Target

Oops, I ghosted my blog. Last Tuesday, I freaked out. In writing. I ranted about my blood pressure, certain kidney failure and vertigo. I thought I was dying. I was so convincing, both of my brothers texted me the next day to check up on me. I got a dozen blog comments, all saying the exact same thing: “Wishing you the best, hope you don’t die.” Then I went silent.

I’ve been waiting for this to happen for six months. For someone to write about nonspecific health concerns and then disappear. No more posts, no more likes or comments on my blog, no activity at all. Seven weeks later, a brief blog post appears: This is so-and so’s wife. He died last month from Covid-19. I’m shocked it hasn’t happened yet.

No, I don’t have Covid-19. Maybe I had it in the past (more on that later), but I don’t have it now. My blood pressure returned to normal, if anything was wrong with my kidneys, it’s better now, but I still feel dizzy at times. And while I fixed my immediate blood pressure concerns that sent me off the edge last week, I still don’t know what’s wrong with me.

Last Wednesday, I saw my doctor. We began to troubleshoot. This isn’t the optimum treatment plan—troubleshooting. I floated my theory. I had Covid-19 in February, it damaged my heart or lungs, that impacts my oxygen uptake into my brain, I get dizzy when I push my body with exercise. He didn’t dismiss it. I asked about taking an antibody test. “Well, that will tell you that you had Covid-19 or you got a false positive, or that you didn’t have Covid-19 or you got a false negative. Essentially,” he says, “the antibody test is useless.”

I bought an oxygen monitor. You’ve seen these, it’s the little clip thing the nurse puts on the end of your finger as they prep you for surgery. It indicates when you’re not getting enough oxygen. This is something every family should have. My kids have had endless fun with it since it came in the mail. Besides giving your oxygen saturation level, which apparently is between 97% and 99% for all people all the time, it also tracks heart rate. Mine is in the fifties.

On Sunday morning, I went for a run. I intended to catch my low oxygen level right when the dizziness hit. The temperature was cool-ish, around seventy-five degrees, but with humidity of 114%. I found it hard to breathe. Two miles into the run, cresting a moderate rise, I began to get dizzy. I quickly popped the monitor onto my finger, and sure enough, it read 98%, just like it always does. But my pulse beated 148. I’m not the sort of person (geek) who tracks data points like heart rate, so I couldn’t be sure, but that seemed rather high to me. A mile later, pretty much all up hill, I tried again, 154. I spent the rest of my run jogging a slow pace, trying to bring my heart rate down to a more reasonable level, but even with frequent stops to check my pulse, it never got below 148.

Target

Everything is on the internet, including this fancy chart that tells me how fast my heart should beat. I’m fifty-seven and change. My highest training heart rate (85% of maximum) should be 138. Not 154, I wasn’t even running a fast pace. The fact that I couldn’t reduce my heart rate below 148 tells me something. I’m not exactly sure what, but I now believe my dizziness is related to my heart rate.

If I stick with my Covid-19 theory, I seem screwed. Something broke in my heart. And five months later it isn’t better. A couple of my blog readers are doctors. They will undoubtedly tell me to stop guessing, and by all means, stop googling. To them I respond: I’d think you’d know me better by now.

This is my last post on this topic. There’s nothing left to say until I get concrete answers–if I get concrete answers. Thanks for bearing with me this one last time.

19 thoughts on “Target

  1. Something broke in all of our hearts when C19 came on scene.

    I think you are in better shape than most people and you should stop worrying yourself to death. Stress can increase your heart rate too.
    Maybe you’ve always had a faster heart rate. Are you comparing yourself to a chart or to your previous self??

    And, for the record, I’ve been wondering how the doctor visit went. I’m glad you posted so I didn’t have to bug Robyn and see if she’d heard anything😁

    Liked by 1 person

    • The points you bring up are the things driving me nuts. I definitely have a problem, but am I creating a ginormous problem in my head by stressing over it? I’m talking with a different doctor (by phone) this evening. I’m hoping he gives me some concrete steps to take. I mostly only talk with Robyn through comments, so no secret communication going on there.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Get a holter. With your consistency in running, I’d be surprised a moderate run would push your heart rate up and make you dizzy. It can be an irregularity in your heart rate that causes it to measure fast, and can make you dizzy, but the only way to catch it would be to get a 24 hr holter monitor, go for a run, and hope to see symptoms.
    If it’s normal, the heart rate elevation can happen if you’re dealing with an asymptomatic virus like a cold, or if you’re over training, or if excessively hot /dehydrated, etc.
    Glad you’re alive btw 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • My father wore a holter recently after some eye-drops made him faint in walmart. It’s a good strategy. Based on a conversation I’ve started having with a doc who is also an athlete, I think I’m going to get a heart rate monitor to wear while exercising. Do you have any opinions about wrist v. chest. Cost is an important factor… tuition payments just started for my daughter.

