The Apple Watch couldn’t measure my electrocardiogram. Umm, I think I’m in trouble here.
Ever have one of those moments when the Universe slaps you upside the head? I had one this week.
My heart’s electrical system went crazy. I needed a pacemaker to fix it.
First of all, I’m okay. Better than okay, really. I feel great, and I feel damn lucky.
Here’s the backstory. I haven’t felt well for weeks—months, really. I always have had blood pressure issues. Always too high. My cardiologist decided it was time to change my medicine. As my blood pressure got under control, my heart rate went down. Then way down. Was the new medicine causing it?
When I walked into the emergency room at Tampa General Hospital, my heart rate was 31. The doctor said, “I don’t know how you walked in here.” Heart rates are usually 60 and above. Elite athletes, they say, in the 50s. Ummm… either I was a super elite athlete, or I was having a big problem. If you know me, you know I’m not any kind of athlete.
It wasn’t my blood pressure. The electrical system in my heart was out of whack. “Total heart blockage,” the doctor said. “You need a pacemaker. Now.”
Total heart blockage. Was my lifestyle really that bad? No. This is electrical, not plumbing. I didn’t have clogged arteries. It was the top and bottom parts of my heart were not working well together… I think, not at all.
Upstairs we went. To the pacemaker room. (I’m just calling it that.) Everybody working was great. They explained everything. The anesthesiologist said I would be awake during the procedure. Really? They asked what kind of music I wanted to listen to? The doc said, “No country.” I said, “Barbra Streisand.” He said, “Interesting. I’ve never done one of these to that.”
Then, we did it. Well, they did it. I sang along to Streisand… “And we got nothing to be guilty of”… while they put in and calibrated a pacemaker. Awake the entire time. Finished in an hour.
I got to the cardiac ICU. The nurse asked if I could stand up. Absolutely, I could stand up. I felt better than I had in weeks. My heart rate, which had been in the 30’s was in the 90’s.
It’s funny. I never knew how badly I felt until I felt well again.
Last weekend, while all this was happening and they were trying to figure out what was wrong, my cardiologist sent me to the Apple store. He wanted me to get an Apple Watch that could measure my heart rate. I got the thing on my arm. Tapped on the ECG app. Yikes! My heart rate was too low to measure anything.
It wasn’t until Tuesday morning that I got myself to the hospital. By the end of the day, I felt great. Sore in the shoulder, but otherwise great.
I was telling my friend Lisa Lynn about all of this. She’s a fitness and lifestyle expert and a great friend. Her response: “You just got a quality of life upgrade.” She’s right. I got another chance.
At 62 years old, I get a chance to look at things differently.
I sat in the cardiac ICU at Tampa General and saw some really sick people. The sickest people I have ever seen. I realized then how lucky I am. I had a problem that was diagnosed and fixed quickly. I’m lucky.
I’m home now. Resting. Feeling great again. Now what? Is this a life changer? You bet it is. I’m not taking anything for granted anymore.
By the way, I just checked my Apple Watch ECG app. All good. It says I’m still alive!
Needless to say, I’ll be a customer for life.