Friday, February 27, 2009

Cautiously Optimistic

Well, another minor delay came yesterday in getting my diagnosis. The doc who was supposed to read my MRI results has been on vacation all week. My doctor didn't realize this until I was already in the office (had already paid my $50 copay, of course).

So, he called the hospital and someone else gave him the opinion that my results looked "perfectly normal." So, while I'm going to get an official answer from the guy who specializes in diagnosing this disease, it is still very reassuring to hear that another cardiologist thinks my results are normal.

I have this feeling of duality - I am relieved but also keep thinking, "Are you sure?" I guess it's disbelief.

Once I get the all clear next week, I will rejoin my gym, try to cut back on eating so many frozen pizzas and try to get out of the funk I've been in.

Right now (smiles), everything is good.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Finally - finding love again

I realized recently that I've begun to find love again. I'm starting to see the good in the world all the time.

I think I used to feel this way, but after going through a divorce (or maybe a better explanation is going through a not-so-great marriage) and then having a couple more men act like huge egocentric assholes, it's taken a while to regain this vision of the world (especially towards men).

I'm so glad it's back. Life is much more enjoyable with love in your heart.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Cardiac MRI

I went in on Friday to get my cardiac MRI. When I got there, they had me use the restroom and change into a gown.

They asked me if I'd ever had an MRI before. I answered, no, and they responded, "So you decided to start with the longest one, huh?" I couldn't believe it, but it would end up lasting almost 2 hours. In the tube.

After they assured me that they were not kidding me, they explained the process in detail. They spoke in low, calm voices, as if I were a skitterish horse and might bolt at any moment.

Since the order was for a cardiac morphology with and without contrast, they put in an IV line before I was slid into the tube. I asked Siegrid what it was that they inject into me to allow the contrast. She said that it was a rare earth element, a metallic fluid.

Once in the tube, there was a computerized program that told you when to breathe in - hold your breath - and then, relax. I had to hold my breath for approximately 15-20 seconds at a time and got maybe 5-7 breaths in between. This lasted for about 1 1/2 hours. Then, they injected the fluid, and had me hold my breath for a full minute (I lasted about 2/3 of the time, then slowly released my breath).

I kept falling asleep (yes - in a tube with loud banging noises that made it so I had to wear ear plugs) for a half second at a time. Then I would start suddenly when the machine made a noise or the voice instructed me to 'breathe in.' I would hastily breathe in, trying to catch up, my heart beating a little too fast because I was caught off guard.

When it was all over, I was stiff from laying so still. I was so glad to be done, glad that they could see the results right when the test was happening, so they knew it was successful. Glad that soon, I would have some answer to the question running laps in my mind: am I at a higher risk of sudden death?

This Thursday, I will know.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Under the Influence

I am under the influence. It's comical. I can see it clearly. I listen to a motivational/inspirational CD and I'm ready to conquer the world (I guess that means they're doing the job, right?). I read a story of someone who defies the odds and I want to, too.

I guess that my response is normal. The only thing that isn't exactly average is the pain the butt character trait that runs in my family. The desire to make money. To somehow break out of the regular 9 to 5 lifestyle, and live free...traveling and dining and kissing the cutest guys. Ok, the last part is an embellishment, but I want it still.

So, my sister got me going this time. She told me about a book she's reading (it's on my hold list at the library now) called the Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss.

So, since I knew I would be waiting for his book for a while, I decided to check out his website. People who write books like this always have a website. And usually, the website is full of free, helpful information. Tim's website is definitely like this. He writes about all sorts of things: recommendations for becoming more efficient and effective, travel, how to lose weight or gain muscle, etc.

One of the ideas that I like is the definition of New Rich. I'm not sure who originally coined this phrase, but it's a concept that I'm sure will ring true with many.

It's not the millions of dollars that I'm after. It's the flexibility in my time, the ability to go travel, having a nice car, owning a home and financial security that I really want. That a a drop-dead gorgeous boyfriend who worships the ground I walk on.

And Tim talks about defining what you want and determining what it would cost to get exactly what you want. And, amazingly enough, it is less expensive than you think to get everything you want - if you go about it the right way.

I recommend his website to anyone looking for a new take on life. His own life stories are interesting to read and often times very entertaining. Check out the From Geek to Freak page. The title alone makes me laugh.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Postponed, AKA Dealing with Insurance Companies - Yech!

I was all set to go to my cardiac MRI this morning. My doctor's office had called me last week to tell me that the insurance company said no precertification was required. But the hospital wasn't buying it. Apparently, this type of procedure always requires precertification. So, they called my insurance company to get it.

Long story short, I got involved this morning, found at least one more problem and had to reschedule my appointment to Friday.

What a pain. However, since I'm battling a bit of a cold/sore throat/sinus issue, I thought, perhaps it's better that I'm not trying to stay still in a tube.

On a brighter note, my dinner on Valentine's Day was excellent. Medium rare steak, cooked to perfection, haricots verts, and baked potatoes with butter and sour cream. Delish!! Add in some limoncello and life was excellent.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Robotic Once More

I went back to my doc's today. I kept sensing all sorts of small ironies about my visit. I would ramble on about them, but even I think that they're better left unsaid - they probably wouldn't make much sense to anyone else anyway.

I had an echo done (basically an ultrasound of the heart), and the technician was nice enough to tell me that everything looked good. My mitral valve prolapse hadn't changed, in fact it was very minor that she wasn't sure that she'd even call it that. It was wonderful to hear that.

