Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Not the best way to start the week!

Monday morning, we were meant to be heading home again. I had just dropped Bri into the city to do her CPR refresher course and Gus headed off to do a few quick jobs while I showered and got ready to go home...

While he was gone, I had rapid heart palpitations which lasted until he got back about 20 minutes later. All up, they lasted about 30 minutes before going back to normal.

Because we were meant to be travelling home 400 kms, we decided to go to the doctors to get me checked out. The girls go to a "walk in" clinic so we fronted up there. I told the girl on the desk that I had had a heart flutter about an hour earlier, she took my details and then showed me through to the nurses in minor surgery. I was popped on a bed and immediately a nurse did an ECG. Such good service and care. After a short wait, I was seen by a lovely Dr Williams who said he'd like to run some blood tests too. We waited about 30 minutes before my blood tests were taken. Dr said he'd send through the results to my GP at home or contact me if need be. I was bulk billed (no charge) for all of this care.

I went home to take it easy for the afternoon. I was asleep on the couch when about 4pm my phone rang. The Dr said my troponin level was slighly elevated so he would like me to go to one of the city hospitals emergency department and get some more tests done to compare levels. We have private health cover so we chose Wakefield. Amazingly in emergency, there was no one waiting so after some paperwork we waited maybe 15 minutes before I was taken through to a bed in the emergency room. A few people arrived by ambulance while I was there but nothing major. Its now 5pm.

So there I was. I had another ECG done and bloods taken. Wakefield have their own pathology department so the results would come back within hours. I was seen by another Dr (Antonas). While waiting he prescribed aspirin and I had a bag of saline put up as he said I might be dehydrated. The nurses bought me sandwiches, yoghurt and juice and a cup of tea.

This photo is a set up and I was feeling quite okay. Bri and I were just passing the time away.

The results came back and the troponin levels were back down so that was good. Dr suggested that seeing we were from a remote country area (4 hours from the city), it might be best to be admitted and be observed overnight then see a cardiologist who is associated with Wakefield. Once again, such great service and care. Drs consult, ECG and emergency fee $387, some of which can be claimed back with Medicare.

So by 8pm, I was in Room 11 of the Coronary Care Unit, a private room with ensuite. My blood pressure continued to be higher than normal, even at rest.

Gus and the girls left me at about 9.30pm so I watched a bit of TV then settled down to sleep at 11.30pm.

Lots of monitors bleeping all night plus obs being done didn't leave me with much sleep.

My breakfast this morning....

I had an ultrasound done on my heart just before lunch (carrot soup, roast lamb, fresh fruit salad and icecream). The cardiologist came at about 1.30pm, viewed the ultrasound then discussed my condition. Basically, the fast heart palps are called supraventricular tachycardia.

To see how my heart is really operating, Dr Grover suggested a treadmill stress test that could be done on Thursday this week. Better still, she said she'd like me to do a stress MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) test. She said that probably wasnt available this week as they are done on Wednesdays and she thought they were booked up. However, rather than send me all the way home, she said she would check and see if they could squeeze me in tomorrow.

More waiting (poor Gus) then I was told I was free to go and her rooms would contact me regarding the appointments. We were out of there at 2.45pm.
Later this afternoon, they rang and yes, I can have the MRI at 9.45 tomorrow. This test is not covered by most private health insurance and is $350.
I will update once the MRI has been done. Life is never dull, is it?
UPDATE:The MRI stress test went very well. The cardiologist said my heart performed perfectly and showed no sign of damage or any problems. This condition is common in some people and it can happen often or it can happen infrequently like with me.
Have you ever had a MRI scan? Its not for the faint hearted (ironic?) or the claustrophobic!
(Web pic)
I was laid on the bed, just like in the picture. Then I was connected up to two drugs via canulars in each arm, I had a blood pressure cuff on one arm, a weight across the top of my chest to keep me still and all the tubes stable. I was given a 'panic' button in case I felt very unwell. That hole doesn't look very big, does it? I wore head phones so I could hear the radiographers instructions and talk back to her. She was so nice and reassured me during the test.
They started to move me into the chamber - oh God, its not big and I thought my nose would scrape as I went in! I felt quite apprehensive, my heart rate went up straight away! Then, as I was going in, the canular on my right arm knocked against the side of the chamber (its a very tight squeeze) and came out of my arm so they had to reverse me out again. I got to sit up and have a breather before they got me strapped back down again. I needed a glass of water as my mouth went dry. Oh man, this is not nice!

