In this post, I talk about my ongoing battle with a condition called "neurocardiogenic syncope."
So. I have a weird condition. It’s taken 24 years and unquantifiable medical hoopla to figure out, but as of a few months ago, I finally have the real diagnosis:
DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN.
In simple terms (which comprise my only understanding of the whole mess), neuro-receptors around my heart sometimes (for no apparent reason) send the wrong signals to my brain. These wrong signals tell my brain to dilate my blood vessels in moments when the vessels actually need constricting. The result is a crazy rapid drop in blood pressure, and I pass out. Sometimes I stop breathing, which is great fun.
Most of the time, I regain consciousness right after vomiting. You don’t wanna know more than that. I promise.
The weirdest part of it all (and this is the part no doctors have been able to explain yet) is that I’ll wake up from a dead sleep in time to tell my husband I’m about to pass out. Then I pass out flat on my back without even sitting up in bed.
When I have one of these episodes, I feel weak, sickish, and lethargic for 2-4 weeks afterward. The good news is that none of this stuff is life-threatening — but it sure is dang inconvenient, because until I get over the weaksickishlethargic, I pretty much can’t do anything except watch TV.
The last two times this happened were in January and February of this year, respectively. I didn’t really feel like myself again until May.
The doc who gave me the definitive diagnosis a few months back? He wants to put me on beta blockers (to regulate heartbeat & blood pressure) or on anti-depressants (to up my serotonin levels, which the screwed-up neuro-receptors would appreciate).
I’m not too thrilled about either option. I spent 15 years (ages 14-29) on beta-blockers, and they made me sluggish and tired and pale and flabby. The doc assures me that today’s beta-blockers don’t have such strong side effects, but I am skeptical.
Also, I continued to have plenty of pass-out-stop-breathing-and-vomit episodes while on beta-blockers, so forgive me if I question their effectiveness.
In other news, I’m such a natural-foods, non-toxins hippie these days, I’m not keen on pumping more chemicals into my body. For the same reasons, I don’t like the idea of anti-depressants. If I were clinically depressed and under a psychiatrist’s care, that would be different. It’s true, I used to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, but that has gone away since I got my vitamin D levels up. I understand that the cardiologist doesn’t think I’m depressed…but still, I’m concerned that even if the anti-depressants helped my neuro-receptors, they’d have all sorts of unpleasant side effects. Like the kind that change who you are, and not necessarily for the better. I have no wish to alter my personality with chemicals.
What’s the Because?
I’m not sure why I’m writing about all of this here. I’m not sure why I’m telling y’all any of this…except that it’s a part of me, and this passing-out nonsense happens to me sometimes, and I might reference it on Twitter at some point.
Besides — how am I to know whether or not one of you struggles with this kind of stuff? If my baring my heart (har de har) leads to somebody getting some answers of their own, then I’ve done a good thing by rambling on about this.
Shiny! Now What?
Somebody at the doc’s office botched the process, and they haven’t called me in for a consultation again. I should call them…but for now, I ain’t gonna.
For now, I’m letting my friend and nutritionist Erin fix me up with whole foods and ply me with all sorts of fantabulous supplements to get my amino acids in order. In the past 11 months, I’ve dropped 25lbs., developed regular exercise habits, and learned to prepare (and eat eat eat!) healthy food. The girl who hates cooking has turned into a foodie. I’m still not a fan of elaborate meal prep, but at least I spend quality time with my kitchen utensils.
(Also, we tossed the microwave and got a food processor. Best kitchen move EVER.)
My heart still flutters, and I still see black & white spots sometimes when I stand up. I can never run as far or as long as I want to.
But I’m healthier than I’ve ever been, and I feel good about myself.
That’s good for my heart and great for my soul.
Speak up, lovelies. Neurocardiogenic syncope, anyone? What about your own health/fitness/nutrition woes? What about your successes?