Over a year ago, early in that fateful fifth pregnancy, I was sitting at my desk working when my heart felt like a bag of marbles being shaken. It was only for less than a minute but it was so strange and I was worried. A few months later and I felt the same thing again while staying at my mum’s. Then we lost boy3 and I must have had other things to concern me as didn’t feel another one until May this year. But that was enough, I’d also been experiencing a fast, thumping heart when getting up from my desk, so I went to the GP. She did an ECG which automatically suggested something slight with my left atrium. Not a diagnosis but enough for a referral to the local cardiology department.
The initial referral was cancelled converted to an ECG, an ultrasound and a 5 day monitor with a nurse practitioner appointment at the end. The nurse analysed the 5 day monitor and noted some fast and slow rates and the odd missed beat but nothing out of the normal range. I hadn’t had a “bag of marbles” sensation during the monitor so she wanted to discharge me.
Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
I asked to be referred to cardiology and the nurse wasn’t pleased, she asked if I’d reported the “bag of marbles” – which was the whole reason for the referral. I had to insist but she gave in eventually. I don’t mean that I think I know more than her but I do know my body and I don’t want to ignore this. She also told me I feel the thumping more because I’m slim and that I should do weights to improve my heart health (rather than running).
I arrived at the hospital early because I hate stressing about parking – quickly decided to park off site and walk. I checked in to reception 20mins before my appointment and sat down to start writing this. But before I’d even titled the post a nurse came to get me for an ECG – my heart still pounding after walking from the car park. Back to a seat and then up again for BP check – 142/88, rather high.
Then I got a little wait until the Dr called me. He had looked over my ECGs from this morning and the 5 day monitor. He listened to my concerns about the “bag of marbles” feeling – much more so than the nurse had. He thinks this is sequences of ectopic beats rather than the atrial fibrillation that I was afraid of.
He explained to me about the risk factors to do with abnormalities in rhythm and other reactions or symptoms that would concern him – fainting regularly for example. Overall, my symptoms as they stand alone aren’t concerning. They might be annoying for me but clinically they are within “normal”. He recommended a pocket ECG recorder if I want to track things in more detail and said to send any traces through by email if I capture one. An alternative would be a small device under my skin but he didn’t think my symptoms warrant that.
I feel huge relief. My gran and my dad and my other grandpa have experienced heart problems and I was getting worried that maybe I had something going on. The doctor also reassured me that these symptoms at my age are not an indicator for problems later in life. I don’t need to worry that I’m fine now but might have trouble later that could have been prevented by doing something now.
I’m glad I followed up, much better than worrying indefinitely. How wonderful is our NHS? I was in and out in an hour, the staff were lovely, professional and caring, I have an open way of communicating if anything changes, and I know they’ve been thorough in their checks.