the stratosphere... and stayed there.  After a minute or two of figuring out what was going on, I had one of my co-workers call 911.

It only took 10 minutes or so for the EMTs to arrive, if that long.  For me, however, it felt like a year.  Every second that passed made me feel worse and worse.  My heart wasn't beating so much as quivering, and the roaring in my ears made concentrating on anything impossible.  When the medtechs did arrive, they tried to take my pulse: FAIL.  Blood pressure?  FAIL.  Their simple machines could not count that high.  They placed an O2 mask on my face and got me rollin to the ambulance.

In the ambulance, they hooked me up to more advanced sensors that got the pulse and bp.  WAAAAAY too high.  As one drove, sirens blaring, the other told me that he was going to give me a drug that was going to be uncomfortable.  "It'll feel like someone put a brick on your chest."  I actually was able to make a little joke, suggesting that a brick on my chest might feel better than I did then.  "It'll stall your heart for a short time, give it a chance to reset."

Ooookay.  First dose went in, and the brick was there, but the heart kept going at full speed.  Second dose, and the brick got a LOT heavier (to which I said "oof."), and suddenly my pulse rate went down to 120bpm, like someone threw a light switch.

After six hours in the ER, having ultrasounds and x-rays and who knows what else done to me (everything was clear, no blockages), they admitted me into the hospital overnight for observation.

My body chemistry was screwed up.  Potassium and Magnesium levels were very, very low, and those two things control heart function.  Ergo, the bottle of potassium burning the hell outta my arm. 

So today is my third birthday as a healthier person.  For my birthday present, I'll do what I've done every year since then: tell my readers that if you have anything "weird" happening with your heart, CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY.  While SVT isn't commonly fatal, it can be, and the longer I waited the more likely that was... and you just don't KNOW what's going on.  Time is life, my friends, in a medical emergency. 

And I don't have enough readers to lose one early.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 07:44 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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