Thursday, January 5, 2012

Not Quite Average

It's interesting how things change around us when we don't seem to have changed ourselves.  For years, every doctor I've ever seen has commented that I must be pretty active--which I generally have been--because all my life I've had what they referred to as a "runner's heart."  I don't know if the term is still used, but it just meant that my heart rate is slower than normal.  It always has been.

Thanks to the recent fun with my back and either my age or seeing a doctor who didn't have my medical history or a change in medical practices, this is now a "potential problem" that I could be referred to a cardiologist for.  I suppose I can't really blame him--if you faint in the ER you're probably going to be tested for everything--but as the cardiologist could only do something ghastly like give me a pacemaker that would rev my heart up faster than it generally EVER goes and I would probably feel like I was about to explode, I refused.  They already checked to make sure I didn't have a heart murmur, but were quite concerned that I had been fainting.  I was a bit concerned myself as I'd never done it before and just waking up in a different place than you were a second ago is a shock for anyone, but my slow heartbeat and I made it to the age of 41 without passing out EVER, so I'm not too worried.  My sister, who has a normal heart rate, faints all over the place and once even managed to fall forward out of the ophthalmologist's chair during an appointment.  As I'm not taking any medications that I'm unaware of, nor do I have a heart murmur, I'm not terribly worried about the heart rate thing myself, but I am a bit worried about the medical community in the future.  Now that they can't just chalk it up to "normal for a young healthy person," am I going to spend the rest of my life being hooked up to EKG machines every time I need to see a doctor?  Am I going to be stalked by cardiologists wanting to give me a pacemaker?  Is this all happening because I'm over 40, or have we so homogenized healthcare in America that "normal" can now only be what is average and not "normal" for a particular individual?  Geez, and I hated seeing doctors BEFORE all of this.....

3 comments:

Abby said...

Oh, don't get me started! There is no money to be made from healthy people, so even if you are healthy, they need to order tests, etc. I have a physical scheduled in 2 weeks - haven't had one in about 12 years - with a new doctor. Ordinarily, I advoid doctors, but upon approaching 60, thought I should have a general assessment plus I want to ask about some aches and pains. I would like to find a partner in *health* and not be "managed" by the so-called health care system.

LoriU said...

I too have a low heart rate, so does my Dad. Do either of your parents?

When I was in the hospital a few of years ago, after a surgery, they had the monitor set to whatever the 'normal' is and every time I'd fall asleep my heart rate would drop (which is normal) below the setting on the machine, and the alarm bells would go off and wake me up. I finally got annoyed enough to come out of the morphine induced haze to tell the nurse she might want to change the setting. She said, 'I can't do that without talking to a doctor.' and I replied 'You might want to pick up the phone or we're going to have a long night.' Thankfully she did, and changed it!

RobinH said...

Huh, how low is low? I've always had low heart rate (resting pulse of 58) and low blood pressure (and never gotten more than a double-take at the Red Cross blood drive), but I have a friend whose resting heart rate is 40, and he gets questions a lot. He's actually afraid that if he ever wound up unconscious in an ER, they'd try to 'fix' it, with bad results since it's normal for him!

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