Thursday, May 14, 2009

Clear! Athletes and Arrhythmias Part Deux

When I walked into the cardiologist's office Wednesday afternoon, I might as well have had a hand growing out of my face--the stares I got for being the only person under 70 in the room were intense. Even the check-in ladies seemed curious as to why I was there.

I could feel my heart beating funny from the anxiety of waiting for a diagnosis.

I was quickly led back down a dreary hall to a patient room that must've been fashionably decorated in the 60s. Maybe that's why all the 70-year olds like that office.

Then the Dr. came in, looked over all of my test results--the electrocardiogram, the Holter monitor, bloodwork--and said exactly what I heard 4 years ago: You have PVCs. Don't worry, they won't do anything to you. They're really just annoying more than anything. If you pass out, come and see me again.

Then he gave me a treadmill stress test to be sure.

Lying down, my heart beat funny. PVCs strewn all over. Standing up, it beat funny. But once I started walking, it beat perfectly. In fact, the Dr. had to ramp up the mph and incline higher than the test stated to in order to get my heart rate to 166. I ran straight up a mechanical mountain at 6mph for what seemed like an eternity until he was satisfied, all the while watching my heart beat beautifully.

Then, when I sat down again, the PVCs returned.

In conclusion: I am the human equivalent of the bus in the 1994 Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock classic, Speed. I can't slow down, or I will blow up. Or rather I'll feel like someone locked a 6 year-old in my ribcage for a time out, who then starts kicking to to be released, particularly when I would like to sleep.

Also in conclusion: Internet research is hardly a good thing to do when waiting for a heart diagnosis. I now know all of the evil forms arrhythmias can take, and all of the procedures done to try to keep them in check.

In particular, I freaked myself out reading about Greg Welch, who had to retire from triathlon immediately after finding out he had ventricular tachycardia.

A second opinion is in order, as the cardiologist did not fully grasp, I believe, exactly what training for an ultracycling event entails. My primary Dr., Dr. Ironman, does.

Also also in conclusion: It is impossible to fake your own brain out. I've been trying. If it freaks out or stresses for some reason, I try to cut off the info from reaching my heart, but so far the effort has been unsuccessful. I now have a truly important reason to meditate and try to achieve zen, besides trying not to blow up at people when they do stupid things.

Also x 3 in conclusion: Hallelujah! A huge thanks to God, who will be watching while I do my most monstrous long ride yet this weekend. I will be paying way more attention to fluid, electrolyte, and caffeine intake, and trying to get a lot of sleep the night before and after...heck, all of the time!

See you in the Santa Monicas!


  1. So glad it was good news!! What is the mileage this weekend?

  2. How ever far I can get in 12 hours on Saturday, +100 ez (ie. flatish) either tomorrow morning or Sunday. :D

  3. Phew! So glad to hear that things are going to be ok for you Erin!! Have a great weekend of riding! I'll be in Davis for the double - 2 weeks ago it rained all weekend there when we were riding the Davis 12/24hr Challenge - this weekend it's gonna be up near 100.....go figure! What did I ever do to piss mother nature off so much???? ;) This does mean though that I'll have paid my dues and RAO will have PERFECT weather conditions, right....right???? (Nod your head and say yes, and don't burst my bubble! ;] )

  4. Yes! Yes! Perfect weather!!! Have an awesome ride in Davis! That's very hardcore that you rode in the rain for the 12/24 hour challenge. You are certainly prepared to take on anything that comes your way--I think I can count on one finger the times I've ridden long in the rain :P