A Hole, Eh?

I spent the entire weekend in panic mode, non-stop Googling and diagnosing myself with various diseases. I found out that an “urgent” referral means “significant potential for early intervention to save life/prevent hospitalization or functional impairment,” so that scared me, needless to say. What helped me get through this weekend was my mindfulness practice. In addition to my regular meditation, I kept telling myself that “Right now I am okay.” At this very moment in time I feel fine. Nothing has changed since before my echo a week ago, ergo, I am okay and should stop worrying. It really did help.

I met my cardiologist, Dr. D, this morning. I was super anxious so I walked up and down the street near his office, pacing, trying to burn off my nervous energy, for about 45 minutes before the appointment. He’s a really nice doctor, really laid back, and calm. This puts one at ease when one is crawling out of one’s skin with anxiety! He explained that I have a hole in my heart, so oxygenated blood is getting mixed with un-oxygenated blood, and one side is receiving too much blood, which will damage it in time. It’s also pumping less efficiently, so that would explain why I can’t breathe well when I run and why I’m tired all the time. (I always thought I had exercise-induced asthma, and in regards to the tiredness, I had gone to the doctor on several occasions complaining of fatigue and never got a proper answer.)

I need to get an MRI now to see how big the hole is and to confirm the diagnosis, which should take about two months. If it’s small, he said he might just keep an eye on it and not intervene, whereas if it’s large, it might require surgery. Eeeek! He also listened to my heart and said I have a definite murmur, which struck me as odd. How has no doctor in 35 years ever noticed this before? One thing he said that’s fantastic, in addition to my excellent blood pressure, is that I am okay to run! It shouldn’t hurt me at all if I continue to run. Hallelujah!

This is a lot to process. I know nothing about holes in hearts so off I go to research, but first, I run.