My ER Visit Update

Since everyone is wanting an update on exactly what happened with me yesterday, I figure a blog post is in order. Many of you now know that I had to have JR take me to the ER yesterday. The whole thing actually started very early in the morning yesterday – around a quarter to 1. My phone rang, which woke me up and I realized my heart was racing – again. But first, a little “back story” on why I waited so long to make the decision to go to the ER…

Problems with my heart are nothing new for me. I was diagnosed with a heart murmur when I was in the 5th grade. I was told at the time the heart murmur (due to a defective heart valve) was caused by Rheumatic Fever I had when I was 2 and that it was the kind of murmur I would not grow out of and it was highly suggested that I have heart valve replacement surgery.

The heart murmur diagnosis explained why I passed out so much during physical activity (once even during one of my birthday parties). So, my physical activity was seriously limited – no more PE class, no basketball, no running, nada… Time went on and I never had the surgery. Every time I went to the doc my mom would always ask if they could still hear the murmur – every time they could still hear it.

I moved to Virginia when I was 18. Shortly after I went to the doc to figure out once and for all if I needed to have the surgery (since my then husband was in the military I would be able to have pretty much anything I needed to have done for free at Portsmouth Naval Hospital). They could not find the heart murmur. Strange, but true – it was gone. Relief.

Fast forward about a year. I woke up suddenly (middle of the day – I was working night shift) with the feeling that someone was laying on top of me. I was difficult to breathe & my heart was racing. After a few minutes I realized it wasn’t going to stop. So, I told my then husband that I needed to go to the hospital & I dragged myself into the shower real fast (I had to sit in the tub because I couldn’t stand) & threw on some clothes. We rushed off to the hospital. Unfortunately we got stuck in some serious traffic. What should have only taken us about 20 minutes to get to the hospital took us almost 2 1/2 hours. They rushed me in & hooked me up to the EKG machine. It didn’t work. It was detecting my heart rate (217), but not printing the rhythm out like it was supposed to. UGH. So, as they were trying to figure out why the machine wasn’t working one of the nurses stuck an IV needle in my arm. That was just enough shock to my system to convert my heart rhythm back to normal. Of course, just a few moments later the stinkin’ EKG machine started working. Unfortunately, they never got my irregular heart rhythm documented.

A visit to the cardiologist & a Holter monitor study later they still didn’t really find anything – but I was put on beta blockers for a year. That sucked – I wanted to sleep all the time. Nothing like that episode happened again for several years – even through the stress of a divorce & move from Virginia back to Oklahoma.

The next time it happened I was living in Hawaii. I was at a study group & it hit me again. After a few minutes I knew I needed to be seen, so, stupidly, I drove myself home then had my husband, J.R., take me in to the clinic. Right as we were almost there it stopped. But, we had them check me out anyway…nothing. GGRRR… It did happen a few more times while we were in Hawaii, but they only lasted a few minutes, so we didn’t even bother leaving the house.

Years pass, and no incidents. Even while I was working at the prison in a high stress environment I only remember it happening once or twice, and again, they were only a few minutes. It always seems like they start when I’m relaxed – not when I’m involved in any physical activity or stressed.

The past, oh, 6 months I guess, I’ve had a hand-full of episodes – mostly very short lived – a few minutes. One was a little longer – half hour or so. But this last one was not my normal episode.

Like I said earlier, my phone rang about a quarter to 1 Sunday morning. Wrong number I’m guessing because it was an out of state number & they didn’t leave a message. Anyway, when I woke up I realized my heart was racing & it was difficult to get a full breath. JR was working (night shift) and the kids were in bed, so I just tried to relax and go back to sleep, since I knew the episodes normally passed in a few minutes. I was able to doze off and on the rest of the night – but very restless & needless to say, not comfortable at all. JR came home & went to sleep. I didn’t want to bother him. When I heard the kids get up, they started playing the Wii. So, I got up and came in to lay on the couch, hoping a change of venue would help me relax more and maybe I’d be able to catch a nap. No such luck.

So, I dragged myself into the shower & washed my hair so I wouldn’t feel so gross. I figured while I was in there I’d try shocking my system with a cold shower to see if that would work (since plunging your head in ice-water is actually a medically recognized way to shock your system back to normal). Again, nope.

So, I laid on the bathroom floor for a while – I don’t know how long. Then I got up and laid down in the bed with JR. Finally, around 2:30 P.M., I woke JR up & asked him to take me to the hospital. I called around to a few neighbors to see if they could watch the girls – of course, being the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, no one was answering their phone. Last ditch effort – calling Brianna’s best friend’s mom – SUCCESS. She rushed over to pick up the girls. Of course, right after she got here, one of the neighbors came over. I chose to go ahead and let the girls go with Brianna’s friend’s mom since I knew they’d have a great time over there and would be way less likely to be worrying about me.

