Friday, February 12, 2010

A visit with the cardiologist

I didn't really want to have to get out in this snowy mess this morning, but I had a 10AM appointment with my cardiologist (Dr. Robert Park, with the Denton Heart Group in Denton, Texas... the nicest and coolest cardiologist I've met since my BFF's spectacular cardio dude, Dr. Matthew Flemming in Des Moines) to explain my labs and my stress echo test, and if I rescheduled, it would have to wait until APRIL. April, people! Good grief!

So I pulled on a couple of turtlenecks, a hoodie, longjohns and sweatpants, two pairs of thick socks, and knee-high rubber boots. I don't do wet socks, and I knew that all the snow in the parking lots and sidewalks would be deep and melty and sloppy. I was right. It was a MESS. Nobody down here has a snow plow, so the parking lots just stay nasty.

Once inside the doctor's office, they put me on the scales and I said, "I probably have on ten pounds of clothes. I'm not kidding." He moved the pins and sure enough, it measured 128. "It IS!" I exclaimed. He agreed that I did have an excessive amount of clothing on, and he marked me down as 118, which is what I'm tipping my home scales at these days. (I know, it's unthinkable. But it's true.)

The cardiologist told me that I did have several episodes of atrial fibrillation and a few PVCs, and a little leakage in one of my valves, but that it wasn't what he was concerned about. My iron levels, he said, were pretty much at zero.

"Would that cause syncope?" I asked him. He said absolutely, especially in the shower or when standing up quickly. You see, I fainted in the bathroom floor getting out of the shower yesterday. It occasionally happens to me. Anyway, he said that there were three main possibilities for the severe anemia problem -- menstruation, malabsorption due to my surgery, and/or gastric lesions that are leaking blood.

Yeccch!! If they're afraid I have lesions in there, they're going to want to 'scope me. And that's, like, my most favorite procedure EVAR (/sarcasm).

He said that if I had gotten to this extreme low iron level more quickly, I'd probably be incapacitated, but that since it's been a gradual decline, I'm still able to function.

Anyway, he punted the iron deficiency issues to my bariatric surgeon and my primary care physician... and said that if, after my iron levels are stabilized, I'm still having the fibrillation issues, I can come back and we'd start looking at medication to fix it.

Next step is a visit with the surgeon, who will probably prescribe an iron supplement that I can absorb properly.

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