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What is That Flutter Thing?

2 Feb

My flesh and my heart may fail,
 but God is the Strength of my heart
 and my Portion forever.
Psalm 73:26


“Beautiful” was the first comment from the ultrasound technician yesterday morning as she looked at the image on the screen in front of her.  This one word, simple as it was, sort of gave me a small sense of peace.  My reactive response of ‘Aww’ generated an explanation from the one in charge as she informed me that “beautiful” was her way of saying that the image on the screen was clear and was in full view – not that we had an immediate diagnosis and that all was great.  So, the nerves kicked in again as I laid on my left side with cold ultrasound goo oozing beneath the magic wand that somehow transferred an image of my heart onto the monitor.  Diane told me that since I am so tiny and there is not much open space inside of me (I guess that’s a compliment), that my lungs kept getting in the way of viewing my heart, so I had to exhale and hold my breath for what seemed to be a very long time.  And I had to do this several times throughout the photo shoot, praying each time that my lungs had shrunk enough for her to capture the view of my heart that she needed.  I’m not sure if the office interior decorator planned the placement of a particular picture on the wall just so, but it was perfectly situated for me so that I could see my heart on the monitor in the reflection of the glass.  It was really fascinating as I could feel the beat of my heart beneath the pressure of the magic wand, in perfect rhythm of the indirect view I had of the pulsation and movement of this vital organ that was busy keeping me alive. 

A moment of pure honesty and transparency here … it seems that ever since we have moved back to Pennsylvania, there has been a deeper sense of awe in my soul toward the brevity of life.  Having lost my father nearly 18 years ago, experiencing the premature birth of my first grandchild, Tim being diagnosed with coronary artery disease and having 2 stents,  …  and just the realization that I am no longer a young woman with little kids tagging behind me.  I work in an office where people come and go – some are stooped over with the brokenness of body, others are led in on a son or daughter’s arm, barely able to walk, but all finding it necessary to seek financial guidance and direction from our attorneys who specialize in elder care.  It seems that with each passing day, I am more and more aware that this life is temporary and is only the pathway that will lead me Home.  So, I got a bit mushy inside as I laid there looking at my own heart beating, realizing the frailty of it all.

I’ve been relatively healthy all of my life, with an occasional incident requiring intervention, but nothing major or life changing.  So, when I began experiencing a strange flutter sensation in my chest a few months ago, I took notice.  The initial doctor’s visit before Christmas started the process of blood work, EKGs, 24 hour heart monitor and a follow-up appointment with a cardiologist.  Everything thus far had checked out ok, but the specialist recommended I have a stress echocardiogram to completely rule out any problems with the heart.  So that’s where I was at 7:00 yesterday morning.  The initial EKGs and heart ultrasounds were all a picnic compared to the “stroll” I had to take on the treadmill, followed by an immediate set of ultrasounds on the heart, done in the first 90 seconds … all the while I’m huffing and puffing and trying desperately to catch my breath.  But remember I’m tiny.  My lungs were in the way.  I had to once again exhale and hold my breath several times.  All I could do was pray and ask Jesus to help me not breathe while everything in me was screaming for air.  Finally the essential photo shoot was over.  With goo dripping down my side and my heart beginning to calm down, tears filled my eyes as I thought of my mother going through that traumatic experience a few years ago.  Or even my husband in Albuquerque when he had to go on his treadmill jog with pain in his chest and extremely high blood pressure.  Sigh …    Within moments, the doctor on duty came in and gave me the good report that all is well with my heart.  Praise the Lord!!

So then, what is that flutter thing?  I have felt it at times in my upper chest, but most of the time, the sensation is in the soft spot of my throat.  It comes and goes ~ some days I feel it all day long, and others I notice it from time to time.  There are even moments when I feel like it sort of makes me catch my breath, and I need to cough to release it so I can clear my air passage.  I have found no rhyme or reason as to what triggers this flutter … time of day or night, my body position, food or no food.  It does seem, however, that stress and caffeine eccelerate the flutter to a degree, but they do not cause it.  Instructions for the test yesterday morning required that I did not consume any caffeine (coffee, chocolate, tea, …) in the 24 hours before the appointment, which I heeded, but noticed that the flutters still came and went despite the absence of chocolate and Cherry Coke.  And because I now can, I am sipping a cup of Starbucks Pike’s Place coffee, freshly made at home…with vanilla creamer and some Splenda ~ and a homemade almond/chocolate chip biscotti to dunk in it!  Yum!   Getting back to the flutter!!  Both doctors who have seen me for the flutter have mentioned that if it’s not my heart, then it could possibly be menopause.  Well, the cardiologist tried to be tactful by saying that it all could be a sign of maturity.  Seriously?  I chuckle right now as I am feeling this odd sensation of maturity.  I don’t know what to think.  It’s not painful, just annoying and distracting.  At least now I know that it is not a heart issue.  Maybe a hinge on the flapper in my esophagus has corroded and doesn’t close properly any longer?  Not sure, but I do hope that someone will be able to give me an answer to this flutter question. 

We all have questions that need answered, don’t we?  If it’s not a physical concern, maybe it’s financial or relational.  Whatever the case may be, we seek doctors, lawyers, counselors, pastors, family, and friends for help.  And we are ever so grateful for these people in our lives who can help answer life’s questions.  I’m also eternally indebted to the One who created me and Who knows the very number of red corpuscles that my heart pumps throughout my body.  He is my Physician, my Lawyer, my Counselor, my Pastor, my Family, and my Friend.  He is Jesus.  Won’t you join me in taking our questions to the One with the answers? 

I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
Psalm 16:7


The LORD is my Strength and my Shield;
my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy
and I will give thanks to Him in song.
Psalm 28:7


Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life.
Proverbs 4:23


Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Psalm 139:23


Until next time,

For those of you who have been praying for our daughter, she received a wonderful report from her obstetrician last week … her cervix measured the same, but remains stable, so he lifted the restrictions of light duty and encouraged her to return to normal activity ~ whatever that is at 6 1/2 months pregnant.  Thank you for praying, and thank you Jesus!!


 A note to all of my ‘mature’ lady friends … have any of you experienced this unusual phenomenon?  Perhaps it’s really not that unusual and many of you know exactly what it is … please tell me!   The flutter seems to have the doctors stumped, but I’m sure someone, somewhere out there knows the answer.  Leave your comments below … please and thank you!!


For my friends who subscribe to Morsels of Mercy and automatically get a copy sent to your email, check out the blog on my website to see additional photos of my family

**  Blog photo of my Valentine’s Day decor  –  February 2012