The day started out cool, but the temperature rose throughout the afternoon. We had run laps in gym class and then I went to class woefully overdressed for the weather. As I sat down in the desk the three minute warning bell sounded.
A friend saw another friend and me deep in conversation in the grocery store parking lot, she thought it would be funny to drive up behind us and blow her horn to get our attention.
The guy from the mail room saw me in my cube, intensely studying and errant database for a missing formula. He dropped a fifty pound box behind my chair to see if I'd jump.
I stopped at the top of the ramp to yeild to oncoming traffic. The woman in the car behind me didn't see me stop and hit the back of my car hard. I began shaking violently. Talking with the police at the scene I was still shaking for the adrenalin.
I was in the parking lot walking to the store. Suddenly the car beside me blared it's horn as it's owner unlocked the door with a key bob.
Church is quite, all but the preacher's voice. The woman beside me forgot to turn off her cell phone. It suddenly began to blare a popular song.
I woke up that morning feeling ill. My head was pounding and I was sure I was getting a migraine, but I went to work anyway. The traffic light Turned green and instantly the car behind me blew his horn in impatience. As I drove along the winding road the sun was blinking behind the trees and I become disoriented.
All of these are descriptions of the times when a startle has caused me to faint. They are the everyday hazards of living with long QT syndrome. My most frequent triggers for torsades de pointes tend to be heat, illness and startle. I can control some things. I turn my phone off when I'm sleeping and have an alarm clock that wakes me up slowly. I avoid medications and try to stay hydrated when I'm going to be hot or sick. I take my medications. But still, there are just so many situations that I have no control of.
LQTS is invisible. It is only diagnosed with ECG testing and genetic testing. Even after someone dies of it there are no observable characteristics. My friends didn't know not to startle me until after the fact. The person locking their car or blowing their horn can't tell that it could scare me to death...literally. These are just everyday things that people do. But they can be very bad for me.
My friend asked me how I deal with it. Really, I don't walk through life thinking about it. I don't even think about it when I'm lying down to go to sleep. For the most part I just accept it and move on. But when I've been startled and my heart is beating wildly and my head is spinning, it gets scary.
Long QT syndrome is a genetic condition characterized by a prolonged resting phase of the heart. This lengthy resting phase predisposes the individual to ventricular tachyarrhythmias, which can be manifested by syncope (fainting) and sudden cardiac death.