Monday, April 18, 2016

I Have a Problem...

For the past 12 years now I've had a bit of a health problem. Now many people wouldn't notice because of the nature of the problem, but it has haunted me ever since it first appeared. I have a heart problem...

The specific heart problems I'm talking about is premature ventricular beats (PVC) and atrial tachycardia. Before I had these heart episodes, I don't recall having skipped or a racing heart beat at all. It kind of came out of no where. I would be running down the field in a soccer game or making a horrible shot in basketball and suddenly it felt like a fish was inside my chest flopping around like it was out of water, but like a hummingbird fish. It would go so fast that it felt like I was running 10 marathons, at full sprint, all at once...and occasionally run into some speed bumps. That's about as good of an explanation that I can give. It's a very strange feeling.

Since then I started taking a medication (beta blocker), seen multiple heart doctors, been to the hospital a couple of times and have almost daily skipped beats with the rare, racing heart beat that usually pops up at the most inconvenient of times. It has come to the point where I just get frustrated after an episode and get mad at myself for not being able to control what my body is doing...even though I have very little understanding of what is going on. For the past couple of years I've just brushed it off and have tried to act like nothing was wrong, until recently when they have affected my every single move. I bend down to pick up a crumb of food, BAM! multiple skipped beats. I get out of bed too fast, BAM! can't catch my breath because my heart rate shoots up. I get nervous over the most menial tasks because I'm afraid that my heart is going to go into a crazy rhythm. Adrenaline starts shooting through my body and I just feel like I'm vibrating. That then creates more skipped beats and then the cycle begins. I sound like a nervous wreck and I am. It's making me so forgetful, so self-centered, quick to anger, quick to doubt's a pretty crappy lifestyle.

When this all started back in high school I had ways of coping with my heart anxiety. I would play video games, watch a funny show, go on a walk, talk to my brothers...these are starting to become less helpful. Sometimes they only make it worse. I haven't even been able to sleep more than 3 hours the past couple of months. Waking up in a cold sweat has been very common and I even went into SVT (supra-ventricular tachycardia) a couple of times.

For a short time though I never thought about my heart. During my mission I don't think it was ever an issue. I remember two specific instances where my heart went into a weird rhythm, but I never thought about it afterwards and just brushed it off. The first couple of years being married presented no problems either. I don't recall even one episode. I don't even think Chelsey knew how much it had affected my life, especially during high school. Not many do.

It was a crippling fear during my teenage years. I did my best to keep it hidden because I didn't want to bring attention to myself. I would usually run to the bathroom if something started happening or try and wait it out while in a classroom by drawing shapes on a piece of paper. I became a recluse when I was invited to parties and would make up an excuse not to go. Having an episode while away from the comfort of my home was a nightmare. Luckily those times are gone and the future is starting to look bright because finally, I have some answers.

In February of 2016, I had an event monitor (one of many over the years) strapped onto my body to detect abnormal rhythms whenever I pushed a button on said monitor. After I gave the monitor back to the electrical heart doctor (electrophysiologist), he determined I had something called focal atrial tachycardia, a form of SVT that he saw on the monitor. Although I don't think this is exactly my condition, I do think is a piece of it and it can be cured. The problem that can be fixed is the random racing beats. The ones that I've had while just showering in the morning or by standing up. Now I don't know about the multiple PVC's. It usually happens when exercising or while exerting force, but my heart is a stubborn fella and won't act up when I need it to to find out the exact cause of them...go figure! It's definitely the scariest thing and the most inconvenient problem I have. It has stopped me from doing the things I love and seeing the people I care most about. It haunts me every day and I haven't been able to get away from it.

I don't know if I'll ever get over my heart problems. I mean I think about it constantly. After all, it is my heart and is keeping me alive every second. Having it skip hundreds of times isn't the most calming thing one could experience. At one point in my life I didn't think I'd make it to my 17th birthday because of skipped beats. It really was a nightmarish life and I don't want to ever be in that state of mind ever again.

Hopefully people will understand where I'm coming from. I'm not depressed or hate the position I'm in. I don't want people to feel bad for me. Worse things have happened to many other people I know and I have so many things to be grateful for in my life. I know I've been given things to make me stronger and to understand what it feels like to be at your lowest and most vulnerable point in life. I know that trials come and hard things happen to everyone, but you can't lose faith. That's where I'm coming from.

Prayer has been my constant and is what gets me through the toughest of times. My senior year of high school soccer is an example of the greatest blessing I've seen through prayer and I will never doubt that. I was also protected on my mission and given the strength to do things I should never have been able to do because of it. Today it is what pushes me forward and brings me strength.

One of my favorite scriptures is in Luke 12 as Christ talked to his disciples and says, "Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.I know Heavenly Father is looking out for me. He knows my needs and understands my situation.

After a tough soccer game where I would have lots of skipped beats or an episode, I would turn on "Consider the Lilies" sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and listen to it on the bus ride home. It truly helped me in my time of need and made me realize how much love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have for each and every one of us. Singing this song in the MTC choir was just another prayer answered and a miracle performed in my life, testifying to me the truthfulness of that scripture. "...your Father knoweth that ye need of these things." "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

I might never be completely cured of my heart condition and I understand that. I have a problem and it might stick with me for the rest of my life. But as I actively make changes in my life to better tolerate my heart and seek for that spiritual guidance that has proven time and time again to be my foundation, I know that I'll be able to push it aside and look onward.