As recounted elsewhere, I had an appointment today with a specialist to take a look under the hood. Specifically, I had an EKG (second one in two weeks), an echo-cardiogram and cardiac stress test.
I don’t know what is going on but I’m confident that it is not life threatening. It is however disconcerting.
Sometime in the middle of November, I began to experience uncomfortable shocks on my chest during workouts. I thought it was a bad HRM. The sensation is not unlike a very strong, sudden pinch as if a live battery had been touched against my chest. It wasn’t the HRM.
I cannot get the issue out of my head and a mild annoyance has become a focus point for my attention in the past week — mostly negative thoughts. Last Thursday night, I had a whopper of a shock. It startled me more than anything.
As to the shock, sometimes it happens once, other times two or three times inside of about ten minutes. During about half of my workouts it does not occur at all. Usually I am on my bike, never in the pool, twice while lifting weights and a few times while running. When this happens, I don’t have to stop exercising, the pain leaves as quickly as it appears and it has no discernible effect on my heart rate or breathing.
As a result, this morning I found myself wired up with a dozen electrodes across my torso in a room with two nurses, fancy medical devices and a mundane looking treadmill in the corner. When all was said and done, the treadmill turned out to have an attitude about altitude. (I finished the test running at an 18 percent grade.)
I didn’t like the doctor, didn’t break the informal record the nurses have for a patient on the treadmill (missed it by less than two minutes), and didn’t get to see any cool pictures of my innards or of my heart pumping. Also, no answers to the problem that I’ve been having.
On the upside, a few very serious problems were ruled out. My heart appears normal and functions well “under an extremely high load” which I think is doctor-speak for when you are really pushing it. The consensus between two doctors is that the problem is not cardiac though it may be muscular, skeletal or neurological or some combination.
The general practitioner thinks I may have some sort of abnormality of the fleshy bits that are layered between the top two ribs and they roll, pinch or otherwise disturb a nerve there when I sit in the aero position, breath heavily or move back and forth from aero to upright for too long. Then, POW! The nerve fires off a blast of energy that I can feel right through my chest. Weird but plausible and there are no alternate theories at the moment.
The doctor has no concerns and says I should not either. She also says that she doesn’t really know what is going on. Next Tuesday I have a previously scheduled appointment for a physical that includes blood work that can be benchmarked against standard tests I’ve had done for a decade — cholesterol and the like.
All in all, I’m still digesting this issue. It has been very upsetting. In addition to the mysterious jolts I also would like to understand why the doctors say not to worry but my mind goes toward the worst case scenario.
When I’m a little more reflective about it all, I’ll share more. I’m trying hard to discern — to learn from the episode. In the meantime, I was given some pass or fail tests, and I passed. Though I have no reason to worry, it is hard to let it go. And, even though the week has been very rough — missed sleep, missed workouts, stress, anxiety — it is nearly over and it was not a complete loss. In fact, Wednesday night was very, very fun and memorable.