Cardiologist!

I had my appointment at the cardiologist today. My PVCs (premature ventricular contractions) have been really frequent and two weeks ago I had a panic attack at the shopping centre. My dad was with me and had no idea what the hell to do, so he called an ambulance. Monitoring again at the hospital showed a high frequency of PVCs but nothing else unusual. I was advised to go through with the cardiologist appointment and get an echocardiogram just to rule out anything dangerous. PVCs are usually no problem unless the person has a structural heart abnormality. I have been beyond stressed. Not exercising (too scared), and not putting everything into my study for my seminar this Friday (too distracted). I have to get my anxiety under control and I have started seeing a CBT therapist who coincidentally was a lecturer in exercise physiology which brings me to the diagnosis from the cardiologist.

About a year ago I started running again. Six months later I started to feel generalised anxiety sneaking back into my life. I thought I was done with that. How could I be the fittest, healthiest and most fulfilled in my life, but having MORE anxiety. It didn’t make sense. This coincided with a fluttery feeling in my throat which it turns out is my heart – my biggest fear. Well, it was.

The echocardiogram showed that I have a normal heart. The ECGs have shown my heart rhythm is normal. I don’t have cardiomyopathy. What I do have is a system that is sensitive to adrenaline and cortisol. When these hormones are elevated in my system, it causes another fibre to send a signal to my ventricles to beat. Usually, the signal comes through the sinus node at the top right of the heart, but PVCs are caused by the trigger coming from a different place. The ‘skipped beat’ that people say they feel is actually just the upper chambers pausing to catch up to the lower chambers which have beat early due to a false signal. It sounds so scary. But it is totally ok. Unless you have cardiomyopathy or structural heart damage, which I don’t. And PVCs don’t cause these either.
The cardiologist emphasised that EVERYONE, that is, EVERYONE, will have some of these in a 24 hour period. Unfortunately some unlucky people simply feel them and/or and have more than other people. And guess who those people are? According to Dr. Sharpe, they are people who are smaller, people who drink a lot of caffeine or take other stimulants, people who are overworked, overtired, and those of a certain, ahem, Type A personality. He stressed this last part. I asked why I get these if I don’t feel under pressure or stressed. There is no one reason. Physiology. Some people’s bodies can enter a state of high adrenaline and cortisol without the person realising it. Especially if you are a person usually prone to high anxiety. And yes, exercise increases adrenaline and cortisol and PVCs are very common in very fit people. So bugger off people who think exercise should always be an endorphin-inducing positive lifestyle habit 😀

So, the good news is I have BENIGN PVCs. The bad news is I will always have them, and they will be especially noticeable if I keep running. But I should not stop running as they are not dangerous. If I want to stop feeling them, I could try a certain beta-blocker as this stops the adrenaline receptors from firing and will reduce or eliminate the PVCs; but the only reason to take them is for comfort and not any medical reason. So I will see how I go without them.

I’m planning to try a slow 5k tomorrow morning. I haven’t been getting up as early as usual as I’ve lost a lot of motivation (and weight and fitness). My CBT guy told me if I get the all clear from the cardiologist I need to start training for a marathon and make sure this doesn’t get me down. I’m not going to train for a marathon – couldn’t think of anything worse! – but I am going to keep running and get my fitness back. And it would be a good idea to cut back on a bit of chocolate, haha. I told him that would have to wait till after Easter

First, I’ve got to get through my confirmation seminar on Friday without looking like a total fool!

QLD Health lost my thongs!

This is going to be long. I’m sitting in the GCUH having just been diagnosed today with an ectopic heartbeat. And they’ve lost my thongs (flip-flops), so if I calm down enough from the anxiety to get out of here, I’ll be walking to my car barefoot through the grotty hospital and Uni campus. Before I go into this further I’ll give a rundown of the past year? Is that how long it’s been since I’ve blogged? Well, with no wi-fi here and not being in a head state to study, I’ll write this.

