Skip. Like what happens when you hear a loud clap of thunder that makes you jump up out of your chair, but instead I’m just sitting at my desk in my quiet office, staring at the computer screen.
Flutter. Like the butterflies you get in your stomach when you’re nervous, but instead it happens in my chest while I’m sitting quietly on the couch, watching the evening news.
Race. Like when you’re watching your favorite sports team hit the winning shot right at the buzzer, but instead I’m sitting in a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam.
These are the peculiar sensations I’ve been feeling in my chest lately. For the average person, they’re no big deal. For the anxious person, they’re pretty common. For someone who is about 3 months post-heart attack like me, they’re cause for concern. My primary care physician thought that these sensations were simply due to stress. She made me go to the cardiologist, who agreed that it was probably just stress because everything else looked fine, but hooked me up to a holter monitor just to be sure.
A holter monitor is a small, portable monitor that measures your heart’s rhythm. I wore this monitor for 48 hours last week. Every time I felt a skip, a flutter, or a racing sensation, I pressed a button on the side to record the sensation in the results and then I described in a little journal exactly what I felt and what I was doing when I felt it. At the end of the two days, someone read the monitor and compared it to the notes in my journal to figure out what was causing my heart to act up like this.
My two biggest fears regarding the results were on opposite ends of the spectrum. On one hand, I was afraid that the results would come back totally normal and would not show anything wrong. You’d think this is the best case scenario, but for me and my anxious mind, it would mean that I’m just crazy and/or hallucinating these sensations when I absolutely KNEW I wasn’t. On the other hand, I was afraid that the results would come back showing something catastrophic, like my heart was giving out and I only had a few more days to live, all the while wondering how I even made it this long.
I got the results back this week and, luckily, they were right where I’d want them to be, comforting every so slightly my chaotic mind. They found that my heart rhythm is normal and that the ‘fluttering’ sensations correlated with occasional premature heart beats. These are benign but can feel strange or abnormal. Ultimately, there is no clinical concern but I should try to control my stress levels, as stress exacerbates the prematurely timed beats.
So, I’m not going to die of heart failure any time soon, which is good news. I do feel the occasional skip and flutter but my mind doesn’t automatically assume the worst. I’m working on addressing the stress in my life, which is extremely difficult given that I’m a new mom with a hectic work schedule. I’m slowly getting to a point where, when I feel my heart make its weird beats, it feels a little more like this:
Skip. Like when I see Nick and Sebastian after a long day and it makes my heart skip a beat.
Flutter. Like when my closed eyelashes lightly brush against Nick’s closed eyelashes during a long kiss.
Race. Like when Sebastian is about to roll over/crawl for the first time and I’m so nervous for him but I know he’s strong and can do it.
I’m glad it wasn’t anything too scary, but you also got vindication that something is happening and you weren’t hallucinating! Heart scares are not something you want to go through, here’s hoping the lower stress helps keep the palpations to a minimum. I thought the last three examples of skip, flutter, and race were really cute – let’s keep the heart murmurs at that!
Thanks, Liz! I’ve never really had any issues with my heart until this year, so it’s been a very scary ride. But as long as the doctors think I’m okay, which they do, I suppose I will be okay 🙂
So glad we live in a time of such medical technology that can put your mind at ease.
Absolutely. I had never even heard of this type of monitor before but I’m very thankful for it.
Glad your results are normal!
Thanks, Stephanie, me too! It really was the best outcome I could have hoped for.
So glad that they found something that could set your mind ease. Praying that this will pass and the stress levels will lessen for you. I know all too well about the heart I was born with part of my tricuspid valve missing.
Thanks, Melissa. I’m also grateful for the piece of mind. But omg, you were born with a missing valve in your heart? If I may ask, has it caused any lasting health issues or is it just one of those benign things you can live with?
I am glad the results were good! I can imagine how scary that is. I used to have heart palpitations when I was in college, totally related to stress. Not fun!
Yes, I started getting the same heart palpitations when I was grad school! I saw the doctor about it then and she said the same thing: stress. So I really need to get it under control!