While JR was getting showered & dressed I tried to call TriCare to let them know I was headed to the ER – of course, they’re closed. Typical.

We finally left the house a little after 3:30. Since JR knows the EMS folks in town pretty well, we drove past to see if they were in. They were, so we had one of them give me a quick once over, just to make sure I wasn’t just having a panic attack or something. The paramedic listened to my heart & lungs & then highly suggested we get to the ER because he suspected I was in SVT. So, off we went. This is totally silly, but JR’s wondering out loud about the quickest way to get to the hospital – since we hadn’t been since Delaney was born almost 3 1/2 years ago. I looked at him and said, “You’ve got a GPS!” (I bought him the GPS to use in his patrol car a couple of months ago). So, I plugged the hospital in as the destination – it decided to take us via the scenic route, but it actually was faster.

We finally get to the ER (in JR’s police car & him all decked out in his uniform, since he was supposed to work that evening) a little after 4. He filled out the forms and came to sit down with me. A few minutes later they called me back & hooked me up to the EKG machine. The nurse took one look at the printout, ripped it out of the machine & high tailed it out of the room. A few seconds later she & and another person came back in saying, “We’ve got to get her out of here & into the other room.” So, into the other room I went and the room quickly filled with people – complete with a “crash cart”. I had all sorts of things stuck to my chest for various monitoring. I didn’t realize it at the time, but they had also had the pads stuck on me for the defibrillator (just in case). They quickly told me they would be putting some medication into my IV port that would stop my heart for a few seconds allowing it to hopefully return to a normal rhythm when it restarted. Of course, they had the defibrillator pads stuck on me in case they needed to shock me. THAT was a freaky feeling. Having your heart stopped but people are still telling you to breath, just keep breathing, all while you’re grunting & trying to breathe. After what seemed like forever, but I’m sure was only about 10 seconds, I felt my heart beating normally. It was such a relief. The conversations after that seem to all get jumbled together, but I do remember asking to make sure that they actually did get the irregular rhythm documented this time. They said, they indeed did. I remember I started crying at that point because it was such a relief knowing that I REALLY DID have something wrong and that it was not documented.

And, in true fashion, after everything was over and we knew I would be fine, JR joked that he should have just tazed me and I would have been fine. He also knew I was fine when I asked for my iPod and immediately checked to see if the hospital had an unsecured Wi-Fi connection (they did) so I could update my social networks.

They kept me there for a couple of hours just to make sure I didn’t have any other reactions to the heart stopping medication. One of the first nurses that had seen me came in to check on me once and said that it was nice to see that I wasn’t gray anymore. I was very tired, and my chest was still very sore from my heart going nuts inside, so it was hard to take a “full” breath, but my blood oxygen level was 100%, so I was getting plenty of oxygen – it just still hurt to breathe. I was finally relaxed enough that I was able to sleep.

After we got home and ate something, the girls came home & JR headed out to work – 2 1/2 hours later than planned. I had the girls sleep in the room with me (on the floor, because neither of them can keep still & I didn’t want all that activity in the bed) just in case something happened & I needed Brianna to make a phone call for me. I slept like a rock. But, I’m still a little tired today. My chest only hurts when I try to take a BIG breath & earlier when I had a small case of the hiccups.

I need to call to make an appointment with the heart hospital in Columbia Tuesday when the offices open back up, and I also need to let my regular doctor know what’s going on. I don’t know if this is going to mean a change in the way my ADHD is treated, but I’m not going to take my meds “just in case” until I talk to my doctor. And, in case anyone has thought about it, I had not taken my Adderall since Wednesday, so it’s highly unlikely that this was in any way related since this has happened many times long before I started on the Adderall. Plus, once it wears off (within a few hours), it’s out of your system – it doesn’t linger.

I’m very thankful for all my friends, who’ve shown concern. I’m very touched. Thank you all.


  1. Dana Fortier says:

    OMG! I don’t even know what to say about this whole ordeal except PLEASE TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF and get this checked out AND let us know what’s going on.

  2. Dana, this is ME you’re talking about – you think I’m NOT going to tell people what’s happening? I’m the over-sharer of the bunch.

  3. OMG! I don’t even know what to say about this whole ordeal except PLEASE TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF and get this checked out AND let us know what’s going on.

  4. What a story, Sherra! It’s about time that your condition has finally been documented – maybe now you’ll find out how you can treat this.

    Take it easy and keep up your positive attitude!

    Eydie ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Jennifer says:

    Quite a story. Take care of yourself. You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers.


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