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How It Feels Being on a Monitoring System for Heart Disease

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It didn’t fully hit me until my parents and I were sitting at my kitchen table talking on the phone to a woman who worked for a First Alert system. She was young and had heart disease like me. She kept saying that I sounded so young and “normal,” which she hears a lot as well. At some point in 2019 or 2020, my heart health took a plunge into arrhythmia issues. A cardiologist diagnosed me with Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT).

If you’re not familiar with this type of arrhythmia, I’ll tell you how it feels living with these new changes to my heart’s function.

For me, the symptoms of SVT range from either two high of a heart rate or two low, causing a domino effect of severe fatigue, chest pains, nausea and, on frequent occasions, digestive discomfort. Recently, when I was sitting for a couple of hours working on an art project, someone noticed my heart rate skyrocketing to 147, and I was hoping that was the time. But it was, in fact, my heart rate.

Within seconds of this slightly longer episode, fatigue made my energy levels plummet. I was in a situation where I couldn’t lay down and take a long nap.

Though I love an afternoon siesta, the fatigue has now become like an internal war with my brain and body. My brain wants to do things, to be creative and work. My body, though, denies the urge. It’s frustrating beyond belief to want to work but physically not have the ability to.

When I’m down, after I’ve slept for at least an hour or two in the afternoon, then I’m awake and doing work. Still, exhausted and sitting down. I’ve been trying to walk each day. Some days, it takes everything in me to walk around the block of my neighborhood. Even if I’m walking slowly, I’ll break a sweat and my heart rate will either be through the roof or too low.

To add insult to injury, within the last year, I started on heart medication, a betablocker to be specific. These episodes were too brief to pursue a pacemaker, so a First Alert System with the betablocker should make me feel more at ease. But none of these circumstances feels settling or easy to deal with at the age of thirty-seven. It’s nerve-wracking to find myself in situations of being forced to tell clients or strangers what’s been going on.

Adding to my list of disquieting thoughts, my health is somehow always interfering with my life.

I’m someone who loves being busy, and even though fatigue has been challenging my day-to-day routines, still, I keep plugging away. Heart disease has taken a lot from me, but I’m trying not to think in such a manner. Instead, I have transformed these hard feelings into work that I love doing. Those times when I’m down, I’m actively creating something whether it’s an art piece or an art tutorial.

As someone who used to deal with insomnia, I am mindful to get sufficient sleep by minimizing distractions. My brain never rests and that’s the toughest hurdle.

Its as if I am literally in a fight with various aspects of myself and when I notice this uneasiness creeping in, I find strategies to not slip down a rabbit hole of negativity. I used to keep my health issues a secret, but if there is anything this Coronavirus pandemic has taught me, it’s that if we’re sick or having problems, it’s courtesy to be honest about where you are and how you’re feeling for the sake of yourself and others.

This First Alert system, while it makes me uneasy at times just to have, I also feel lucky that there are these devices that can save my life if in the event of an episode. I want to live a long life and there is technology, now, that can facilitate these desires. It’s also comforting knowing I have a tool to use in a crisis.

Photo credit: primipil/Getty Images

Originally published: October 19, 2021
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