Tuesday, February 7, 2012

If It Ain't One Thing, It's Another

I have always known my heart rate was too fast.  Whenever I hooked myself up to one of those drug store blood pressure machines, it always told me my heart was beating too fast.  I got one of those watch heart monitors for workouts years ago, and it was not uncommon for my resting heart rate to be over 100.  Seventy-two is normal.  It shoots up to 180 when I'm on the elliptical like it's nothing.  So I knew something was up, but I never got it checked out.  Whenever I had physicals, they always told me my heart rate was normal on that day, and I never raised the alarm. 

Starting some time last Fall though, I began to get nervous.  I was having pretty regular palpitations.  Sometimes it felt like my heart was racing for no reason.  Or that it was skipping a beat, even when I was being still.  I chalked it up to all the travel.  The stress of the last year.  The fact that I'd gained some weight.  But I was scared enough to talk to my parents and make an appointment with my dad's cardiologist while I was with them in Dallas for Thanksgiving. 

They hooked me up to all the monitors and stuck those electrodes everywhere.  Put me on the treadmill.  Do you know you can't wear a sports bra while you're doing that?  No one wins if my heart is fine but I take my own eye out, is all I'm saying.  The technician said my heart was healthy.  Everything looked fine.  No arrhythmia, a steady beat.  Except that my heart rate was very fast.

The doctor came in after looking everything over and started asking questions.  He took my resting heart rate and then he asked me to stand up.  He took my heart rate again.  Just standing up made it spike like crazy.  Then he diagnosed me with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). 

Basically, it means that when you change position, like going from sitting to standing, you experience an abnormally large increase in heart rate.  My body, apparently, struggles to maintain homeostasis while I try to navigate myself through the day.  For some people, it's very debilitating.  They can't do anything without becoming dizzy or without their heart rate increasing so much that they can barely function.  Luckily, I've never been anywhere near that bad, and have no reason to expect to be. 

The doctor told me it's actually more of a kidney problem than a heart problem.  My kidneys don't hold on to potassium and salt and all those good things your body needs like they should.  My kidneys were very dehydrated as a result.  When one organ isn't working like it should, the others, especially the heart, have to work harder to keep everything in balance, and it has to work even harder to keep everything going where it's supposed to when I get up, stand up, and whatnot.  Water doesn't help.  I used to guzzle water, but would just feel bloated and sluggish.  Water doesn't replenish salt and potassium; it just makes you go to the bathroom.  And every time I did, my kidneys gave up more stuff they needed and I wasn't putting enough back.  So I need to be drinking Gatorade or Propel or something that will put back some of that good stuff, and not just flush it out.

There are about 4 different medications I was told I could try, but I wasn't put on any of them, which I very much appreciate.  We think I can treat it by hydrating properly and by being aware that stress and caffeine (motherfucker) make it worse.  My heart is fine, my kidneys are fine - no permanent damage done.  Just something to be aware of. 

I'm relieved that I know what's wrong and that I can fix it without anything major or scary.  I was really scared for a bit there.

So now here's the problem. 
Don't even get me started on my plastic bottle guilt.
Gatorade.  I've been drinking 2-3 bottles a day.  Gatorade has a shit ton of calories in it, so I buy the low calorie kind.  I swap calories for sucralose.  I know nothing definitive has been proven, but pumping your body with that much artificial sweetener can't be good.  It scares me.  I'm going to have to be drinking this stuff for the rest of my life most likely.  I really want to find a low calorie, all-natural option that has a similar potassium and sodium content.  And if it doesn't cost $5/bottle, that would be even better.

Any ideas?  So far, the only one that seems like it might do is SoBe Lean Machine Lifewater.  It's 0 calories and sweetened with stevia and erythritol, which are both natural.  It's also like $20 for a 12 pack.  Yikes.  Are there really no low-calorie all-natural fitness drinks that are affordable?  That can't be right.  Your help, please.

Lastly, if you think something is wrong, trust your instincts and don't be stupid like me.  Go get it checked out.  Go.  Now, preferably.  I'll hold your hand.


SG said...

Yikes! I'm glad you're ok. If I may, there is another way of getting more sodium...may I suggest McDonalds? Its always worked for me. Good luck love!

LWhits said...

Gatorade powder is tons cheaper and you can cut it with as much water as you want which is basically what the low-cal gatorades do. No bottles, less expensive = win! Any sports or running store would have it.

Kelsey said...

Hey Christina! First of all, I'm sorry to hear that you have yet another thing to deal with right now, but I'm glad it's not as serious as some cases can be... yikes. I just wanted to pass along a recipe for all natural "gatorade" on the Wellness Mama blog: http://wellnessmama.com/2575/natural-sports-drink-alternatives-recipe/ If you're willing to make it yourself you might prefer this version to the store bought stuff. Also, I've heard that coconut water is actually higher in potassium than gatorade, so maybe that might work for you? Good luck, hope this recipe works for you!

Christina said...

Thank you! I'm going to look into all of these. (Except for yours, Sara.)

SG said...

Fine, be that way, I see where I stand...