No, this isn’t a post about love or relationships. My life is slightly more complicated than that right now.
On Friday afternoon, I received a phone call from CardioNet, the company providing the heart monitor I was to wear for two weeks. A nice lady asked me if it had arrived yet. I said it hadn’t, but I had received a UPS notification that it was out for delivery. She said they had provided enough supplies to last for the entire prescription, so I shouldn’t need to buy anything, but to call them if I needed more supplies for some reason or had any questions. I thought it was nice of them to call.
About 45 minutes later, the cats alerted me to the fact that the UPS man was here! (They growl and run away to hide when they hear the truck pull up.) I actually received two packages. One was the salt tablets I had ordered from Amazon, since I quickly realized that trying to consume 5 g of sodium in my diet was going to be impossible for me. The other package was indeed my CardioNet monitor, which I have named Sherlock.
They are not kidding with this thing! That’s a pretty solid little tackle box right there. Opening it up, I came across the following:
Underneath the 38-page patient education guide, which I did read and found very simple and easy to understand, were the devices themselves:
Left to right: the sensor with lead wires attached (only three leads this time, yay!), the monitor that receives data from the sensor and then transmits it to CardioNet (who then sends it daily to my cardiologist), and the charging device for the monitor. They recommend charging it daily to make sure it has enough juice. I just charge it at night while I’m sleeping, since the monitor doesn’t have to be physically on my person, just relatively close.
Underneath the quick start instructions on the lid were the supplies, which speak for themselves:
They recommend changing the battery in the sensor daily and changing the electrodes every other day, rotating the sites to prevent skin irritation.
I decided to shower before hooking myself up, so my skin would be nice and clean. Afterwards, I followed the instructions exactly:
- Put the sensor around your neck.
- Attach the leads to the electrodes.
- Attach the electrodes to your skin (white on right, black on left, red on left rib.)
- Wait 15 minutes for electrodes to fully adhere to skin.
- Insert battery into sensor.
- Turn on monitor and follow instructions to ensure transmission is occurring.
It was transmitting fine, but I immediately got an error alert that the black wire was disconnected. Uh, no it wasn’t. So I tried pushing it down harder. I tried disconnecting and reconnecting the lead to the electrode. I tried taping the electrode down to my skin. I replaced the electrode twice. After messing around with it for about half an hour, it became clear that nothing I did was going to work. The blasted thing was giving me an alert every couple seconds, then would be fine for maybe literally two seconds, then would alert again, and so on. It was most irritating.
So I called customer service. They put my name in a queue to be called back by the next available representative, so I wouldn’t have to sit on hold. I received the call back about 20 minutes later. A really nice man helped me out. He asked me the usual starting questions: did I put lotion on my skin (no), did I use the adhesive remover (no). Then he told me to dig out a secret pack of electrodes they put in every kit. It took me a minute to find them. These electrodes were a little bigger, more like the ones I’ve had on in the hospital. He stayed on the phone with me while I replaced the electrodes and hooked myself back up. BINGO!!! They worked! But since they only supplied two packets of these better electrodes, he put in an order to ship me more to last the two weeks of my monitoring. Unfortunately, they won’t arrive until Tuesday or Wednesday, so I can’t change these electrodes every other day yet since I don’t have enough. It doesn’t matter, my skin will be irritated regardless. (I still have visible outlines of the electrodes from my Holter monitor from two weeks ago.) But at least I can shower with them on, I just need to disconnect from the sensor and monitor first (obviously.) Anyhow, excellent customer service from CardioNet! So whoever the gentleman I spoke to who called me from Minneapolis was, thank you very much, sir!?
So I’m a few days in now. I guess you could say I’m used to Sherlock hanging around. I’ve been wearing my sweater hoodie so I have a pocket to put the monitor in so I don’t have to remember to pick it up and carry it everywhere with me around the house. Sleeping is challenging though. The neck strap for the sensor isn’t long enough, as it was on the Holter monitor, for me to be able to place the sensor next to me on the bed. And even if I removed the sensor from around my neck, the lead wires aren’t long enough for me to be able to set the sensor to the side either. So if I want to roll onto my side or stomach, I have to physically move the sensor into a comfortable spot underneath my shirt. So I haven’t been sleeping well since Friday night.
I’ve recorded multiple events on the monitor, which is really easy to do, since it’s a touchscreen. Lots of lightheadedness, dizziness, and occasional shortness of breath. Hopefully this longer monitoring period provides some more clues (hence, naming the monitor Sherlock ?) as to what’s going on. So the hunt for the cause of my dysautonomia continues.
Am I feeling better? Not particularly. But that’s for another post.