Lub-dub Lub-dub

So there’s been radio silence because I thought the afib genie had returned to mess up my heart rhythm and I ended up trying to get somebody to give me an EKG so I could make sure. Most times, I know for certain but once in awhile, it can be hard to discern the neurotic set of palpitations from cardiac anarchy. Neither is terribly dangerous, but if it’s afib, you have to act within 24-48 hours or suffer through a month of turning your blood into weak tea. So I wanted to know quickly whether I was hitting on all cylinders. I went to my medical group’s urgent care facility last night but they were going to send me to the hospital, where I surely would have spent the night going through lots of fuss. So I called a new doctor I was planning to switch to and he was no nonsense: I went to his hospital this morning and if they found I was in afib, he would have plugged me into the wallsocket there and then. Turns out, I didn’t have afib; I was merely neurotic. And that’s good, if embarrassing, news.

But it all made me wish that I could give myself an EKG at home. And I went through Google and, lo and behold, there is such a device: $349 and you USB the data up. There are versions of this that track you all day long and the companies that do it charge thousands of dollars. But here is the Hospital 2.0 version. I wondered whether there was an open-source version. Sure enough: Here’s a homebrew EKG from Scientific American for $60. I can’t wait for the MAKE version with a car battery and tin can.

  • Stress is under appreciated as a reason for heart arrhythmia problems. When I was working full time on stressful projects I suffered from many such problems in addition to fatigue and impatience.

    Now that I’m retired these symptom have gone away, but it took a couple of years for them all to disappear. I also avoid as much as possible putting myself in situations where the stress level would go up, such as trying to make appointments which are hard to reach on time.

    I suggest a close examination of what you are doing. Teaching, attending meetings and conferences, working on start up projects and writing columns to a deadline all at once is probably too much. You should prioritize and discard those activities which have the worst stress to reward ratio. You’ll feel better for it.

  • Esteban

    I wanted to second Robert’s advice. Consider doing a quick inventory of activities and cutting a few things loose. I don’t know everything that goes on in Jarvis-world, but I do know a hell of a lot simply by virtue of being an audience member. And having chosen blogs as a medium, your need and desire to blog “in the moment” could be incredibly stressful. Is it?

    Also, in recent years I held a high visibility, even higher stress job. And before I left it for a less stressful and infinitely more enjoyable gig, deep breathing exercizes, about which I was incredibly and obnoxiously skeptical, saved me. Yes, saved me. Deep breathing, guided by a tape.

    Finally, a little riff drawing on a suspicion I have had for a while. It might merit no more than a laugh. Or not.

    I am not a biological determinist. I am eclectic and draw from social, ecnomic, biological, cultural, spiritual (my God, even veterinary) evidence to understand any phenomena.

    But I am fascinated by evolutionary psychology and what it has to say about how many of the coping mechanisms we use to deal with stress and get through the day have developed over the long haul as evolutionary adaptations.

    The question I wonder about (and to which I don’t know the answer) is whether our coping mechanisms and our ability to handle stress have adequately evolved to allow us to maneuver with impunity in this new “real time” world. I am talking about Jarvis-world, in which the speed of the responses and writing and production required — a 24 hours news world, a blog world, — might be more than we can handle.

    Eventually we will evolve in this direction, but for now it would be no crime to admit that you have some limits and that you will respect those admittedly annoying limits solely for the purpose of longevity and quality of life and the joy of being called “Dad.”

  • Should you want to become more reflective than reflexive, your readers would be quite all right with it, you know. Of course, if you want to turn over the mantle …

  • Still scary Jeff – Reminds me of my last few years in banking – I suspect that some good advice is being offered above
    Best wishes