When My Heart Is Faint

I look to the Lord.

"Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy." (Psalm 61:1-3, ESV) In my current situation, my "enemy" just happens to be my own body.

My literal heart is faint. As many of you know, the Lord has allowed, in accordance with His good and perfect will, for my body to suffer many things these past 10 years. Now with five surgeries within five years (I didn't write about my kidney stone surgery and stent last year...I just didn't feel like it, sorry), I have another issue that requires extensive medical attention. I have a heart arrhythmia.

I have what's called premature ventricular contractions (PVCs). I've actually had them for the past five years, with about one year where they completely went away. They started up again this past year, but similar to when they started, they were benign, as most PVCs are. But because God has blessed me with extremely wise and kind doctors, my cardiologist did a full workup (stress echo, blood work and 24-hour Holter monitor). All tests looked good and the 24-hour Holter monitor only showed 13 PVCs occurring in one day. I didn't have any symptoms either. They were just annoying.

About four weeks ago my PVCs began behaving a bit differently. Rather than come and go, they came and stayed. They came all day, every day with increased frequency from every other heart beat (bigeminy) to every three heart beats (trigeminy). I began to have symptoms (which I never had before): lightheadedness, breathlessness, and near fainting. My blood pressure began to drop, especially with exercise and my resting pulse danced around the high 50s and low 60s.

By God's providence my yearly physical with my PCP was scheduled a week after these constant PVCs began and she ran an EKG. It didn't look good, so she sent it to my cardiologist who saw me in his office the next day. They agreed I needed to start a beta-blocker (Metoprolol XL succinate). We tried it for a week, but it wasn't working, and my blood pressure (96/57) and pulse rates (fluctuated from the mid 30s to high 50s) were too low. So they told me to stop taking the Metoprolol and come in to get hooked up to a 24-hour Holter monitor so they could compare it to last year's.

Did I have a pity party in the midst of all this? Yes, I most certainly did. Did I get a bit depressed, a little angry and exacerbated that these PVCs couldn't just be like all the other ones I've had for the past five years? Yes I did. Did I overstay my welcome at my pity party? By the grace of God, no, I didn't.

Those of us who've been given a new life in Christ have the freedom to choose—to look at ourselves or to look at the Almighty.

"I waited patiently for the LORD; He inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD."
~Psalm 40:1-3 (ESV)

I'm so very grateful the Lord lifted me out of the miry bog of self pity because yesterday, I wound up in the Cardiac ED and was kindly treated there for four hours. The Cardiac ED is quite nice and they take you in and begin treating you immediately rather than spending most of your time in the waiting room. I was hooked up right away to an EKG, had blood work and a chest x-ray done along with an IV put in place so they could slowly give me three doses of Metoprolol to get my PVCs under control.

The doctor at the Cardiac ED contacted my cardiologist's office and discovered that my 24-hour Holter monitor showed that I was having 24,386 PVCs in one day. Anything that's above 20,000 per day is too much. So as usual, it seems I have to be the overachiever (wink). They switched me from two Metoprolol succinate (24-hour extended release tablets) to two to three Metoprolol tartrate (12-hour tablets), hoping this will help reduce the amount of PVCs I'm having to decrease heart damage.

My wonderful nurse Andrea from my cardiologist's office has taken fantastic care of me with the other doctors in the practice since my cardiologist is out of the country for a couple of more weeks. The next steps are to get an echo (echocardiogram) to make sure my heart hasn't weakened, and a visit with an electrophysiologist (a cardiologist that specializes in the electrical functioning of the heart that causes arrhythmias).

Why am I sharing all this? I'm sharing this for two primary reasons:
  1. To encourage all saints to fix our eyes and hearts on Jesus and suffer well because all our trials here on earth are as temporary as our lives; though it may not always feel that way (2 Cor 4:16-18);
  2. To encourage others who have PVCs, that they're mostly benign, like mine have been for the past five years.  And rarely do they require medical treatment. The things that can trigger or worsen PVCs are: hormones, lack of sleep, anxiety, caffeine, thyroid issues and electrolyte imbalances. So most of the things that cause PVCs can be treated by simply changing to a more healthy lifestyle as well as, for a Christian, trusting God rather than insisting your doctors have all the answers...because as smart as they are, they don't know everything...only God does.
The trials we face in this life, whether they be emotional trials, physical trials or spiritual trials, they all have the same effect—they make our heart faint. And when our hearts faint, figuratively (like mine is often) or literally (like mine is presently), the remedy is the same—cry out to the LORD, seek the Rock that is higher and greater than you and anyone else, dwell in the refuge of God''s love rather than dwell on the troubles your enemies cause you; the greatest of which, is in ourselves.

If you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, not by empty profession, but by a true concession to His good and perfect will, then you know there is no trial we suffer here on earth that is greater than the great salvation and life we have in Christ; now and forevermore.

If you don't know Jesus, click the following link to be introduced to Him: Know Christ.

"What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD, I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all His people.

"Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come Home with shouts of joy, bringing His sheaves with him."
~Psalm 116:12-14, 126:5-6 (ESV)
May all who know the Lord Jesus, return to Him with a harvest of righteousness, sown by His love, in our hearts, extended to others (2 Cor 5:20, James 3:18).