Kids
Haru starts big school in two weeks. He’s ready. He’s in annoying little boy stage. I’m sad about this next step, though.
Haru also had a diagnosis of Tourette’s which he’s expected to outgrow.
Riyo is very intelligent, conniving, a bit of a sociopath, amazing linguistically and completely toilet trained at 2yrs 4 months. But she’s demanding and a horrid sleeper.

Work
Busy, but good. I’ve managed to keep getting consistent work in a very competitive industry so I guess that’s good.

Study
I don’t have enough time. I have my confirmation presentation in three weeks. I’ve nearly finished my document but haven’t started arranging the power point. I’m sure I will ‘pass’ but maybe I don’t want to – that relates to the hospital visit which I’ll come to later.

Running
I started running again early last year and I’ve improved my fitness immensely. I was a sprinter back in the day but I started doing 5k runs, then faster 5k runs, then 10k runs, then 15k…..and that’s about my limit. My time for a 5k now is 23mns 17 seconds which isn’t bad for my age. I don’t think I’ll do longer distances. I could physically manage a slow half-marathon but I find longer distances mentally tough. I mean, downright boring! I exercise for a few reasons – weight management (but I do need to quit chocolate), and overall fitness and health, but I have one problem. Exercise increases my anxiety levels. Doctors don’t believe me. I don’t exercise excessively and I never push my body too hard, but there is something about the physical sensations of exercise that mimic panic attacks.

Lately life is an ongoing juggle with time as always and I do have a little stress in my life. But I love what I do and I hate being bored. A possible downside? Although *I* may enjoy being always on the go, it seems my body doesn’t. I’m in hospital.

A few weeks ago I started getting a tickle in my throat. I had an ECG at the doctor. All good. It got worse – another ECG – all ok.
Then my mum was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation – a kind of irregular heart rhythm. My underlying anxiety went into full panic mode when I found out this could be genetic. My flutters got worse. I went to the GP and was given a holter monitor to wear for 24 hours. It was taken off on Tuesday and I had to wait a few days for results. On Wednesday night my anxiety was through the roof. Fluttering heart, full blown panic attack. I hardly had any sleep and was a zombie at work. I went to the GP after work and broke down. She prescribed some valium. It seemed to calm me and that night I had far fewer flutters and was ok. This morning I had to go and get my results. It turned out I had a few instances of premature or ectopic heartbeats (0.1% of all my heartbeats). While on the monitor I had felt most of these and recorded them but there weren’t that many anyway. It was a clinically insignificant result but I was still worried. I went home and sat down to do some study which I really needed to get done today. The flutters came on fast and strong and I couldn’t handle it. I went to the ER. They monitored me and found a fairly high frequency of ectopic beats. They’ve been coming in waves and I can feel them very clearly – sometimes many in one minute. The doctors are certain my heart is structurally healthy and this is nothing to worry about. Most people will have them but I have a few more than usual. They keep telling me they aren’t bad or life threatening. I believe them. I understand this. But the strong physical symptoms are distressing and overwhelming for someone who has always battled with health anxiety. It might be ok but it’s not NORMAL for me. It is very odd, sudden, and uncomfortable. It is so obvious and so frequent that I can’t focus on anything else.
I’ve been given another valium which I didn’t really want but it has eased the beats slightly. Which indicates that stress and anxiety is playing a part. I’m writing this in hospital to try and distract myself. I’m so, so worried.

People have been telling me for a while that I’m doing too much, but I don’t think so. I have a full life – part-time work, part-time study, parenting my kids who I adore, a husband who helps me have some time for my own interests. I love it. But maybe my body can’t handle it? If something has to go, it would be study. But then I would have the stress of not being in a better position to provide more opportunities for my kids. And I’d have failed at something I know I can do well.

I’m going to get some counselling (CBT) next week, arranged by my GP. I’ll go down the medication route as an absolute last resort. I’d rather need SSRIs than beta-blockers!

Sitting here writing this, distracted, I’m not feeling as many beats. Gosh, I hope it’s all an anxiety thing. I’ve overcome that in the past so I can do it again. Since I’m a hypochondriac from way back, I’m not sure how I’d deal with an actual sickness.

