Sometimes, Life Forces You to Pivot

Me on Tuesday Morning, dong a screen test for a video, and right before I realized that I needed to get to the hospital.

I just noticed that it’s been almost a month since I posted here. I want to apologize to you. I never meant to leave this site behind. I just got overwhelmed, super homesick, and anxious with FOMO in a major way. I tried logging off Facebook and only hanging on Twitter. I like the way life is on Twitter, and the conversations that happen. It’s my second Social Media Love (the first being MySpace), and I have met so many wonderful people online and in real life just by having conversations over there. Logging off didn’t work.

I have been overcome with sadness because I am mostly alone, excepting my roommate’s cat. Even my roomie is never home, because he works on the other side of the country. I am not being hyperbolic when I say I am utterly alone here, in my new space. For some reason, I have major amounts of anxiety about that. I also have a congenital heart defect, and had the Mustard procedure when I was 3 months old. I have an electrical problem in my heart, and the scar tissue has finally caused me to have an elevated heart rate on a regular basis.

On Friday, November 3, I thought I was having an anxiety attack. I don’t get them often, but I got a sharp pain in my chest and stomach that made me double over. I waited a few minutes, and the pain subsided, then started again as I walked into a store. I turned around and walked out, intending to take myself to the hospital if they symptoms didn’t subside. They did, kinda, and I went about my day. My heart rate remained elevated (+120 beats/minute) over the weekend, and everything felt frantic. I was scared and alone, just like I’ve been basically since I arrived. That frantic feeling compounded my anxiety, and my heart sped up, which made me more anxious, and on and on.

TEddy during a rare cuddly moment.

TEddy during a rare cuddly moment.

On Monday, I told myself that if it hadn’t resolved by mid-week, I’d go in. Tuesday, I decided it was time for someone to check out the tachy rhythm, and called a heart transplant doctor, whose secretary put me through to the congenital cardiac team. I explained what was happening, and they suggested that I head down to the emergency room right away and make sure I didn’t have an arrhythmia.  I was frantic, needed to pack a bag in case they kept me, and make sure the kitty was fed. You can already see, I’m not in my right mind at this point. I even called my mom, and that made it worse, because the convo didn’t go well. In tears, frantic, and exhausted from having an elevated heart rate for 4 days, I drove myself to the emergency room. I fucking drove there, talking to the congenital team I had happened to find, and pick because the heart transplant team had five stars on Yelp.

It took about 20 minutes for me to get to the ER, and another 20 to park and walk in. I say that so nonchalantly. I was freaking lucky it didn’t take longer, because it was rush hour. I couldn’t get there fast enough (heart rate up). I couldn’t figure out where to park, and they weren’t helpful (heart rate up). I was talking to the cardiologist as I parked and walked to the er (heart rate up).

And up.

And up.

And up.

Adenosine Doses

Adenosine doses and times. Adenosine stops your heart for 6 seconds. I was awake for that.

After I checked in, they did an immediate EKG, and my heart was showing that it was at 185 bpm. I instantly freaked out more (heart rate up), they rushed me to a curtained section, and it wasn’t long before a crowd had gathered, but nobody would tell me what was going on. They were scaring me (heart rate up), and I was already going through this 1,700 miles from all of my family and friends. Eventually, a nurse would tell me that my heart rate was at a lethal rate, and they had to convert me now. I heard them saying 253 bpm, but my nurse later told me that I was at 270. For reference, 300 is the absolute upper limit of what your heart rate can reach. They administered adenosine 3 times, and my rate broke, but came right back. They couldn’t get me lowered. I did stay in the 180-range after the third dose of adenosine, though.

Cardizem Infuser.

They put me on Cardizem to slowly lower my heart rate, and Lovenox to thin my blood. Oh, man, that Lovenox hurts; they have to give you a shot in the stomach. I got 2, total. Even now, I’m upset by thinking about the entire scenario, but let me tell you that these doctors, nurses, PAs, and Paramedics-in-training were NOT going to let me go, and they didn’t. They let me hold hands, and made me laugh, and kept me company. They saved my brain, not just my heart. I sat in the ER for 6 more hours, waiting for my room to become ready, and waiting for my heart rate to drop below 100.  I had gone into the hospital at around 5:00 PM, and was in my room at 11:00 PM.

