Friday, January 29, 2010

Yet another challenge

Recently I switched primary care physicians. I liked the original guy as a person, but since I've been banded (and especially during my band slip), he has just not kept up to speed with me medically. He has been listening to my heart at least 2-3 times a year for the past 10 years and never uttered a word about any heart problem. When I asked him if I should have a cardiac evaluation because of the phen-fen I tooki years ago, he said no, my heart is fine.

So it was a surprise when the new doctor said, "Did anyone ever tell you you have a heart murmur?" He added that because it's a loud murmur, he wanted me to have an echocardiogram (sonagram of the heart). I had the echo done last week. I've never been interested in cardiology the way other medical topics interest me, but it was fascinating to see and hear my heart beating. Of course, the technician made no comments about my test other than to point out the different heart chambers. A few days later, the doctor's office called to say that my murmur is from a very strong heartbeat, caused by thickening of my heart wall, and that the doctor would discuss it with me when I see him in 2 weeks.

If it can wait 2 weeks, I guess I'm not at death's door, but about 5 minutes of research revealed that hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is often what kills healthy young athletes who drop dead in the middle of a game. It's usually congenital, caused by a defect in the fibers in the heart wall, but can also be caused by cocaine abuse and a few other things that are far outside my realm of experience (I know exactly how to score a candy bar, but have no idea how or where to score cocaine) Treatment is exercise (I think I'm already good in that department), medication, sometimes open heart surgery, sometimes a heart transplant.

The good news is that I don't have any symptoms of heart trouble - no shortness of breath, no exhaustion, no problems when exercising, and so on. But still, this distresses me. I turn my life around, have weight loss surgery, reform my eating, learn to enjoy daily exercise, lose my excess weight, regain my health (normal blood sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure), and then find myself dealing with chronic, daily pain (fibromyalgia). After a 10-month battle, I get that under control, and now I'm faced with a freaking defective heart. Thanks so much, God. I needed yet another challenge in my life.

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