On 28 Oct 2015 I started having lots of heart palpitations and my pulse rate was over 120 a third of the time, when I checked my blood pressure on my Omron blood pressure monitor, which had me quite concerned.

When I saw Dr AAA, the heart specialist I’d been seeing for over 6 years, and who had kept saying everything was fine during these 6 years, on 10 Oct 2015, he simply said, with no real explanations, “Off you go and get a pacemaker,” and referred me to another doctor, Dr BBB, to have one put in, who was just awful. As it turned out, the symptoms that had been concerning me only lasted 17 days and I was back to normal three days before I saw Dr BBB, and this, together with how badly he came over, led me to decide not to go ahead with a pacemaker at that stage. But the symptoms returned on 21 January 2016 and I’ve had them up until the last few days - about which more later.

Having had a recent disastrous experience in which I was rushed into treatment which was completely unsuitable, I decided to seek other opinions before committing myself to having a pacemaker fitted. I had detailed consultations with cardiologist Dr CCC, on 1 Dec 2015, the 3 Feb and the 27 Feb 2016 and his advice was that if I wasn’t experiencing chest pains, shortness of breath, light headedness, dizziness etc etc, which I wasn’t, a pacemaker would be a bit premature. And this advice was confirmed by another cardiologist I consulted, Dr DDD. (Dr AAA didn’t even ask me if I was experiencing any of these symptoms!!!)

In an attempt to try and clear up some of my confusion, and also because the percentage of times when my pulse rate was above 130 seemed to be increasing, I decided to check myself into the emergency department of the Westmead government hospital. Although I didn’t expect to learn too much from it, I thought that, at least, it would be a learning experience.

So I did this on the night of Thursday, 5 May 2016 - I only expected to be in it for a couple of hours, but, as it turned out, I was there from about 10.00 pm until about 3.00 in the afternoon on the next day. And although there were problems, it turned out to be an extremely worthwhile thing to do.

(I had an extremely uncomfortable night, I was cold because the hospital didn’t have enough blankets, and it didn’t have a pillow for me, (just a rolled up towel, which wasn’t like a pillow at all,) or one of the medications I should have been taking - I felt like they should have had a sign outsides saying, “If you come to this hospital you’ll need to bring your own blankets, your own pillow and your own medications.” And one of the nurses was incredibly bad.)

But, I was able to ask 4 different doctors lots of questions, from which I learnt lots of things at no cost - two incredibly important.

(1) I was told that what I was experiencing was to do with the electricals of my heart, something totally separate to whether I might have a conventional heart attack - which, of course, I’d been very worried about.

(2) I was made aware for the first time, by two of the doctors, that there were OTHER medications available to help with the symptoms I had, other than Sotalol, which I had been taking for more than 3 years on the recommendation of Dr AAA, (why Dr AAA and Dr CCC never mentioned this we’ll never know,) and, from the moment I was put on a Digoxin drip in the hospital, and prescribed a Digoxin tablet a day, (which, incidentally, cost 2.6 cents each, so less than 20 cents a week,) when I left, it’s been like a miracle - at least for the time being I’m virtually back to how I was before 28 Oct 2015. In the 17 days since I left the hospital my pulse rate has been above 130 on only two occasions, and that’s with me checking it 5 times a day - and only above 79 on two other occasions. And although I’m having some palpitations, as indicated by my Omron monitor, I’m having a lot less, and the doctors in the hospital didn’t seem to think they were too concerning anyway when I was having more

So, from 10 Nov 2015 until the 5 May 2016 - virtually 6 months - for me to get what clearly appears to be the best treatment for my symptoms, 6 months in which the two treatments suggested to me in 5 or 6 consultations with cardiologists - a pacemaker and Sotalol - appear to have been dead wrong! It has been virtually 6 months of stress, anxiety and perhaps danger.

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Created: 23 May 2016