For the past few months, I’ve been having kind of a tough time breathing. Sometimes it happens after climbing the stairs, sometimes it’s while I’m just standing around in the kitchen, sometimes it’s during a drive. Suddenly, I am acutely aware of how hard my heart is working: it pounds erratically inside my ribs, skipping beats, and every so often there are stabbing pains. Even when it appears that all is well — and sometimes when I’m not particularly exerting myself — I get dizzy and have a difficult time drawing a full breath. It feels like someone is sitting firmly on my chest, or like I’m only working with one lung instead of two.
I do not have asthma. I am not/never have been a smoker. But despite some genetic risk factors, I’m not very careful with myself sometimes. (Eek.) I consume Double Stuf Oreos literally every single day. I over-butter, over-cheese, and wayyyyy over-salt. Some might say I haven’t legitimately exercised since high school softball practice — unless you count lifting a twenty-five pound baby while sprinting after an energetic preschooler. (I mean, aren’t you supposed to count that? I totally have been.)
One night, several weeks ago, I ended up in the ER. They drew some blood, concluded I had “not yet” had a heart attack, and told me to follow up with a cardiologist. Because California has eleventy billion people in it, getting an appointment anywhere is not always easy — but a specialist finally set me up with Step One of testing: a 24-hour heart monitor. Continue reading