I hope they find my Havaianas……..

Made up words

I love seeing the language progression in my kids. Haru has been saying some funny stuff lately. He’s not good with reflexive pronouns, so when he talked about his sister, he would use “himself, or sheself”. He gave up trying to work out which was correct (neither, but anyway…..) so now he comes out with the following as an example: “Look, mummy, Riyo can put her shoes on shimself”. It’s “shimself” for everything she does!
He also made up another word because the action doesn’t have a verb, so he made one. The word is “mook” – pronounced like the end of “book” or “look”. It means to make someone look by physically turning their head. If he wants you to look at something but you don’t, he will “mook your face that way!”
As for Riyo, she is still so cheeky. She can definitely say some words but is very selective about when she speaks. She’s been imitating a lot of sounds recently. She is still way behind in speech, though absolutely not in comprehension. She’s nearly competent at using stairs, up and down, but can’t even say ‘milk’, her favourite thing in the world!

Good luck, bad luck

What a crazy up and down cycle I’m having. Following on from my last post about all the bad luck, two nights ago the crown on my front tooth fell off. I’ve always had a huge gap between my front teeth and had it crowned when I was about 15. It fell out when I was eating a rice ball in Japan in 2004 and I had it done again here in Australia by the same dentist. Ten years later it fell off again. I have the crown intact so I’m wondering if a dentist will just glue that one back on or I have to get a new one. Either way it will cost a heap and in the meantime I’m speaking and smiling as little as possible because I have an ugly gap in my teeth.
Then last night, I was cleaning the lens of my favourite glasses and the frame snapped! I was doing it softly but that is irrelevant given the latest happenings.
I did get some good news. I was worried about money after the holiday and these expenses but I was called in to work the past two days, so I still have something coming in. Also, in another two weeks I will be doing the really intense course this semester at Uni for nearly three months. I’m working three days – Monday, Wednesday, Friday and it is a LOT of work. But it’s good money, too. It’s a nightmare for childcare and for anyone who tries to talk to me for the duration of the course 😀
Not sure I’m going to have any time for study and I’m really in two minds about study. I’m going around in circles with part of my research and it’s making me frustrated with my topic leading to less motivation………is it worth it?
Anyway, despite all the bad luck (yes, I know I really don’t have it too bad), at least life isn’t dull…..

How was your holiday?

Everyone keeps asking me this and I just say, yeah, it was good. And it was – it just wasn’t great. Some things were absolutely wonderful but overall I’ve had a bit of a streak of bad luck – just little things adding up.

There was the lost/stolen wallet as I wrote about previously. It never turned up.

Then I picked up a stomach bug of some sort in my second week in Japan. I was still feeling off yesterday so went to the doctor and blood tests confirmed nothing serious and a high likelihood of it being stress-related.

On the second last day, Riyo got a bad cough and kept coughing till she vomited – once all over the chairs and floor at a sushi restaurant.

When we got to Narita Airport, the airline said Shingo didn’t have a valid visa for Australia. They ended up calling immigration in Australia who said it was fine. When we got to Australia they said his visa had expired. Long sorry short – he is still a permanent resident and he did have a returning resident visa, but due to misinformation, mistakes, and general scumbaginess of immigration, they changed the expiry date and didn’t tell us. Their reason was just “we can do that”. I’m not allowed to get back the money – I paid for a five year visa but he was given one – and have to pay another $350 to renew it. I’m not fighting it – it’s really not worth it.

The plane trip was hell. I didn’t sleep a wink, it was bumpy, and Riyo slept a total of three hours and was being that child others are furious they got seated near.

Anyway, we got home safely and got through immigration and the shuttle bus pulled up at our house. This was what was waiting for us.2014/04/20140407-185031.jpg”>20140407-185031.jpg
Someone in a big truck had reversed into our fence and done a runner. There were witnesses but none could get a clear reading of the number plate. So we have to put in an insurance claim. I’m beyond disgusted at the pieces of filthy trash who do this kind of thing.

