Friday, February 13, 2015

Heart Sleep

Today's post will be mostly an update on Mom, covering what has happened since her hospitalization on Christmas Eve due to an increased heart rate (palpitations). I went with Mom to her cardiologist appointment with Dr. R on January 6, and he said the test results from the December hospitalization looked fine. After asking her how often these episodes occur, what are the symptoms, how long do they last, etc., he said he wanted her to wear a heart monitor for a few weeks to hopefully capture an episode so he can see what is going on. His nurse came in after that and described the process for receiving and using the heart monitor. It seems simple enough to use. (It's the SAVI Wireless by Medicomp if you are curious to learn more.) The electrodes she attaches to her chest are wired to a small pendant, and that is all that must stay "attached" to her. The pendant communicates to a cell phone that is part of the system, and the cell phone calls the data in to the central server where all the data is kept. Mom received the monitor in the mail two days after the appointment, and then a day or two after that she got it connected.

An interesting thing came up during the conversation with the nurse regarding the heart monitor, and that was the fact that Mom has not been using her CPAP machine since she had a sinus infection several months ago. Mom's CPAP machine has been a sore subject for several years. It's very big and heavy compared to current styles. Medicaid used to replace them every five years, but that stopped at some point and now I guess they only replace them if they break. Mom's machine is probably closer to 10 years old than it is to 5, and it works fine but is a real hassle to travel with due to the size and weight. Anyway, Dr. R's nurse was familiar with CPAP machines and sleep studies, so she referred Mom to a sleep medicine doctor.

On January 8, Mom saw the sleep medicine doctor (sleepologist?). He suggested she have a sleep study because it had been so long since her previous one, and also because she has lost so much weight since her initial diagnosis of sleep apnea. She had the sleep study the evening of January 13. Unfortunately they told her the following week that she had to do another sleep study for some reason, so she had another sleep study on January 20.

January 29 was a busy day for us because I took Mom to get her new sleep machine in the morning and then we met with her cardiologist in the afternoon. Her new sleep machine is considerably lighter than the old one and has some newer features on it. She was very happy with it and it is doing mostly ok, although there may still be an issue with the mask staying snug all night long.

At the cardiologist appointment Dr. R said the heart monitor did capture a few episodes of increased heart rate, which Mom knew about because she noted them in her book where she records her blood pressure and pulse readings a few times each day. He said it got as high as 150 bpm, which is not good although it is not life-threatening. He said her heart is not having any atrial fibrillation (fluttering heart beat), and he would like to treat it with drugs first. He wants to replace one of her blood pressure medications (Nifedipine) with Verapamil and see how that does. The interesting thing about that is Mom was on Verapamil until November of 2013, when her blood pressure was becoming more difficult to control. The Verapamil was replaced with a different medication when the nephrologist was making some changes to help control her blood pressure. And the reason she was prescribed Verapamil initially several years ago was to control heart palpitations. So hopefully this change to Verapamil will take care of the heart palpitations again.

On his way out the door Dr. R told us the medical term for what is going on with Mom's heart. I did not quite understand the full phrase and it was not something I had heard before, but I did catch the ending which was "tachycardia." So after I got home I asked Dr. Google about it, and based on what I recall Dr. R saying about what is actually happening, I'm 99% sure he said this condition is supraventricular tachycardia. (That's 11 syllables, more than twice as many as "amyloidosis.") A quick read of the Wikipedia article tells me it is rarely a serious condition, and the treatments vary depending on the type of supraventricular tachycardia. So right now it does not seem like it's something to worry too much about.

In other Mom news, her hemoglobin has been having some ups and downs this past month. On January 14, her hemoglobin was up to 12.8 so they stopped given her Epogen during dialysis. Unfortunately it was back down to 10.1 two weeks later, and most recently back up to 11. It is not considered "low" unless it goes below 10, so there is nothing to really worry about yet. We are a couple of weeks past the due date for another trip to the hospital for another GI bleed, so we're keeping our fingers crossed.

In other family news, I had my annual physical last week. Still no signs of kidney problems, so that's good news.

In other other news, someone I went to college with had been posting on Facebook about her mother being in the hospital for several days. She decided to start a CaringBridge page to keep friends and family updated instead of putting all of that on Facebook. I was reading the first entry where she was describing when her mother first became ill and what the symptoms were, and then what was going on with this most recent hospital stay and how the doctors could not determine what the problem was. Then my jaw dropped when I read that she had finally been diagnosed with AL amyloidosis. Small world, eh? I sent her an email telling her about me and Mom, and included some links to the best places to get info online. Hopefully her mother can start healing now that she finally has a diagnosis.

That's all for now. Hopefully I'll get an article review published by the end of the month.

=====Monthly Blog Status Update===== 

As of January 31, 2015:

Total posts: 147 (2 in January)

Total pageviews: 23,000 (~600 in January)

Email subscribers: 12 (unchanged)

Total number of countries that have viewed the blog: 101

No new countries viewed the blog in December.

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