"A Stress Perfusion MRI involves the injection of a special dye (often called contrast medium or contrast agent) during the scan. The contrast highlights the heart muscle in areas receiving a good blood supply. Areas receiving relatively less blood do not highlight on the images as well with the contrast, which can be an indicator of ischaemic heart disease (undersupply of blood and oxygen to the heart)."

"The blood flow (perfusion) to the heart is assessed both at rest and under stress. The stress stage of the test is performed during the injection of a medication called adenosine. This drug has an effect on the heart that simulates or copies physical exercise and, combined with contrast that has been injected, can reveal parts of the heart muscle not receiving an adequate blood supply. The rest component of the test is usually performed afterwards, without adenosine, and is used for direct comparison with the stress images."

The 'stress' part made me feel like I had climbed about 6 flights of stairs on a hot day. My heart was pounding and I felt really breathless. While this is happening, they ask you to breath in then out then hold your breath for up to 20 seconds! Great! Fortunately, it only lasts about 3 minutes but it is still 'stressful'!

A very helpful tip came from dear Kim from Serendipity Cafe - close your eyes, breath in through your nose, out through your mouth and think of being somewhere nice. It did this as I went into the chamber, the inside being about 10cm above my face. I closed my eyes and thought of our lovely holiday in Bora Bora, Tahiti in 2008! Warm sun, azure blue ocean, cocktails by the pool and lush tropical hills and screaming around the island on jet skis! It worked a treat, I didn't feel so closed in with my eyes firmly shut. I just had to concentrate and listen for instructions.... Breath in, breath out and hold ... Buzz buzz buzz buzz, click click click ... breath away....

After what seemed like ages, the lady told me that it was finished and they would come get me out of the machine. What a relief! She told me I did very well and that not all people can hold their breath for the required time, but I did. She said she got excellent pictures of my heart at all levels and I could go get dressed then see the cardiologist.

Dr Grover (think blue fluzzy monster - but she was a pretty Indian woman) met me in the corridor and told me that everything looked perfect with my heart. Everything functioning, good blood flow throughout and no damage evident. She'd like to see me again in 4-6 months for a quick review and maybe do a halter monitor test over 24 hours. I left feeling much better!

So that was 3 days I hope I never have to repeat!

Cheers - Joolz xx




  1. Life is never dull!! Hope you are back on your feet soon. I'm always thankful that we have private health insurance. Best wishes Louise

  2. Great idea to get it checked out. Hope all is okay and you can resume your normal activities with a your mind at ease. Be well!

  3. Gosh Joolz that it is a bit of action! Glad things are going along track well. Sounds like you are in v.good care which is great. Lunch looked good! Let us know how you go. cheers Wendy

  4. hopefully all will be well but best to check and make sure.................

  5. Goodness me, Joolz, what a scare for you. The racing of your heart with tachycardia would be quite frightening and I hope the docs get to the cause of it before you leave for home.

  6. I hope you are o.k. and test results come back clear of anything that will be disruptive to your life. We are so very lucky in this country to access to health care. Take care,
    Anne xx

  7. Sorry to read about your health scare, sounds like you've been looked after well though. Good to get all those tests done, hope all goes well.

  8. That would scare anyone. Your picture on your blog looks like the picture of health. They'd have to put me under anesthesia to put me in that MRI, even if I closed my eyes!

  9. Hope the tests are all positive news Joolz....good that you were already in the city when it happened. Looks like you were well looked after. Take care of yourself! x

  10. Bit scary, glad everything is fine. Hope the flutters don't come back again! Look after yourself xx

  11. How has your week been? No more flutters hopefully. Glad every thing is OK., enjoy your long weekend....

  12. Crikey Joolz, you had a lot to endure. Somehow I missed this post :/

    Hope all is going okay now...I had a scare just before our wedding and ended up in hospital in the ICU ward for the night. I had chest pains that lasted all of the night and into the next day. My cholesterol was slightly elevated, but everything else was fine. Doctor said is was stress...really? I am fine now, but need to go have some bloods done :)


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