Updated: Feb 5
I Wear Red - For Myself
Did you know that the entire nation goes red in February?! Why you ask? Because the American Heart Association has designated the first Friday of every February as "American Heart Month" igniting a wave of camaraderie of red from the East to the West.
Ladies, we need to be more demanding when it comes to our heart health and persuade others to do the same. If you feel a little too tired or "off"
SEE YOUR DOCTOR
If they don't listen, keep moving and
FIND ANOTHER DOCTOR WHO WILL LISTEN!
We are mothers, sisters, wives, daughters and friends. We deserve to be here.
“ Wear red to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease and save lives. Because when we come together, there’s nothing we can’t do. ”
Why does this matter to me?
I was 37 and tired... so, so tired - a mom to three, a wife and essentially working 2 jobs (working full time in a private school and trying to get my business running). I mean, it makes total sense as to why I would be so tired; right?
I remember one fairly calm Sunday afternoon - nothing much was going on, honestly we were probably on our third round watching Pirates of the Caribbean (Avah - my daughter's favorite then!) but some reason I just didn't feel right... something was off and I just didn't know what it was. I took a warm bath in our oversize jetted tub *the best tub EVER!* to try and relax... this always works - as in 98% of the time works, why wouldn't it now? After a nice soak in lavender scented suds I still wasn't feeling right and thought - I'm just going to take my heart rate. 180... Hmmm... that's probably not good.
The next day was spent at the Dr's office undergoing a plethora of tests - one test after another and another with seemingly nothing wrong other than a Right Bundle Branch Block - but for some reason my resting heart-rate still wasn't coming down under 100. It was just going higher... like a roller coaster that just doesn't stop. I spent a year visiting 3 different cardiologists and put on a medicine that would lower my heart-rate only for the same medicine to be increased 4 times within that year. I spent a year internally racing in a marathon. I was even told - "of course it's high, you're busy", "maybe it's hormones"... "are you on your period" - REALLY?
I've never in my life felt more dismissed.
There comes a time in your life when you just need to take control.
And that's exactly what I did - I did the research and I found an electrophysiologist (Dr. Norris in Clearwater - whom I HIGHLY recommend!) who listened to me. To every single word I had to say. What's better is that he cared. Genuinely cared! He wanted to help and he agreed that increasing my current medicine wasn't the answer. I wasn't dismissed because I was a woman, in fact - he listened more intently because I was a woman!
Dr. Norris diagnosed me with IST. What is IST (honestly, we both kind of learned about it at that time)? Here's the short of it:
Inappropriate sinus tachycardia (IST), a form of dysautonomia that is estimated to impact around 1.2% of the population. IST is characterized by unexpectedly fast heart rates at rest, with minimal physical activity, or both.
I spent a few months in and out of his office wearing heart monitors - most weeks I was being seen twice. We tried different medications which ended up not working or me being allergic to. Not really a fun adventure... if you've ever experienced a beta blocker you know how lethargic they can make you feel. I even was a tester for brand new drug specifically for heart failure! How did that one go? You know what it feels like when you've been on one of those merry-go-rounds on the playground when you're little and someone has just pushed you REALLY fast and you're all dizzy? Kind of like that - except take that feeling and walk in a really, really dark cave, add in a sprinkle of slurred speech and entire body itch and there you have it....
Next step? Last resort? Cardiac Ablation. On my 40th birthday - Happy Birthday to me!
BEST. DECISION. EVER.
One over-night hospital stay, a 5 hour procedure (where I was totally and blissfully "out") and a week off of work and I literally got my life back. Just like that.
I could go to the grocery store, fold laundry, mop (all that fun house work type stuff... wait... that's a good thing; right?), walk the dog, go to the mall - I can go to Busch Gardens with my family again and not worry about going into cardiac arrest! And coffee was most definitely put back on the table!
I was able to run my photography adventure at full speed. In a sense, I was given back my dream. Now... let's give this blog thing a run for its money!
Not only am 1 in 3 women affected by a type of heart condition - I'm also the small 1.2% of the population afflicted with IST.
I had my daughter Jade in the studio this week - it was time to tell my story and share it with you this February. Not all of the images are in focus - but I don't even care. Because it's me - all of me! My final advice to you? Get an EKG - no matter your age, no matter if something is wrong or not. You never know when you'll be in a position to need a comparison. If I would have had one to compare things to those years ago, that first year probably would have been spent a little differently.