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      • If you’re talking about getting a heart rate monitor to track rate only , chest has been traditionally more accurate (and cheaper I think), though some of the newer wrist ones (ie in the past 2 yrs) I’ve heard are fairly accurate. You can get a decent suunto or garmin with chest strap monitoring (ie an older model) for fairly cheap. I’d pick chest over wrist for accuracy, but I don’t have data to back that up. While rate alone is useful and probably a good place to start, the holter is basically a prolonged ecg recording, which can identify types of arrhythmia (to then direct treatment options), which a rate monitor won’t be able to do. Holter would generally be something your family doc could order. (would you have to pay for that? Or would insurance cover? I still don’t quite understand US health care)

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      • Most ‘good’ US insurance coverage makes the individual pay for the first dollars in diagnostic tests. I have to pay $1000 before insurance kicks in, which, I’ll be honest, keeps me from doing some things I should do (like getting blood work done annually). When I’m president, annual blood work will be compulsory/

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  3. Don’t stop writing about this. If it is on your mind, let it out. It is up to the reader to read it or not, but I’m in. You know me – I am a total geek about my heart rate. I watch that bad boy like a hawk. I rest in the fifties as well. Right now I am resting at 52. And I have had the same physical feelings when I was running to the point I felt “I don’t feel right, I need to slow down.” At 45 (44?) I am allowed a bit higher heart rate, but runs just haven’t felt well, no matter how slow I go, and there should be no reason. I’m walking during my runs and I have NEVER had to do that (I’m still trying to determine if that is pure physical or a lot mental too). I’d be surprised if COVID got me, though, I quarantined like a pro. I haven’t gone anywhere, haven’t done anything suspicous. I’m going to get one of those monitors. I have one on my Garmin (which is working again) but I’d like to test it’s validity against another device. I should get checked as well. I’ve spent my share of time on Dr. Google trying to figure this out and coming up short as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We’ll have to see if I write more about it. I’m talking with the doctor who fixed Laurie’s hip problem a couple of years ago. He’s an athlete and while not a cardiovascular specialist, he spends all of his time trying to figure out how to keep aging athletes running and riding. Heart rate monitoring is going to happen. After a conversation with him tonight, I’ll probably be ordering something tomorrow. Based on my readings, the wrist monitors are somewhat accurate compared to the chest monitors. Probably accurate enough.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I do hope you keep us posted, I’d like to know how you’re doing! Postural Tachychardia Syndrome? Haha jk (that was me, for anyone else reading comments.) Or maybe it is a bit of anxiety? Do you have any kind of fitness watch or other heart rate tracker? I know they aren’t always 100% accurate but it helped my buddy in conversations with his doctor, where he could show them the history of elevated heart rate (although he was having attacks where it would go above 200bpm, he thought he was dying!) But if it’s elevated all the time then maybe a simple ECG would give them some answers. Anyway, I know it’s frustrating to have to go through different diagnostic tests and not know what is wrong. Hang in there and take care of yourself. You’re a very fit person, I’m sure everything is going to be okay.

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    • Probably not Postural Tachychardia Syndrome. At 57, I’m definitely post menopausal. I plan on getting a heart rate tracker. Regardless of what’s going on with dizziness, I’m convinced that I need to keep an eye on my exertion level. I’m sure my runs will improve dramatically if I can keep myself out of the red zone.

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  5. I’ve seen several formulas used to determine maximum heart rate by age. I don’t know which formula was used to derive the chart above. I wonder if it’s one of the formulas used for beginners?

    I use the formula suggested for well-trained runners/cyclists: 205 minus one-half your age. For me at 68, my max is 171. My target heart rate zone is 120 beats per minute (70% of max) to 145 (85% of max).

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    • Huh, that tells a really different story. The one I used was consistent across three websites. See, possibly my heart rate is fine, but *something* is wrong. I’m talking with a local doc tomorrow who is the go-to guy for all issues related to running and cycling. Hoping for some ideas. Thanks for weighing in.

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  6. I’ve been worried about you, Jeff. I can hear the anxiety in your voice and feel it on the page. I hope you get some sort of resolution on your heart rate soon. You aren’t alone. We are all just trying to survive the current madness.

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