According to my cardiologist, and the previous one, every single person on the planet gets Premature Ventricular Contractions, or PVCs for short. Most people are lucky enough not to notice them. I’ve pointed out to Mr. Muse the exact moment that he has had a PVC and he just shakes his head and says, “Nope. Didn’t feel it.” I’m a cardiac patient (as indicated by “my cardiologist” in the first sentence of this post, and have been dealing with PVCs for the last 24 years. I’m hyper-sensitive to the pause-and-thud of a PVC, often in quantities of more than one, so sensitive in fact that I can’t rest with my head on Mr. Muses chest as his infrequent PVCs cause waves of anxiety to wash over me which trigger my own PVCs. It’s a vicious cycle.
I never had anxiety, at least in the capacity that I do now, when I was younger. Years of heart issues that always hit when I was in a state of rest, once causing me to not sleep until I collapsed from utter exhaustion for two weeks, means that when it’s time to relax – that’s when I feel the least at ease. At times I have literally sat on the edge of my seat waiting for “something” to happen while I tried to reach a state of calm. I like control and I was, and am, unable to control my cardiac events.
During times of utter chaos, I have felt most in control. I could see everything that could or should be done and set myself or others to action. I can direct and maneuver and get things done. My independent heart will hear nothing of it, and stubbornly ignores my demands, which soon devolve into teary-eyed pleas, to just beat “normally”.
However, stressful times often beget more stress, and while I can’t say I thrive on stress – it keeps my mind occupied and diverted away from what my heart is doing and preventing panic attacks. Apparently this sick and twisted ideology is also the reason why I can’t relax when I should be and why, when things get really bad, I have to take anti-anxiety medication.
There is a silver lining in all of this. No, really. It dawned on me last Thursday that stress as always been my trigger for PVCs (except for this one time) so I started to think about all the things that I was feeling stressed out about. The list was long and storied, from planned vacations and weekends away to work. Some of the items were things that I knew I didn’t need to be stressed about, while others were not as stressful as I was making them out to be. And like that, the PVCs, once I put my mind to logically and rationally figuring things out, lessened. Oh, they haven’t left completely and at present I’m still wearing the Holter monitor that was put in place Friday morning to track my every heartbeat for 48 hours. (As soon as this post is edited and posted this monitor is coming off and I’m taking a shower! Because you can’t bathe while wearing one.)
The chest pain, feeling like someone is sitting on my chest, arm and jaw pain (yes… all symptoms of a heart attack… I am well-aware), the PVCs and the anxiety are slowly melting away. Mr. Muse may even miss my, “Are you looking at my leads? My eyes are up here, Mister,” as he intentionally stares are the wires and stickers where they are attached to my chest just to get me to say that. I’m not even worried very much about what my cardiologist will find when it comes to the results of the heart monitor, either the plans will be to do nothing or to do something; it’s pretty much out of my hands… other than handling my stress. To that I raise my mug of chamomile tea in cheers.
What do you do to handle stress in your life?
What are the best ways you have found to relax?