Sorry I haven’t posted since Friday but I have been very unwell culminating in me being admitted to hospital yesterday for a few hours.
I was pretty exhausted after all our Royal Wedding fun and to be honest it was a price I was willing to pay, just to have a bit of fun for a change! Friday was wonderful but I don’t know if I want to go through the last three days again. Everything with me has to be worked out in a kind of profit and loss way. One day of enjoyment (profit) may amount to several days, sometimes weeks of ill health (loss). Unfortunately on this occasion I hadn’t estimated the amount of loss I would have.
Saturday morning I woke up feeling pretty rough, which was totally expected. I hadn’t slept very well due to the sheer amount of adrenaline floating around my system. I had about 6 hours sleep, when I normally get between 9-12 hours. Anything less than that and I find it incredibly hard to function. I decided that Saturday would be the day that I would catch up with all my TV programmes that I had recorded over the last few days.
On Saturday afternoon I started to feel quite strange. My chest really ached, I felt very dizzy and a bit shaky. I drank loads of fluids and eventually decided that I better go to bed and have a lie down before I fell down. On climbing the stairs all I could hear was my heart thumping away and I became extremely short of breath. On getting into bed and pulled my pulse oximeter from my bedside drawer and took my pulse, it was 170 beats per minute (normal is 60-80 beats per minute) my oxygen saturation was 95%. No wonder I felt so ill, the pain in my chest was more uncomfortable than sharp and the pain wasn’t travelling along my arm or into my jaw so I wasn’t overly concerned, just a little perplexed. As I lay in bed I became acutely aware that my heart rate wasn’t going back to normal (for me is between 70-80 bpm). I had palpitations and I could still hear my heart whooshing in my ears. I measured my pulse again and it was sitting at 115 bpm.
Over the next few hours I measured my pulse every 15 minutes or so. It was still in the hundreds and any movement – even turning in bed was making it jump to over 120 bpm. I knew in my heart of hearts I really should be calling the out of hours Dr’s but as me and the medical profession don’t see eye to eye…….(see previous posts to get accounts of prior encounters and you will understand why) I decided to leave it and see what happened. After about 3 or 4 hours my heart rate dropped into the 90-100 bpm range. This was good but what was concerning me about the tachycardia (that’s a heart rate over 100bpm) and the high normal pulse was that it wasn’t settling into any kind of rhythm. It was dancing all over the place, one second it was 82 the next it was 110, the next it was 93. Normally when anyone takes their pulse its at a nice steady rhythm, maybe just going up or down one or two beats not 20 or 30. It literally was dancing up and down before my eyes.
So I did what anyone wanting to avoid a trip to hospital would do, ignored the readings and changed the battery in the pulse ox. The readings didn’t change so I changed the batteries again. I got the same readings. So I then used my blood pressure monitor to check my pulse. It showed again that in a space of a minute my pulse was bouncing all over the place. I decided that the best course of action was to go to bed and await hubs return from work. I convinced myself that if I sought medical help I would be told I was having a panic attack. I was too tired to put up with that kind of nonsense and after all a good nights sleep may sort everything out.
Sunday was a repeat of Saturday, except now I had hubs and mother pleading with me to call the out of hours Dr’s. Mum said “what happens if you black out?” to which I responded “I won’t be able to stop you dialling 999, but until then I’m leaving it”. I just made sure that I was with Hubs at all times and rested as much as possible. Again I knew really that this was an incredibly stupid thing to do but I can be very stubborn and I really didn’t want to cause a fuss.
I emailed a few people asking their advice. Their answers weren’t what I wanted to hear so I chose to ignore them. I googled tachycardia and inappropriate sinus tachycardia and found that a lot of people with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome also suffer with IST (inappropriate sinus tachycardia). IST isn’t pleasant but it isn’t life threatening, although it can lead to angina and a few other nasties. I was reassured but I didn’t know how much longer I could put up with a dancing heart. It was exhausting, making me nauseous and the chest pain was getting a bit more intense. I decided as all ostriches do, to bury my head in the sand, have a good nights sleep and see what happened in the morning
I rang the on call Dr’s and spoke to an extremely useless woman, after asking me if I was the patient she proceeded to ask if I was conscious! I bloody hope so I nearly replied. I know they have to read off a script and ask the relevant questions but If we have already gone through the fact that I am the patient I have given you my date of birth and my address then its pretty obvious I am conscious! The woman had real difficulty grasping what I was telling her so I dropped the word tachycardia and told her my heart was beating too quickly and that I had chest pain. Once she had finally understood and I would like to make it clear I was dealing with a foreign call centre where this kind of problem happens on a regular basis, I was informed the Dr would call me back within 20 mins.
