So, the other morning I was walking into Lowe's looking for some lumber when I got up to the door and had to sit down. Classic symptoms of a heart attack -- stabbing pain in the heart radiating down the left arm, indigestion, numbness. Holy crap, I thought, I've never had one of these before. Since I wasn't far from Rosey's work, I called her to come and get me to take me to the ER (acting on previous experience of a friend that it takes the EMT's out that way at least five minutes to drop their doughnuts and get behind the wheel of their vehicle).
So, I get there and they agree with me that it is classic symptoms, but the EKG is (more or less) normal. They admit me for observation. That night, someone comes into my room and hangs a bag of magnesium solution in my IV. What's that? I ask. They tell me. Why do I need that? The nurse tells me they have discovered from my bloodwork that I have an acute magnesium deficiency.
Hypomagnesemia (or hypomagnesaemia) is an electrolyte disturbance in which there is an abnormally low level of magnesium in the blood. . . Hypomagnesemia may result from a number of conditions including inadequate intake of magnesium, chronic diarrhea, malabsorption, alcoholism, chronic stress, and medications such as diuretic use among others. . .
Of course, I have to take diuretics every now and then to ward off water build-up that might lead to congestive heart failure and the trip to Washington had my legs and feet swollen so I was taking it again. I have also been struggling with chronic diarrhea and as far as stress, well, it comes with job. Magnesium is needed to help the smooth muscles, like the heart, fire in proper order. Lack of it can simulate a heart attack, which I discovered quite by accident.
Deficiency of magnesium causes weakness, muscle cramps, abnormal heart rhythms, increased irritability of the nervous system with tremors, athetosis, jerking, nystagmus, and an extensor plantar reflex. In addition, there may be confusion, disorientation, hallucinations, depression, epileptic fits, hypertension, a fast heart rate, and tetany.
The Albino: Well, the Prince and Count always insist on everyone being healthy before they're broken.Westley: So it's to be torture?The Albino: [nods enthusiastically]Westley: I can cope with torture.The Albino: [shakes head enthusiastically]Westley: Don't believe me?The Albino: You survived the Fire Swamp, so you must be very brave, but no one withstands The Machine. -- The Princess Bride, 1987.
Well, I sure had weakness and irritability on the WA trip, although I guess I should be grateful that I didn't get too deep down the well until my little "heart attack." Of course the cardiac docs, being cardiac docs and having me in their clutches, scheduled me for a stress test anyway yesterday morning, although because they didn't make early morning rounds I hadn't had a chance to discuss the fact with them that given the magnesium deficiency it probably wouldn't tell us anything. So, off I went to meet The Machine.
My heart has been gradually slowing down over the years until the usual resting rate is between 40 and 50 beats a minute. I also have a chronic arrhythmia that is not particularly worrisome, but something to keep an eye on. So, they tell me I've got to do the treadmill until the heart rate gets up to their standard written down on this piece of paper (they actually point to the piece of paper) -- 130 beats per minute. I last until I get to 102 and I'm throwing PVCs with abandon then, on the verge of a real heart attack, I quit on them. They're upset. They write down that I quit on them and they're very disappointed. I later find out from the cardio doc that he would have been happy to see what it was like at 102. Well, I said, you need to get that across to the violators of the Geneva Convention downstairs. Anyway, he agrees that whole exercise, while not exactly pointless, was probably not needed since we have accidentally discovered that it was an acute magnesium deficiency all along. Gee thanks, Doc.
So they discharged me late this morning with magnesium pills and advice to go easy on the diuretic (easier said than done) and the chronic diarrhea (like I could turn THAT off). Sorry I was unable to post while there because the hospital had my site blocked for "no security certificate" and "inappropriate content" (it seemed to alternate excuses, strangely enough).
Anyway, I'm back and I'm sorry I gave the One Hundred Life and Casualty Company consternation at my unexplained absence.