Columnist Amy Gietzen had many sleepless nights after going into heart failure
For some scleroderma patients, loss of sleep and fatigue are significant issues. Trying to manage a barrage of symptoms while exhausted is a tiring game of cat and mouse.
Fortunately, until recently, I had only experienced fatigue in small doses. The occasional nap or sleepless night was all that rattled my routine. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with heart failure in 2020 that I realized that sleep plays an essential role in my disease management.
A FRIGHTENING CARDIAC EVENT
It was a warm, sunny day in late June, and my dad and I had just enjoyed a fantastic lunch outdoors with my brother and sister-in-law. As we made our way home, I started to feel off. My tongue became numb and I lost feeling in my fingertips.
After walking through our front door, I saw spots and grabbed the countertop in our living room for support. The next thing I knew, my heart was racing and I felt dizzy and nauseous. An hour later, I was in the emergency room receiving intravenous fluids. It was in that small, sterile room that I was told I had ventricular tachycardia, or v-tach.
V-tach is a kind of abnormal heart rhythm in which the lower chamber of the heart beats too fast to pump enough oxygenated blood throughout the body. It can sometimes lead to cardiac arrest.
I’ve learned a lot about my body in the two decades I’ve been living with scleroderma. I’ve overcome ulcerated wounds, dozens of procedures, such as a lung biopsy, and multiple surgeries to straighten my fingers and toes. However, nothing I’d dealt with up to that point... keep reading.
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