The Beat Goes On (Update on My Heart)

Went back to the cardiologist yesterday for a check up. First time back since my procedure about six weeks ago.

To refresh your memory, a few months back, I was diagnosed with “extra beats” in my heart rhythm. The technical term is “Premature Ventricular Contraction,” or PVC. (“Like the pipe,” the doc sez)

If you want to know more, knock yourself out. On the EKG, they look like this:

The problem was that my particular rhythm can indicate blockages to the arteries, not just benign “extra beats.” So, we did the whole “heart catheter” thing, to rule that out. As I reported later, the good news was: no blockages. In fact, the doc repeated yesterday that my arteries look “as clear as the day you were born.”


But, I still have these PVCs. So, what to do about them?

Nothing, apparently. Just monitor the situation, and check-in yearly.
In 2-4 percent of patients, there is sometimes some weakening to the heart over time because of this. But the check-ins should determine whether or not this happens for me.

I am still meditating on the following, however. That some of the main causes of these more benign PVCs are things like….caffeine….chocolate…and….STRESS.

Hmmn. Stress.

So, this gets back to my blog, “Extra Beats” of a while back. I’m still meditating on what it means that I have “Extra Beats” in life. I’m still musing on the question, “What am I going to do about it?”

The good news? The depression over getting older –the feeling of being “sickly”– has passed. Man, did I feel old and decrepit for some weeks after this. There is something about being the “identified sick person” that really is a real thing. As a pastor, this is something I’ve known for a long time. But it’s quite a different thing to experience it…to be that “sick” guy.

Luckily that has mostly passed. The longer days help. The awesomely HOT sunlight (YES!!!), and starting back with bike rides again. Apparently, my extra beats vanish when I exercise.
(How’s that for motivation?!!)

But I can’t run from that connection that PVCs are often brought on by stress.
“Extra Beats” are more common when your life has “extra beats.”

It sounds so obvious, doesn’t it?

BTW, friends, thanks for all the smiles about this. In person, and online, many of you have said things like,
“Well, we always knew you had your own rhythm…”


But pray for me as I continue to meditate about stress and extra beats.

I’m clearly not done with this…

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He is Senior Pastor of The Woods United Methodist Church in Grand Prairie, Texas. For seventeen years, he was pastor at Northaven UMC in Dallas, Texas. Eric is an avid blogger and published author. Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy.

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