Heart Beats in Time

Back in Uncomfortably Numb I mention my heart was constantly racing and I was dealing with runs of palpitations. I willed it not to be a cardiac problem because I didn’t have the time or emotional bandwidth to deal with it. I convinced myself it was the anxiety flipping switches in the my electrocardio system. I believed once I moved, got settled, got my unemployment paying my bills while I looked for a job everything would settle down back to normal. It didn’t. I’m able to track my heartrate thanks to this cool device called an Oura Ring. I learned about it when I was doing home exams and was told a big research hospital (either Johns Hopkins or Mayo, can’t remember) and the military were using it to predict COVID symptoms days before they were visible. It also tracks sleeping patterns, tells you how hard you should work out depending if you recovered enough from the day before based on your body temperature, restfulness, and heart rate through the night. It also tracks activity, not steps. Steps might be better because when I do a marathon stretch of crocheting it says I’ve walked 5 miles….without leaving my chair.

When I first got the ring my resting heart rate when I slept was in the 45-50 range. When I did my EKG training we had to give one another EKGs and my strips actually were marked as bradycardic (a slow heart rate under 60 bpm) but just barely. I bought it in March 2021 and wore it for about 5 months then it disappeared. I put it on it’s charger, went to the bathroom and when I came back it was gone. I cleaned out my room looking for it and didn’t find it. When I was moving at the end of this May it had miraculously found its way into a caddy I kept under my bed; a caddy I searched twice. Paranoia has provided a list of suspects and reasons, but I won’t go into that now. I charged the ring and when I first uploaded the nights report I was astounded to find my lowest heart rate was in the upper 80’s. Sometimes it would dip to a low to mid 60’s bpm but it still was hanging out in the 80’s. This was the week I was unpacking, so I wasn’t too worried. But it became a constant. I would take my pulse during the day for a whole minute and I would get the same numbers, plus I could feel the premature atrial contractions (PACs) which make up the palpitations. I figured I just needed to settle into my life more and find a job, so I tried not to worry about it.

Once I got the job my heart rate did decrease down to the low to mid 80’s. Still double when my consistent heart rate was when I first got the ring. All through the LabCorp training my heart rate was consistent with my pre-employment rate. I wasn’t having the palpitations as often as I did before but I was still having them when I sat still and cleared my distractions. I started working at my site. And then I got paid. And then my resting heart rate went back down into the low 50s. I’m still feeling the anxiety because I’m worried I’m going to fail, but that’s a normative state for me and I’m still having problems making ends meet right now because I’ve only had one paycheck and several months of bills but my sister C has been helping me (Thankfully!). Having the consistency of a job, of a schedule, of an income seems to the the balm my anxious heart needs to settle down into a normal rhythm.

This is something I’m going to need to keep in mind when I finally do make the big move. I need to have more money in the bank and a job in place so I won’t have to deal with my heart racing three paces ahead of me for months on end until I finally catch up to it.