A couple of nights ago, I texted F while he was on call at the hospital: I’ve been feeling a weird fluttering in my chest today. Any thoughts?
F’s response: Take your pulse. # beats in 15 seconds x 4.
The beats went 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, flutter in the chest… where’s my pulse beat? Ah, there it is – 7, 8, 9, 10, 11… Uh, hold on. Why didn’t I feel my pulse during those few seconds I felt the fluttering in my chest? Um, now that’s not right, right?
I relayed the news to F. Given that the fluttering started in the morning and had increased throughout the day, he requested that I head down to the ER for an EKG and some tests. Ok, sounds great but was I supposed to get the girls out of bed and drag them to the ER with me? My husband was a step ahead of me. As I was calculating my pulse, F had arranged for Jim and Ellen to come and watch over the sleeping girls. He also notified the ER so they knew I was coming and I wouldn’t even have to wait. (Ah, the benefits of having a husband who practically lives at the hospital.)
Now I was starting to get a little worried. Was something really wrong with me? Of course, the most extreme thoughts started to run through my head — serious heart issues that would forever prevent me from partaking in my active lifestyle, coding in the ER and being rushed to the OR for an emergency surgery while wondering which attending docs and residents would be there to see their colleague’s wife completely exposed, and then there’s the thought of leaving my little girls without their mom and my husband a widower. I ALWAYS think of the worst possible scenarios.
Fortunately, none of those things came up during my ER visit. My EKG was normal as were my blood and urine tests. The doctor believed my symptoms were not due to any serious condition. So what could be causing these palpitations? The possible causes include…
Excessive amounts of tobacco or caffeine. I threw out the tobacco years and years ago. As for the caffeine, I’ve actually been consuming a bit less coffee than usual.
Diet pills. Me choosing to eat less? Never. I love to eat and I exercise to support my eating habits, which is why my heart must be in tip-top shape so I can continue to eat as much as I do.
Cocaine and amphetamine. Good god, no. Abosulutely not.
Shift from lots of exercise to no exercise. Well, I did skip my daily workout that day. Damn. I knew I shouldn’t have done that. There’s another reason I need to exercise — to keep my heart from palpitating.
Apparently, brief spells of palpitations can occur in a healthy person for no apparent reason. I fall into that camp. It feels odd and is rather irritating, but not unusual, and in my case, not dangerous.
Phew. That’s good news. My fluttering heart will go on…