Stressed out to the max back in early December, I ended up in the emergency department of a local hospital with Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib for short). Basically, when you go into A-Fib, your heart goes nuts and pounds at a rapid rate. Instead of a normal rhythm, it actually flutters uncontrollably, and if not treated, this event could cause blood clots and even cardiac arrest. Like so many afflictions, this condition is age related, but stress plays a key role.
Most people experience minor A-Fib events from time to time—that little flutter you feel in your chest for a few seconds, or the extra beat you notice when you’re lying on your left side. This is perfectly normal. But when your heart goes whacko like mine did, beating out of control, it requires aggressive treatment. For me, medication helps. And so does exercise. I drag my butt to the gym 6 days a week and crank for 35 minutes on a cardio machine. But more than any other factor, I have to find ways to minimize the stress in my life. Are you kidding me?
Let’s see. I’m retiring on April 1st of this year. My employer’s retirement center misquoted the cost for my health insurance after retirement and it’s nearly double what they originally told me. My wife and I are planning to move back to New York and we have to sell most of our furniture. We have to find a suitable place to live in NY. Our high-strung, 16 year old cat will never survive a 5 hour plane ride to NY, so we have no idea how we’ll get him there. There are all kinds of things going on with the marketing and promotion of my novel. I am under contract to write a sequel and it has to be completed by November 30th. Want me to continue?
Last week everything came to a head, and although I didn’t go into A-Fib, I felt really crappy, so I went to see my cardiologist. He did an EKG and a stress test. Everything looked normal except that he noticed at an accelerated heart rate, there were some irregularities that could mean nothing or could suggest reduced blood flow to my heart. So, just to be sure there are no deeper issues, next Friday I am going for a Nuclear Heart Scan and stress test. Basically, the doctor will inject a radioactive material in my veins, and I’ll crank on a treadmill until my heart reaches its maximum rate. Then, he will scan my heart to observe its blood flow.
Sound like fun? Isn’t that what everybody wants at some point in his or her lives; to be injected with radioactive material? Personally, I’m stoked. I can’t wait until nighttime, so I can walk outside and see if I glow in the dark. This whole aging thing must be God’s ultimate practical joke.