I also had the Holter monitor reapplied (this time with pads for folks with sensitive skin - nothing like removing a bunch of stickers from your body after wearing them for two days, only to look like a terrible circular sucking leech has gotten ahold of you). I'll wear it again for 2 days.

Erin, the nurse applying the Holter, told me that they'd gone through and checked all of the cards in the monitors since mine had failed. She said it was rare for that to happen, and was apologetic. Somehow, I told her, it doesn't make me feel any better to know that I'm going against the odds, considering the odds of the disease we're looking at.

She also mentioned (like several of my coworkers) that Valentine's Day is tomorrow. I told her the same thing I'd told my coworkers. Ugh. Valentine's Day is a black holiday for single people.

Unless I can meet someone - anyone!! - to catch my interest in the slightest. I wonder where, statistially speaking, the best place is to meet a single guy on Valentine's Day?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"For as much as I've been showing my boobs...

in the last two weeks, I wish I were getting laid."

That was what I said to the two girls placing the sticky leads on my body for the SAECG this afternoon.

SAECG stands for signal averaged electrocardiogram, which is basically like a regular ECG (or EKG as some folks know them), but in a high-def kind of way.

I went down to University of Colorado Hospital, a big sprawling place, which looked pretty new. They are about 45 minutes away from me, but apparently, since this test is so rarely given, they're the only place around with the machine anymore.

I asked how often they performed the test and they said about once or twice a month. In fact, I think the reason that I had two nurses there was because one was learning how to do it because she'd never seen it before. And they said they'd been working together for a long time.

This was the third test out of the five that my doctor ordered for me. I did a stress test on Monday (I told my boss, I don't need a test, I can tell them - I'm stressed!). The nurse told me all through it that my heartbeat looked good and my blood pressure was good. My pulse did get up to over 180 bpm, which was pretty darn fast. But after I sat down, I could feel that I was having a lot of irregular heartbeats and could see them being recorded on the machine. My nurse didn't make any comments after that.

I have my echo on Friday and my MRI scheduled for Tuesday and then I'm done. By Wednesday next week, I should have a good idea of whether or not I have the heart disease in question. It's like Christmas in reverse. The waiting is so hard and I want time to go by faster, but I'm afraid of what I might find on the other side of this week.

Friday, February 06, 2009

I Feel Like a Robot!

I went to my doc's office yesterday and got a Holter monitor placed on me. It basically consists of 5 leads (just stickers, with really good adhesive) placed on your chest in varies spots and then wires connected to them that join together into one plug and go into a small device. The computer device is about 4.5 x 3 x 1 inches in size and right now it sits in my jeans pocket.

It will record all of my heart activity for about 48 hours, at which point, I'll remove it and it will shut off. There is a small button on the top that I press whenever I feel like my heart is doing something funny, which kind of highlights that area in the readout to bring it to the doc's attention.

When they first put it on me, I was feeling very self conscious. It felt like someone was watching me and it was difficult to relax. I hesitated on pressing the button (I've learned that I have issues with expressing when I feel funny/bad, like I shouldn't tell others) initially, but now just go ahead, figuring, it won't hurt if they don't see anything special. Yesterday, the wires hung below the hem of my shirt and I felt like a robot, accidentally exposing my terrible android secret to the lowly humans surrounding me - would they rise up and kill me?

So far, I've managed not to pull off any of the leads, even in my sleep. I only have to wear it until tomorrow around 1pm. Thank God. Because I need to shower!! I can't stand having to skip a shower if I've sweated and we've been having glorious weather for a couple of days. Which means I've perspired. One day down, one more to go.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

You Smell Good Enough To Eat...


Anybody who knows me knows that I have an extreme fondness for cheeseburgers. I don't know exactly why, but they are heaven when they're good.

So imagine how much this tickled my funny bone when I saw it:

Yes. You too can smell like a flame broiled Whopper, courtesy of Burger King. Only $3.99, it can be found at Ricky's.

ARVD Dr. Visit #1

I went in to see my cardiologist for our initial visit. I was pleased with my experience.

Dr. Oza had me explain my family history leading up to my trip to talk to him. He was very thorough, asking for copies of autopsy reports and anything else that I might mention while I told the story.

He then told me what his experience is with ARVD. He has about 10 patients out of his entire clinic that have ARVD. He said that this number is a very low percentage of his patients (which is good that he told me, since I have no baseline). He says that he probably has more than anyone else in the Boulder area because they are all referred to him. (This is comforting.)

He told me what approach he would like to take (which basically matched the recommendations from Johns Hopkins). He told me that he'd like me to do a bunch of tests and then evaluate them, using contacts from Tucson (another place where they specialize in the disease) to confirm the findings, whatever they may be. He also said that if I wasn't comfortable with that, that he would be happy to provide a referral to either Johns Hopkins or UofA in Tucson.

So, I have four appointments already set up (echo, stress test, 48-hour Holter monitor, follow-up visit with Dr. Oza) and two more to schedule (SAECG and cardiac MRI). I have to get everything done by 2/18, when I go back to see my doctor for a follow up visit.

I mentioned to him that once I started to discover that I'd need to undergo testing, I'd stopped going to the gym (I was going 5-6 times a week) and stopped drinking my one lousy cup of coffee that I enjoy each day. He smiled, told me to go ahead and drink my coffee. But not to go to the gym until we have figured all of this out. I knew that, but it still freaked me out to hear him say that. I just feel like I'd been taking my life into my hands with every trip to the gym and I never even knew it. Oh well, I guess that's's more about what you don't know than what you do.