You can’t always chose the place life changing events take place. If you’re lucky they’ll happen at a beautiful picture-esque vista overlooking a lake in the high sierra’s. If you’re me it will happen in the parking lot outside of Whole Foods Market in Folsom, CA. Before you think I can afford to shop at Whole Foods, with their 12 dollar asparagus water, just know I was only there to give blood. I should also say that my motive for giving blood wasn’t exactly pure, it was to get a free movie ticket to a local theater. Which feels like an extreme length to go for a movie ticket. But I digress…
It was while giving blood that everything changed. As I was getting the prep work done by the very nice nurse she noted my pulse “40, wow, that’s pretty low, do you exercise a lot?” If you know me, you know that I do exercise pretty regularly. Around that time I was regularly riding 250 – 300 miles a month which to some isn’t much, to me was quite significant. “Oh, that must be it” she replied and went on her way.
I tried to take note of my Blood Pressure so I could mention it to Bethany’s mom, who is going to school to be a nurse. I must have noted it wrong because I believe I told her something around 180/70 which I now know would be VERY BAD. When we visited their home later she took my BP (140/72) with a pulse of 38. If you know anything about that stuff you’d be shocked, as she was. “Normal” blood pressure is 120/80 with a pulse around 60-70. My numbers were all off. It seemed as if I was suffering from an irregular bradycardia (slow-heartbeat) with a widened pulse pressure.
“I think you should see a doctor to make sure everything is okay.”
When I left her home, I cried. It’s a lot to process that there may be something wrong with your heart. Just three days ago I was an expectant father ecstatic at the idea of holding a little one in nine months. Now I’m an expectant father with a heart problem. Not exactly what I had in mind. But, I’m not living for myself anymore, I need to figure out what’s up so I setup an appointment.
This would be my first doctor visit in years. But hey, I guess I have medical insurance for a reason. I spoke to my parents, got my dad’s medical history (he has a pacemaker) and went in to my appointment two weeks later. Most of my numbers were the same BP (147/71) with a pulse of 42. Not the most alarming numbers the doctor had ever seen, though still low. However, due to my level of activity she was not worried. That is until I showed her my dad’s medical history
“Sick Synus… Tacycardia… Pacemaker… Looks like we should do an EKG on you.”
By the time the EKG was done and she gave it a cursory glance it was clear that I needed some help. That was when I made my first appointment with a cardiologist at the ripe old age of 33.
It’s hard to describe how to feel when you feel fine and then you find out you aren’t. There is a sense of helplessness that comes over you that is difficult to manage. I cut my knee, I put on on a bandage. I break my arm I get a cast and stop doing whatever stupid thing caused the break. My heart’s not working, I don’t really know what to do for that. Best I can do is to not stress about it, not research it on Web MD and eat better. Did I mention the doctor mentioned I was obese… Freakin BMI…
For now I’m going to track my blood pressure and pulse, eat better, and pray.
“Do not be afraid, Abram[Bryce]. I am your shield, your very great reward.” Genesis 15:1
Years ago my dad and I went to the Sierra’s to hike in the snow. I can’t remember exactly why, sorry dad, but I do remember one thing. As we were trudging through the deep snow I, in a moment of uncommon selflessness, went ahead of him and told him to “follow in my footsteps” because it would make it easier on him. He often brings that up to me and others as a very special moment between father and son. I see this situation, as lame as it is, as a very similar circumstance. When my dad was in his early 40’s he got a pacemaker. It was a very difficult time for him and my mom but now, everything is fine. His quality of life is vastly improved and he often forgets he has a pacemaker. In a sense I feel as if my dad has now gone before me to make this life-changing news a little easier to trudge through.
Thanks dad! Also, thanks for the reminder that God is with me.