Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dilated Cardiomyopathy

So I'm sitting on my bed feeling a little unwell (A little, which is actually quite good) looking at a giant blown up T-Rex which belongs to Baby B, and I realize all his teeth are covered in toothpaste (T-Rex's, not Baby B's). Obviously when I gave the twins their toothbrushes this morning and asked them to bursh their teeth, they took it to mean to brush the dinosaurs teeth. Which is fine, oral hygiene is important. Anyway.

I thought it's time I did another profile on another one of my medical conditions. I think sometimes people don't want to ask, or feel uncomfortable asking, what it is I have. So far I have talked about on of my diagnoses in this post. This is number two. There'll be about five or so in all.

OK, so onto Dilated Cardiomyopathy. This is the condition I was diagnosed with 18 months after the twins were born. I'd been feeling extremely unwell since their birth. I was swollen, was short of breath. I couldn't sleep lying flat because it made me feel as though I was drowning. My heart rate was constantly rapid and irregular. I had lost all my pregnancy weight once I got home from hospital, and proceeded to gain it all back over the next few months, even though I was following a healthy diet and exercise.

The doctors told me it was because I had gained back that weight. It was also suggested I was depressed, and had very little idea of what it actually involved to have twins and therefore my expectations of myself were too high leading to anxiety. It didn't matter that I explained my heart rate was always fast, and got so fast when exercising that I felt as though I would pass out.

So I stopped going to my doctor. I sat at home struggling to do basic things for my children, feeling like a failure as a mother, as a person. I started to think I was crazy, and began to push myself to do all the things I wanted to, despite feeling so unwell.

It was ultimately this which led to my diagnosis. I was doing Tae Bo one morning, and my heart rate went into the 190's. It didn't go back down again. By this point I had serious trust issues with my doctor, and so left it until the next day to make an appointment. At this point, my heart rate had come down. I now had a resting heart rate of 160bpm. Normal is 60-80bpm.

To make a long story short, I was sent to a cardiologist whom conducted an echo and it was discovered I had Dilated Cardiomyopathy. I was also in heart failure.

"Dilated cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the heart becomes weakened and
enlarged, and cannot pump blood efficiently. The decreased heart function
can affect the lungs, liver, and other body systems."

So that also explained the abnormal liver function tests I'd been having.

The function of the heart is looked at by estimating the EF, or Ejection Fraction. A normal healthy person has an EF around 55-75%. My Cardiologist felt in someone my age a normal EF would be 65%. My Ejection Fraction was 30%. My heart was enlarged and I had fluid accumulated in my lungs.

I was put on a very powerful combination of drugs and was able to come home.

This post has turned into more of a personal story then the informative encyclopedia post I intended! I might leave it at this for now and tell part two of this story later.

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