My soccer team had two games scheduled yesterday for 4 and 5 o’clock in the hundred degree heat. The first match was against our arch-nemeses from last season, whom we beat in the regular season and fell to in the championship.
I played the whole first half because we had only one sub, and I figured I’d need to be that sub in the second half. I walked off the field, heart racing. I was sweating normally, I wasn’t sore, I wasn’t feverish, flush, nauseous or dizzy, but my heart wouldn’t slow down at all.
I sat on the sideline in some shade, drank water, stretched out. I had a teammate’s wife check my pulse every few minutes. She said it wasn’t slowing down.
The strange thing is that aside from my pulse, I felt perfectly normal for playing in a game. I didn’t want to leave my teammates without a sub for the next 30 minutes, especially considering we had another game coming up. So in the second half, I’d come on the field for a few minutes at a time and simply stand up front, just to give someone else a break. I told my teammates the situation and said I wasn’t moving an inch unless the ball came right to my feet (which isn’t too much different from when I’m healthy). The game finished in a tie. I played maybe eight-to-ten minutes of the second half.
And that was it. I didn’t play at all in the next game. I alternated between sitting and lying flat in the shade. This brought my pulse back down to normal.
So, the first thing this morning, I made an appointment with a doctor I haven’t seen in maybe 15 years. Went in at 2:00, height 5’9″ with no shoes on, weight 205 (down about 15 for the calendar year). Pulse normal. Blood pressure measured from the left arm was fine. Diastolic pressure measured from the right arm was a little bit high.
I told the doctor my symptoms, answered his questions about my medical history, the family’s medical history (which he should know, being the family doctor), my eating, drinking, and exercise habits, and so on. He wrote, asked, and talked more than any doctor I’ve encountered. This worried me, especially when he threw around words like “tachycardia” and phrases like “athletes suddenly dropping dead.”
He did an EKG. Good news: I’ve never had a heart attack. I’d like to think that I’d have noticed a heart attack when it occurred, but sometimes I get preoccupied so something like that might’ve slipped by. Who knows.
He said it looked like tachycardia, which I thought meant my heart travelled backwards in time, but apparently not. His orders: two baby aspirin a day. No physical exertion until I get the OK from the doc. Stay out of the heat. A chest x-ray and bloodwork as soon as possible, and then an appointment with a cardiologist.
I went for the chest x-ray immediately in a facility not even five minutes away. It went more smoothly than I expected, with one nerve-wracking exception. The tech asked if I’d ever had chest surgery. I hadn’t. Then, after she shot the x-rays, and after I got a glimpse at them on a computer screen, she asked again. Wondering “What was on the x-ray that made you ask again?” worked wonders for my nerves.
And that’s where things stand. My soccer season is over. I can’t ride the bike–which has helped bring down my weight–for the forseeable future. I can’t engage in strenuous physical activity of any sort until the doctor says so. Chicago is just a month away–what if I can’t drive for that long a time, or even take a flight?
I have to make the bloodwork appointment tomorrow. No idea when I’ll get to see the cardiologist. No exertion, no heat, more tests and God-only-knows what comes after that… my summer may just be shot to hell.
My teammates called, texted and e-mailed to make sure I was okay. That helped. Thank you.
Back in the ER. Blood drawn, IV hooked up.