It wasn’t even that much work. I am sure that my husband does more every hour of his full time job, and he is able to keep going, despite the fact that he is quite a bit older than I am. I am pretty sure that what I was lifting – both in the container and on the shovel – was less than 5 lbs each time. Yet still it caused me problems.
When I have had my heart checked at the doctors, and even with the ECG, they have said my heart was good. Nothing wrong. Yet I know it flutters at times. I can feel it. I can feel it skipping, and fluttering, and it feels like how they would describe a murmur. Only it doesn’t happen regularly, and it hasn’t happened in the 5-10 minutes that I have been in an appointment.
I am not quite sure what sets it off. It can happen when I am working, but then again, it is just as likely to happen when I am lying on the couch, watching Netflix. It flutters. It murmurs. And I wonder what it means.
Today, it was not a murmur that I felt. I had only moved a few (tiny) bins – the shallow type they use for dishes in cafeterias – of leaf mulch. Damp, okay, but not heavy. The day was slightly overcast, and while warm, it was not hot. Yet still, with just 3-4 bins of mulch that I might have carried 50 feet (if that) across the yard, my heart was burning in my chest.
Not only was it burning, but my head started spinning, I could hardly see, I was coughing quite bad (like my dog does now – and he has a heart murmur according to the vet) and I very nearly fainted. For just about 15 minutes of work, and going slow at that, I needed to take another 10 minute break just so I could stand up. After that, I went for about another 10 minutes – much slower that time, before having to stop for the day.
Twenty-five minutes of light to moderate labour, with a ten minute break in between, and when I came inside, my face was bright red, my heart was racing, and I felt like I would faint. I am pretty sure that if I hadn’t sat down, I would have.
This isn’t the first time that happened. Every time I walk with my son along the nature trail, and come up the steep hill at the end, I feel like my heart is going to explode within my chest. It is highly painful, makes it really hard to breathe, and every time (though we were doing it five days a week until the heat hit this week) I worried that I wouldn’t make it home.
It is hard to explain how, when I look healthy, and come across as healthy at the doctor’s exams, that I can’t keep going as most other people I know do. As the people I visit most with are about twenty years older than me, and work about as hard as my husband, I always feel like I am being judged when I try to explain how difficult these things are for me.
I walk, or ride my bike, or do a little bit of yard work, and my chest hurts so much I fear I will not survive – and these are the times when I am not so anxious. Afterwards, when my heart has calmed down, the exhaustion sets in, and will frequently last for days.
Though I am younger than some who do so much more, and I seem healthy, and even my blood tests and such say I am healthy, I still cannot keep up. I have never been able to. But when I try to explain this – even to my husband – I feel like, at the very least, people do not understand it. I feel like they believe I am lying, or lazy, or…. but I know that I am not.