I didn’t sleep well. Every time I tried to go to sleep, I’d have an arrhythmia, and the monitor would beep. Also, I was alone and in a very scary situation with nobody I know anywhere near me. I hadn’t eaten since 2 AM Tuesday. I was thirsty and dehydrated. I did get a yogurt and water, but at 4 AM, they told me I was NPO (nothing by mouth) because I was going to have a cardioversion done later that day. I finally met my cardiac team that morning, and they decided to move forward with the TEE & cardioversion first, and then we would all have a better idea of what my hear was going to do, and what I’d need.

SCD sleeves are like getting a leg massage. They are also useful in preventing blood clots.

SCD sleeves are like getting a leg massage. They are also useful in preventing blood clots.

I had an ECHO, and called my parents for the 40th time, upset and alone. I did get a bit of a snooze in before they came to get me to jump start my heart. There was nothing else to do; even the trashy TV was WAY too trashy to watch. I couldn’t reach my backpack that had my books and tablet. Defeated, I sunk into my hospital bed and took a nap.

They came to get me prepped for the procedure around 4:30 PM, and wheeled me downstairs. I had another fantastic nurse, who joked with me about having AFib, Vtach, Sick Sinus, Sinus Tach, PVC beats, and Bradycardia. I told him I brought everyone to the party. I was so scared. Luckily, my cardiac team is ON IT, and they know what they’re doing. It was so scary to let them put me under so they could look at my heart through my esophagus, and then shock me back into rhythm. The entire thing took almost no time, and it worked they told me.

They put me on oral meds, and hauled me back to my room. I got dinner that night, and ordered breakfast. I can honestly say that I have never been so happy to have hospital food in my life. I didn’t fall asleep until late, but everyone was hopeful I could go home in the morning.

Delicious hospital food.

Delicious hospital food.

In the morning, just as they brought me breakfast, I was told I was NPO again, because I was going to have a CT.  I don’t remember ever having a CT. This was just another scary situation to be in. My friend Martin had asked on Tuesday when was the last time you did something for the first time. I couldn’t remember when he asked, but I was smack in the middle of doing a lot of things for the first time in those few days. It was the first time I didn’t have family or a friend to hold on to in a scary situation.

I hadn’t been in the hospital since my miscarriage in 2004, and then I had a friend and a cousin that came with me. Granted, I was still in Denver. When the CT was over, I was wheeled back to my room, and it wasn’t long before my cardiologist came to tell me I could go home.

A few hours later, I drove myself home.

I have no health insurance.

I have to schedule an ablation to have the scar tissue removed from my heart.

If that works, we’ll discuss a later replacement of the pacemaker. If it doesn’t, we’ll discuss it for sooner.

I’m still very scared, and feel very alone, which is part of what exacerbated the entire thing to begin with.

I’m more homesick now than ever, and I want to move home to Colorado as soon as I can. I know, I know. I couldn’t get to Florida fast enough. I believe wholly that I was guided here to fix my heart. How else do you explain finding literally the best adult congenital cardiology team in the country, randomly online here?

In the mean time, I’ve made plans to join a writer’s group meetup, and I have an interview for a part-time job.

I can’t do much of anything, or eat anything that tastes really great, for at least 2 weeks.

There will be major changes to this blog in the coming months. For starters, I’m not going to focus on food as much as a well-rounded life.

I got home safely, and sat down with my ice water to watch Iron Chef.

I got home safely, and sat down with my ice water to watch Iron Chef.

If there’s anything else you think you want to see here, let me know in the comments.

I’m ever grateful for you, and for the doctors and nurses who are taking care of me.

Until next time!



P.S. I’m on Patreon, if you are interested. I will begin to give out patron-only posts in the coming weeks. You can also help one time, through PayPal, if that’s your bag. If you don’t like either of those options, I’ve got two books published on Amazon, and a few more coming soon.




Sometimes LIfe Makes You Pivot

About Terra Walker

Terra loves creating recipes, imparting wisdom, searching for an amazing cider, owning this website, and traveling the globe. You can catch up with Terra on the channels above, where she never uses third person, because she hates writing about herself that way.


  1. Pingback: My Congenital Heart Disease Story - Sorta | A Spork in the Road

  2. Pingback: 2017: My Year in Review | A Spork in the Road

  3. Pingback: Living With Anxiety & Congenital Heart Disease | A Spork in the Road

What do you think?