My doctor for the last four or five months has experimenting with a variety of medicine combinations. She is trying to get the most benefit to cover all aspects in the least amount of pills. While I appreciated, in the beginning, her concern, it has taken a toll on me mentally and physically. The last few weeks in particular have been pure unadulterated hell. If you have ever had to come off one medication and start another, while trying to navigate the holidays, you'll understand what I am talking about.
Monday, I came home after lunch with a friend. I had a slight headache, which turned to slight irritability, morphing into a blinding headache and extreme irritability. I didn't think much about it and locked myself in my room for the rest of the night. Sleep didn't come easy, not uncommon anymore, as insomnia has become a frequent and unwelcome visitor.
After finally catching a small nap, I woke up yesterday morning just feeling off. Not my usual "offness" that I experience from time to time. I couldn't put my finger on the specifics; it was different.
I hadn't been up long when I realized my heart was racing. And it was actually racing, not just the feeling of racing I feel during an anxiety attack.
Throughout the day, it continued to speed up. A slight headache I had increased. By midday, by vision was blurring. I had a hard time looking at the computer even with my glasses on.
My husband, either an optimistic or tired of dealing with my crap, just chalked up it to anxiety and claimed I was doing it to myself.
Close to three, he brought me one of my "as needed" anxiety medications, despite my hate for taking them. (I have a deep-seeded fear of addition.) Reluctantly, I took it. For an hour, my heart rate slowed, but never to the "normal" range and then started climbing again.
Big Daddy had me call the doctor, and they recommended that I come in. After an examination including an EKG, I was given a diagnosis of tachycardia (fast heart rate), told to quit taking one medication (one of which I hadn't even taken that day), avoid caffeine -- chocolate included-- and to not really worry about it. Already having an appointment scheduled for Monday for a med check, he said the issue would be looked at again at that time. Mostly, he seemed to chalk it up to a person that already has an issue with stress, anxiety, and depression and a weight problem.
Never have I felt so dumb leaving a doctor's office. Here I was scared if I ignored this problem, I'd wind up with a heart attack or stroke only to find out it was most likely in my head. Sort of figuratively.
In my frustration, I wrote about the day's experience in a private group. One woman, whose opinion I value greatly, made this comment:
I cannot tell you how often women's heart issues are dismissed because they are women. If your heart continues like that or if it worsens and you have any stiffness, muscle pain, etc go to the emergency room.
Thankfully, I started feeling better. Obviously, tachycardia onset can be caused by panic attacks, anxiety, and some medications. Two of the three I am on do indicate rapid heart beat as a potential side effect; however, I've been on these for two months and and one month respectively with no negative symptoms.
On the way home, BD had stopped at Sonic and bought me a Sprite Zero. I nearly drank it all before we had gotten home because I was so thirsty. After I started feeling better, a light bulb when off.
I found some other causes of tachycardia:
Dehydration I'd had a partial cup of coffee that morning and two sips of Diet Coke earlier in the day. Not feeling well, I avoided food and drink. Plus, I've been on a diuretic for the last month. Although, I didn't take it that morning.
Medications both prescribed and OTC. Three of my __ prescribed meds are indicated for causing tachycardia. Only one I had taken that day, but I didn't know until yesterday it could cause it. And after nearly two months on it, I hadn't had any issues. Also, cold medicine is know for causing a rise in the heart rate.
Caffeine If Coke's stock takes a rapid nose dive, I'll be to blame. While I know that my love for the nectar of the heavens (aka Diet Coke) is not the best for me, I've not had any issues in the 25+ years I've consumed them.
My sole purpose of posting this experience isn't for sympathy or well-wishes. I tell you my story, as insignificant as it may be, because my eyes have been opened to details I couldn't recall yesterday.
You are your own health advocate. As talented and meticulous as your doctor may be, he or she is also a doctor to hundreds of other people. They are human.
Health statistics you should know and always have on hand:
YOUR normal blood pressure.
The medical community has agreed that 120/80 is the standard range for most adults. For me, 100/65 is normal. So when, my blood pressure registered 110/85 yesterday, no one batted an eye. Of course, I was thrilled as it wasn't 127/ 85 like it was a month ago. But still? High for me.
YOUR normal body temperature.
Again, the medical community considers 98.6 to be healthy. My healthy temp is 97.
YOUR normal [resting] pulse rate.
Standard range is 60-100. I have no idea what mine is. But I have been tracking my pulse every so often. There are many tools over the counter as well as some great apps for your smartphone.
YOUR medication intake.
Whether it's prescribed or over-the-counter, keeping a log of what you took and when could be helpful when you suddenly find yourself being asked, "What have you taken in the last week?" It's eye-opening when you "think" you've taken all you were supposed to, count the number of pills missing in the bottle and in a month's worth, only nine are missing.
Also, if you find yourself seeing a doctor, perhaps in an emergent situation that does not have access to your file, knowing medications taken will significantly reduce the risk of an interaction.
Anytime you don't feel just quite right, follow your instinct. It's possible that it's nothing that will resolve itself, but don't feel intimidated about sticking up for yourself. If nothing else, a note will be made should it come up again in the future. Women tend to be dismissed quickly because we are the worriers, have special hormones, may have other conditions, and other stereotypical details. Just be your own health advocate.
Disclaimer: This post should not be used in place of medical advice. My experience is unique to me and other results may vary. See your health provider if you experience symptoms above and beyond what is your "normal."