I ♥️ South Dakota

I’ve been traveling East for the past week and a half, and now I’m in Ohio, 2 days from the end goal of New Hampshire. For the most part, it’s been great health-wise, with even the eating and sleeping not too bad. Sitting for hours at a time ain’t good, but it is what it is. Nice thing: the slow time change means that you don’t really have to to deal with jet lag — especially when you’re on vacation!

One major thing did come up in the middle of nowhere South Dakota (over 20 miles from the nearest anything): I thought I was having a heart attack.

I was driving the Explorer, while my wife was driving the RV, and I pulled over on the side of I-90. I laid down while she hunted for some aspirin for me to chew, and I looked up the nearest hospital. Chamberlain, SD, 22 miles away. OK. My Apple Watch said my heart rate was about 160, a bit of numbness in my arms, feeling faint, nausea, and a splitting headache. We made a decision to get to the medical center, so off we went at perhaps a bit higher than the already-high speed limit. And yeah, the kids were freaking out.

I got admitted quickly too the emergency room, and they hooked up an EKG on me, too blood, etc., and eventually saw a doc. By then I was feeling better — not 100%, but better. Heart rate and blood pressure were down to only somewhat elevated levels. After a lot of waiting for the labs to come back, result: I didn’t have a heart attack.

The doc is fairly certain that what I suffered from was supraventricular tachycardia, where the heart gets some bad electrical inputs and just starts to freak out. The rapid heart rate causes symptoms a LOT like a heart attack, and this type of false positive is common (which made me feel a bit better about not being a hypochondriac!). If I were local, she’d make me wear some harness to monitor my heart for a full day, as this is a fairly non-threatening issue, unless you have heart defects, which I don’t think I have, but you never know. It might have been triggered by too much caffeine, as I did have more than my usual amount to help keep focus on the long drive. Other things that could trigger it is not enough sleep, stress, or too much exercise.

Anyway, so I’ve cut down my coffee consumption and, while I was already prioritizing sleep, I’ll double down on that. When I get to NH and find a primary care doc, there will be other follow ups for sure. So… drama, but with a fairly good ending. I felt kind of silly at first with going into the emergency room for a false emergency, but what I told my kids was this: if you have a heart attack, and you’re in a hospital, your chance of living is very high. Modern medical tech and procedures are amazing with keeping people alive once they’re surrounded by it. On the side of the interstate in an RV, though, you’re playing with dice. Turns out I didn’t throw a 7 that day, but heck, I didn’t know. And now if it does happen again, I know to not freak out and just do the exercises to encourage it to pass (some weird vagus nerve stuff).

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