Thursday, November 15, 2007

Things a Cardiologist Once Told Me

My favorite thing she said was that supraventricular tachycardia is a benign condition. She said it several times, and it never got old. Another thing that I liked the sound of was, "Your EKG is perfectly normal." Here's the other highlights, as remembered, paraphrased, run though my brain a few times, out my fingers, and onto the keyboard. Some things may have been altered in translation:

"Up with His Highness Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany!
Down with Jaime Summers!
Now allow me to clarify: You should really avoid running like you're trying to catch the bionic woman. You'll never catch her, and sprinting that hard seems like it might bring on episodes of tachycardia in your case, especially if you're a little dehydrated. Stick with the sensible, non-delusional exercise, and keep on marching up and down hills like you're the Grand Old Duke of York. He would have made a great personal trainer if he hadn't died in 1827. Pilates is good too, even if His Highness never did it.

"If you do have another episode that doesn't end by itself in a minute or two, there are a few ways you might be able to stop it. Try taking a breath, holding it in, and then bearing down and straining hard. We in the medical field call this the PoopFace Maneuver. Or the Valsalva Maneuver. One of those.

"It's not much fun to plunge your head into a bucket of cold water, but it involves a lot less paperwork than going to the emergency room, and it might work just as well. The more parties you go to where there's bobbing for apples the more convenient this will be. You could consider keeping your bathtub full of cold water and apples all the time, both for impromptu parties and the occasional cardiac symptom. If you're having cardiac symptoms more often than you're having parties, call the office and make an appointment. Then we might want to think about putting you on some medication.

"Another thing that might stop an episode in progress is mashing your finger on one of the carotid arteries on either side of your neck. One or the other. You can try both, just for heavens' sake, not both at once.

"If none of these work to stop an episode of tachycardia, and it's gone on for 15 or 20 minutes, come to the emergency room. Come quicker if you're also having other symptoms, like dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, or excessive sweating. You do not need to come to the ER if your only symptom is excessive sweatiness. In that case, just take a bath. Apples optional.

"You're probably just fine. We'll call you if there's any irregularity in the echocardiogram. Otherwise, see you in three months for a follow-up!"

On the whole, I was very impressed with everyone I saw there (the nurse practitioner, the med tech, and the doctor). The only time anyone missed a beat was when I was making my follow-up appointment and had to explain to the receptionist why I thought February 14th was an appropriate day to come to the cardiologist.

They were all so nice and friendly, I'm inclined to take them something for Valentine's Day, but I guess I probably shouldn't bring them decadent bon bons. Maybe slices of beet cut into heart shapes. Healthy and festive! Everyone loves a nice beet slice.

1 comment:

lauren said...

I love your cardiologist.