Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Flip Flop

For the last year I've been plagued with heart palpitations of the "Oh my God it's just going to stop beating" variety. I've had every heart test known to man and given two different diagnoses (three if you count the post-partum anxiety one), both of which are supposedly benign. When my heart flip flops all over the place, however, it's hard to convince myself that the doctors who can't quite agree on a diagnosis are in fact correct in saying that I'm not going to just keel over and die.

I've tried eliminating caffeine and alcohol and getting more exercise. I've tried beta-blockers, talk therapy, and reflux medications. I've tried increasing my potassium and magnesium intake and decreasing my fat and sugar consumption. Absolutely nothing seems to make a difference. On the upside, it means that I can apparently reintroduce caffeine and wine back into my life, which helps a great deal in the self-medication department. On the downside, every few days I get convinced that I'm going to die and leave my children without a mother.

When I'm not in the midst of a panic attack following a palpitation, I tend to give credence to the anxiety theory. On the days C and A are being particularly difficult the frequency of the palpitations kick up. When I have to make a phone call I don't want to make, flip flop. The particularly horrid one last night occurred while I was simultaneously watching a news segment about kids taking care of terminally ill parents and considering breaking my "no blogging whines about my family in case they stumble upon my blog" rule. While I wasn't feeling particularly anxious about either item at the time, I can see how my subconscious would beg to differ.

But then there are the days when the palpitations happen for no reason what so ever. Like when I'm driving home from the gym after a good workout. Or when I'm making myself a bowl of oatmeal in the morning. I once got one while inspecting bath towels in Target. Not exactly anxiety producing stuff.

After each episode I frantically search for triggers and re-research all of the different types of heart arrhythmias, trying to figure out if the cardiologists missed something. My palpitations take many different forms, and while many of them were caught on the various heart monitors I've worn, many of them were not. Those are the palpitations that completely freak me out and lead me to believe that there is actually something direly wrong with my heart, and if they just ran one more test (what test that might be, I don't know) they would find it.

I also spend hours upon hours worrying about my children and trying to imagine what would happen to them if I weren't here. Would M convince our occasional housecleaner/babysitter to be a live in nanny? Would he move back to the city and have his mother take care of them? Would anyone know that A needs to be sung to three times before she goes to sleep, and the C has to be given four big hugs at preschool drop off? Who would teach C to ride a bike, and who would read A Little House on the Prairie?

When I was working, I always disdained the people who thought they were irreplaceable. "No one is irreplaceable," I would grumble. "If you quit or dropped dead tomorrow, someone would quickly be found to take your place."” I've tried to apply that same mentality to this situation, and while logically I know my children would survive and grow up to be wonderful adults regardless of whether I was alive or not, it makes me cry every time I think of it.

I'm not quite sure why I started this entry, or if I'’ll even end up posting it. I think I probably hope that writing about the palpitations will magically make them go away. And who knows, maybe it will. But I think it's more likely that I am going to have to figure out how to deal with the uncertainty of life, and recognize that there are some things I just can't control. Like my heart.