Friday, March 2, 2007

EKGs and PVCs

The fear of death is more to be dreaded than death itself.

Publilius Syrus (~100 B.C.) Maxims

Something about my heartbeat didn’t feel the same, didn’t feel right. When I attended the cardiac rehabilitation program at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, the EKG monitor showed some marked downward spikes several times a minute, just after I felt some kind of missed drum beat in my heart. I had lain awake at night, worrying what these missed beats meant, waiting for the next one.

As a result of the changes in the heart, I now had frequent “pre-ventricular contractions” -–the heart rhythm was sometimes out of sequence, particularly when I exercised hard.

There is something about the heart beating irregularly that is a fragmenting experience, that throws one into a state of anxiety. Clearly, the anxious mind thinks, this skipping in my heart must mean I am about to die, or have another heart attack.

I was told by the cardiac nurse, who had never experienced PVCS, not to worry about them, that the electrical signal for the heart was finding a new path through the scarred tissue, and this was causing the pre-ventricular contractions. Right, Hakuna Matata... Don't worry, be happy. It took months to get used to this new off-beat rhythm in my heart.

Apparently though, irregular heartbeats don’t always mean that one is going to die. Hakuna Matata, indeed.

My Zimbio
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