Last Thursday evening I was sitting at my desk at work when my cell phone started vibrating and dancing across the desk. Not recognizing the number, I dismissed the call and went back to what ever it was I was doing at the time. A couple of minutes later, another little buzz alerted me that there was a new voice-mail. Needing to get up and move around a bit anyway, I grabbed my phone, and my heart’s phone, and walked down the hall so I could check the message with some degree of privacy.
To my surprise, the message was from the on-call doctor at my cardiologist’s office. My heart’s cellphone had alerted the folks at LifeWatch to the fact that my heart rhythm was abnormal and that I appeared to be in atrial fibrillation, and they contacted my cardiology team who then called me. So, I called the doctor back and he recommended that I get to the ER as soon as I could to be examined and receive treatment to stabilize my heart rhythm. Finally aware of the symptoms that the doctor said I should have been feeling, I agreed that the ER visit was a good idea. I informed my boss I was leaving and drove myself to the hospital.
I got to the ER and explained my situation to the triage nurses. I was a bit surprised when I was told to have a seat and they would be with me shortly, especially since there was a sign on the wall that specifically said that if you are experiencing any sort of cardiac issues to inform them immediately. In my experience, I’ve always been taken into a room immediately. Nevertheless, I took a seat in the waiting area.
Back in the ER, I was hooked up to all sorts of monitors. There was hardly a bare spot on my chest by the time they finished putting electrode patches on me. And thanks to a allergy to the adhesive on the EKG patches, I’ve got bright red, incredibly itchy reminders of the experience. And I’ve got bruising on my arm from the IV that was put in so they could take blood and give medications as needed.
When they first got the monitors hooked up, my heart rate was over 150 BPM, and my blood pressure was 186/105. I was given some sort of medication via the IV to help calm me and my heart down a bit. And I was given some Tylenol because I evidently had a bit of a fever.
A bunch of blood tests, chest x-rays, and poking and prodding later, I was told that everything was mostly OK at that point and that I would be going home. And, initially, I was thoroughly pissed off that they didn’t find anything wrong and felt that a big deal was made for nothing. Then I got to thinking about things a little more.
There are two major take-a-ways here that are really important.
Firstly, I know for sure that my heart monitor and the support team at LifeWatch are doing their jobs. They really are watching over things and really will call me if there’s a problem. That phone call could have saved my life and that makes the expense and frustrations of the device worth it.
And secondly, there is now documented evidence of the strange palpitations and heart rhythms I’ve been experiencing lately. When I wore one of these monitors two years ago to try and document this same issue, I came up empty handed in the evidence department. Now, my cardiology team and I have documented events to look at and determine what the next step in this process will be. So, no, the trip to the hospital and excitement wasn’t a waste.
Who knows? Maybe this will be the evidence my f****** insurance company needs to get them to agree that I really do need the tests and medications that my doctors are ordering.
I’m not holding my breath though.