I gathered all my regular medication together and wrote a list of it also. That’s quite a feat in itself, my regular meds fill a small carrier bag. AF told me to pack a bag, to which she received a dirty look and then she shut up. I told her I wouldn’t be staying and would see her when I got back from the Dr’s. With that the phone rang and It was the Devon Ambulance service. I was a bit taken back as I had thought I would get the Dr on the phone and he would tell me to meet him at the local hospital and get an ECG done.
I gave all my details to the Ambulance service, who were lovely and very kind. They informed me they would be sending around a paramedic to assess me and that an ambulance would follow. This would be a spectacle for the neighbours! I walked down stairs very slowly and informed hubs he better get ready to shut the dogs in the kitchen as we would be having visitors, only to look outside and see that the paramedic was already on the door step!
Much amusement followed as somewhere along the lines some one had reversed my age to 73, not 37 so the paramedic was a little surprised to see such an elderly woman in good nick. My husband assured him I had cost him a fortune in plastic surgery. The paramedic was brilliant and calmed me down. Unfortunately my pulse was bumping along at 103 and various other numbers in the hundreds. I explained what had been happening and the paramedic said “its no wonder you feel exhausted its like your body has been running a marathon for the last 3 days”. He treated me so kindly and with such respect, its the first time in a long time that I have received treatment like that from a paramedic. Usually I am treated with disdain and that I am a time waster. Unfortunately over the course of the last 4 years I have had many unscheduled trips to hospital in the back of an ambulance, once with the blue lights flashing!
After taking all my obs it was decided that a trip to the larger hospital in my area was called for. Everything bar my pulse and temperature were normal but I did need an ECG to ensure that something more sinister was not occurring. After 3 days if something sinister was happening I would have done quite a bit of damage to my heart muscle. I was pretty sure that if I was having a heart attack I would know about it, this was uncomfortable and causing extreme fatigue, but I wasn’t that sick and really didn’t want all this fuss.
The ambulance crew arrived and again they were lovely.The paramedic and the ambulance paramedics all admitted they knew nothing about POTS but would be going home and googling it. They all said it was a learning experience for them as they had never encountered someone with this syndrome before. As soon as I was in the back of the ambulance I was attached to an ECG machine and a pulse ox. We took a leisurely drive in, much to the annoyance of the paramedic sat in the back with me. He took me through the ECG reading and said it was absolutely fine it was just my heart wasn’t in a set rhythm and was going a bit too fast.
When we got to the hospital I was taken through to majors, I never ever end up in minors and haven’t got a clue in what that part of accident and emergency looks like. I have ended up in resus before but thankfully at the time was so ill I didn’t have clue that’s where they take you when there is a possibility that you might die. When AF told me afterwards I was in shock for a few days!
It was quite amusing at the hospital as the ambulance crew wouldn’t take the pulse ox off me which is very unusual- they like to keep hold of their kit. They said to me they wanted everyone to see at the point of hand over exactly what my heart rate was doing and what happened when I had to stand to move from their trolley to the hospital bed. I could have just moved over by sliding between the beds but everyone was so keen to see my heart rate rocket when I stood, I didn’t think it was fair to let them down!
My heart had dropped to around 93 when I was lying on the bed. On sitting it rose to 120, a normal persons heart will rise 10-15 bpm on changing positions and then drop back down within seconds. Mine just continued to rise, on standing it climbed to 128 bpm, dropped and then started to climb again. I told them to get the full effect I would have to be stood for longer but I was too exhausted to play along. Impressed with their new knowledge the ambulance crew spoke to every medic they could find telling all about POTS it was quite amusing to watch as the Dr’s and nurses all started to google POTS at the work station! The ambulance crew stayed with me until they had a cubicle ready for me, around 5-10 minutes as it was standing room only in majors. Then both of the crew gave me a hug and told me to get better soon. It was so nice I could have cried, I have never been treated like that before.
I was strapped up to a monitor that measured heart rate, oxygen saturation and respiration rate. As is quite normal for me when I get poorly I forget to breathe so I was regularly setting off the alarm due to it dropping to 4 or 5 inhales in a minute. I promise I don’t do it on purpose my brain just forgets to keep it going, I have to make a conscious effort to breathe. I thank god for the alarm as its the only thing that makes me remember. We have never got to the bottom of why my respiratory rate falls so dramatically when I am ill. I just think of it as another autonomic nervous system dysfunction.
The blood pressure cuff as usual has covered my arm in blood blisters, why am I so fragile? The nurse didn’t believe me until she took the cuff off!
I am so tired that I am going to have to stop here and conclude with another post tomorrow. Sorry but just to let you know I am fine just very very tired!