I’m wearing a heart monitor. I had to wait a month for my turn, because demand has been so high this year.
The tech told me that a lot of people who had COVID have been reporting erratic heartbeats, just like me.
Whatever you may think of my personal experience, surely it is interesting that so many people have been waiting in line to get access to a Holter monitor. Lots of people probably need one who have never had the coronavirus.
While I was in the office, someone knocked on the door and asked if he could have six of the heart monitors. My technician opened a big file drawer that contained dozens of the zippered pouches and handed them out the door to him.
I don’t know what’s wrong with me yet, and I don’t know how long it will take to see any data. I don’t know what sorts of treatments might be recommended after this.
This is how it went down:
I called the nurse’s hotline to describe some symptoms I had been having and ask what to do. She said I should go to urgent care and get an EKG.
I did that the next day, and the cardiac doctor ordered a chest x-ray and a full panel of blood tests.
I had a phone appointment with my doctor later that week, and he ordered two days with the Holter monitor.
The heart clinic said they only issue them for 24 hours, or for a month. (It turns out they have two different types of equipment). I had to call back again and get him to say which direction he wanted to go. He said 24 hours would be fine.
Then I was able to schedule an appointment. The first available time slot was a month later.
A couple weeks after that, I finally got the test results of the EKG. It indicated that I might have one of a series of issues that were pretty concerning. It seemed like a good idea to keep the appointment for the application of the Holter monitor.
I had COVID throughout April of 2020. Here it is, August of 2021, and… I guess I don’t know how to phrase it. I am a heart patient? I am being tested for a variety of cardiac conditions?
I’m not better yet?
I am 46. I have never smoked and I don’t drink alcohol or coffee. I have no congenital heart conditions that I know of. My blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose levels, triglycerides, etc have all always been in the healthy range. As far as my lifestyle, this has come out of nowhere.
Is this just my new reality?
Or is there something very simple they can do for me?
I am very tired these days. So tired that I have totally cut off a lot of activities I used to do. The other night I went to bed at 9:00 because I couldn’t keep my eyes open.
I’m trying to move forward with the process of applying to grad school, at the same time wondering, how can I go back to school when I can barely find the energy to read through the application?
We don’t even watch TV on weeknights. I can’t focus.
Right now it feels like my life is on hold. I don’t know what is wrong with me, other than that I’m constantly exhausted and sometimes my heart starts pounding and lurching for no obvious reason. Usually when I’m trying to relax, most likely when I’m lying down.
The Holter monitor looks like a big pager, or a small Walkman. It has a bunch of black wires that connect to it, with sensors on each end. They are stuck on various parts of the torso with adhesive. Chest, ribcage. You aren’t supposed to take a shower with it on, or use an electric blanket. Otherwise they want you to behave normally so you can get readings of what you are usually doing on an ordinary day.
It has a button that reads ‘SYMPTOMS’ in blue letters. When you press it, it beeps, and then the device beeps a couple more times to indicate that it registered the event.
There’s also a paper log where you write down the times you felt anything unusual, what you were doing, and what it felt like.
I’m not sure my doctor totally believed that I’ve been having erratic heartbeats on a daily basis, but he did order this test of 24 hours with the heart monitor. And now I have had a couple of occasions to press the button.
More than I thought I would.
Now I’m going to go to bed, still wearing the monitor. As annoying as it is to have a device glued to your chest all day, I am looking forward to the night. My fitness tracker reports that I have been waking up several times a night, when my husband (a pretty accurate sensor) says that I barely move all night and that sometimes he has to check that I’m still in the bed.
It will be good to have some answers.
Tomorrow I will go in and return the equipment. Then I will turn around again and come home and log in to work, having lost half a day this week to these mysterious appointments. Whatever it is that is going on with me, it has not been great for my productivity.
UPDATE: I went in to get the Holter monitor removed, and I had a different tech. He said that Kaiser is actually building new heart clinics to handle the extra demand. Three weeks or more until I get my results - there is a backlog.
The upshot is, at least in my area, if you have problems with an erratic heartbeat, it may be two months before you work your way through the process to find out what is wrong and get some kind of diagnosis and treatment plan.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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