Living with a chronic illness is difficult enough, but your body isn’t immune to getting other conditions. Wouldn’t it be great if once we had one illness, then we didn’t have to deal with any other one. Unfortunately things don’t work that way.
I’m not an alarmist, never have been but dealing with an illness that has constant changing symptoms makes you very in tune with your body. At least it does me. I have always been very intuitive and very good at reading other peoples body language and mood changes, so it’s only natural that I am also very in sync with my own.
I don’t go running to the doctor at the first sign of new symptoms but I watch them and see if they progress, change or go away. A few weeks ago I decided it was time to go check out some symptoms that were getting worse and that had to do with my heart and breathing.
I have always had low blood pressure, but about 3 years ago (2 years into this illness) my pressure changed and while it changed to what the doctors considered “normal” it wasn’t my normal. At the exact same time, I also started getting very strong palputations and heart flutters. After about 6 weeks of these heart movements, I decided to find a cardiologist and have them checked out.
I had a slightly irregular EKG, but nothing that alarmed a doctor. I also wore a halter monitor for a week and while they did see some weird activity, it wasn’t anything that warranted any medications or further tests. I was told to deal with the palputations and come back in a year, unless my symptoms changed. A year later the palputations were still present so I went back and this time had a sonogram, which showed some funky things going on with my left ventricle, but again was sent home to watch for changing symptoms and a yearly follow up.
Which bring us to this past month. During the last 6 weeks, I have noticed a slight difficulty in breathing and an ache over my heart. These 2 new symptoms caused me some concern and I decided since it was time to go back for a check up, I better do it sooner than later. This time the doctor order a “Nuclear Cardiolite Stress Test”.
Panic set in. I can’t walk on a treadmill, I can’t sit up in a doctor’s office for 6 hours, I can’t go without caffeine for 24 hours or without eating for 12 hours. I”m weak to start, how can I even think about taking the test. I made the appointment because that was what the doctor asked me to do, but in the back of my mind I knew I was going to cancel.
For the next 2 days, I was agitated and couldn’t sleep. I really didn’t know what to do and went back and forth in my mind. I asked the 2 closest people to me (who understood my condition) what do they think and both said that I shouldn’t do it. But on the 3rd day, I decided I had to because the alternative was worse, “what if I really had heart problems and then had a heart attack?”
This was the first time since I’ve been ill, that I really had been faced with a medical decision about taking a complicated test. I really had never thought about dealing with a second condition or going through a procedure that would tax my already weak and fatigued body. It’s a scary thought that something else could be wrong and that dealing with my current illness would not be my first priority because what I am living with is a life long condition.
I hope to feel stronger and have less symptoms, but will I ever be totally free of this condition, probably not. Do I hope to have less severe symptoms and be able to lead a normal life, yes I do. So for now, I am happy to say that I survived the Stress Test. It was difficult, very difficult, but the results did ease my mind. But now, once again, I have unanswered questions and have been referred to a pulmonologist.
Why can’t anything be easy and have a solution? I have decided to wait another while before dealing with more tests. I’d like to try and enjoy the summer a little bit and not be sitting in doctor’s offices agonizing about lung scans and xrays and blood tests. Just as these symptoms appeared, I am hoping they will disappear.
This experience did teach me that on day’s I think I can’t handle one more thing, I can. Or on day’s when I am down on myself and fall in that deep hole of despair, to remind myself that things are really not the worst they could be and that I have to appreciate the current life I am trying to live.