The medical problem that wasn’t

In 1989 I lived in a small seaside community. I worked hard, and commuted long hours until I had an accident and couldn’t continue with outside employment. Shortly before I sold my home at the beach and moved to purchase a small farm in Hawkes Bay I noticed that I seemed to have a possible heart problem.

I would lie in bed before I went to sleep and feel my heart pounding so hard that it seemed to shake the entire bed. It eventually bothered me sufficiently that I asked my doctor about it. He used his stethoscope, considered, and then informed me that I had a heart murmur. I should give up the things that stressed me such as deadlines or becoming too involved and mentally fatigued with some work.

Sadly I gave up a number of activities that did stress me – in a good way or so I’d believed up until then. I completed selling my beach home, packed up and moved, and resettled six months later on the small farm I’d purchased. There I bought coloured sheep, a house cow, chickens and geese, and a piglet and settled down to a – hopefully – stress free life.

I worried now and again about my heart murmur since it had remained, but there were no other symptoms and I hoped that it wouldn’t worsen. That was the year we had a drought and very hot weather that went on and on. At summer’s height I switched to making large bottles of Raro orange drink and dropping it into the freezer for a couple of hours so that I could drink what I called ‘orange slush.’

The hot weather continued and after a few more weeks of it I was drinking nothing else but the orange slush. It was then that I noticed my heart murmur appeared to have been cured. I was delighted but a bit surprised, I didn’t think that once you had something like that it went away. Autumn arrived and with the cooler weather I went back to drinking cola again and my heart murmur was back…

Things that make you go hmmmm!

I went back to orange slush, heart murmur stopped. I returned to cola – ‘heart murmur’ back again. I made a decision, cut back on the cola to where I had a single can in the morning and now and again, but rarely, a second can in the afternoon and I’ve never had the ‘heart murmur’ return.

To me it was clear that too much caffeine was causing the problem. The question I’d like to ask, is why didn’t my GP at the time pick this up? Apart from using his stethoscope he made no tests at all, he simply pronounced that I had a heart murmur, ordered me to give up anything stressful, and left it at that. I remain puzzled at his apparent ineptitude.

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