Haru had an appointment today with the specialist who is going to teach him some relaxation techniques for his issues. The first appointment was three weeks ago with just me and at the time they made the next appointment for Haru and I for today at 10:30am. I have the card this was written on.
This was how today was supposed to go:
7am – go to doctor and get blood test results
8:30 – kids swimming lessons
10:30 – Haru’s appointment
12:00 – home for lunch
Afternoon – QLD transport, Medicare, and bank to get new cards that were in my wallet.

In reality:
7am – went to doctor but results weren’t back. Doctor said he’d call later.
8:30 – swimming lessons
10:30 – went to Haru’s specialist. They had no booking for us. Admin had overlooked the email from the specialist to put in our appointment. They only had information to email me sometime to make a other appointment which three weeks later they hadn’t done anyway. I was so angry. It was a long drive and they were completely unprofessional. They had an opening at 2pm today otherwise I had to wait a month. So I had to take the 2pm. The next few hours was racing to QLD transport, Medicare and the bank. Kids were tired, hungry, and over it.
We made it back to the 2pm appointment and the feedback from the doctor was as follows: he’s a very focused boy (a good thing when teaching relaxation apparently), I’ve never met a kid who’s not the least bit interested in animals (really?), he’s got great attention to detail (he’s Japanese), he certainly likes modeling adult behaviour (I wish he liked watching Peppa Pig instead of hanging out the washing)……..other things……
And a reiteration of points from our first meeting – parents seem quite perfectionist (wrong), parents are very busy (yes, but if when we are with the kids we are devoted to them – and we are with them a lot).
Despite a bit of this predictable nonsense, I quite like the doctor. That’s why I continued going there even though the admin staff are twits (and either chew your gum with your mouth closed or spit it out! Geez!)

The doctor called. I’m very healthy. Good news is my nausea isn’t caused by anything serious. Bad news is they don’t know why I feel sick and I just have to give it a few days to see if it gets better.

Well, wasn’t that a fun read? Anyone? Hello? >

Lost or stolen?

My wallet is gone! When we transferred at Tokyo station on the way back from Niigata, we stopped at a bento shop in the station to buy dinner. I asked my mother-in-law if she wanted some money and she said no but I *think* I had my wallet in my hand when I asked her. I’m really not sure though. I was inside the very crowded bento shop with Haru while MIL chose and paid for our bentos.
About ten minutes later I went to the convenience store to get some water and when I got to the checkout I couldn’t find my wallet.
I raced out and told Shingo and I went back to the bento shop but nobody had handed it in. We went to the information centre and they gave us a number to call.
As soon as I got home I moved all my money to the account that is not linked to any cards and I called the bank and cancelled my card. Luckily, Shingo had brought his card for that account so I could put some in when we wanted to make a withdrawal.
The next day I went to the local police station and they took all of the details and uploaded them into the “National missing wallets database” or something. If it turns up, Shingo’s parents will be contacted. I’ve called the station every day and out of the many wallets they find each day, nine have been mine. The policemen thought like Shingo and said it’s very likely it was stolen. A foreign person in a busy station in rush hour distracted with kids is a very easy target. And I didn’t really make it difficult I suppose, putting a bright turquoise wallet on the top of an open handbag. I know I should be more careful – I learned my lesson about money in the house after we were robbed in Australia – but I just cannot believe people steal from others and it’s so beyond my thinking, it just rarely crosses my mind to consider it. Naive, I know.
Anyway, I lost about $300 in cash, and all my cards like driver’s license, Medicare, student ID etc. It’s just a massive hassle from now and I hope it’s been binned and burned after someone took the cash.

Around Chiba

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These carts make shopping with kids somewhat bearable. They are free, too. A dodgier version costs $5 an hour near my place in Australia.

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More food! Because food and eating out in Japan is the best!

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Kokomo no Kuni – “Kids Kingdom” – a big park and play area for kids. It’s quite run down now and considering it was the school holidays it wasn’t that busy for Japan. We had a fun day.

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