Listen to your stress and burnout because it might kill you.
I’m a software engineer (programmer, developer, computer scientist — all labels) and in the past month of December I was admitted on the hospital for AFib a heart condition that, without treatment, can lead to blood clot, stroke and heart failure. The problem is that I’m too young to have that so why did this happen to me? Well, the answer is quite simple: Stress + burnout + pre-genetic condition but read the story below, it will be worth it.
The Thursday before that Monday that I was admitted to the hospital I was already feeling sick. Came Friday I was exhausted and with a bad mood that would be unrecognizable from my family and friends. Saturday I had the company holiday party and couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t wrong. Days passed and on the Monday my neck was burning in pain (something that I came to learn that is related to high blood pressure), I couldn’t breathe right, heart was fluttering and I couldn’t hardly keep focus. After talking to my co-workers I went to see a doctor to see if I was having another episode of asthma and she, with the calm of someone that was ready to drop a bomb, told me to go to the hospital right away because I was having a case of AFib.
That is scary and your first reaction is basically a “wait what” type of response and you don’t really know what to do. You add a shock to the exhaustion that you are already feeling and it becomes slightly overwhelming.
Took me a day to leave the hospital that was spent in bed being poked every now and then and being monitored for that whole time. My heartbeat was at 150 for hours, peaking at times at 170, and my resting heartbeat was over 100. Yes it was not a good thing.
After a few weeks I had set an appointment with a Cardiologist to find out what it was happening to me and his message was good and optimistic and at the same time somewhat grim.
My AFib was caused by pre-genetic condition and stress was one of the triggers if not the main one. After about a hour talking to him and planing the next steps it was more than clear to me that I needed a change in my lifestyle.
I’m a developer. I love to code. I love coffee and the challenges and I deal well with going more than extra mile but unfortunately my body does not agree with me anymore. That came as not as a surprise but as a shock. It is one of those situations that you know it can happen but also never expects to happen to you. Well you can always expect a raining day right!?
After this episode in December I have decided to take a healthier life path by cutting down on the coffee, exercising more and eating healthy. A piece of advice for anyone that, like me, is slowing killing himself without knowing: slow down and use your time appropriately.
It requires being admitted to a hospital to make me realize that I have more in life than work and that yes I should be focusing on my family and myself more. I have always been a critic of bad planning but I’m sure that this wouldn’t happen to me if I did plan correctly. I did too much for the past year and this year I will slow down.
If you are feeling stressed, burned out or exhausted, please slow down or stop and take some time off because very likely that will take you into a hospital and, if you are lucky enough like me, you might come out of it.
If you are curious about if you are having an AFib, get an Apple Watch, it will tell you right away but if you don’t have one, then, be aware of this:
- heart fluttering
- hard to breathe
- neck pain
- hard to focus
Add stress and burnout to that and you are a walking bomb. By all means, regardless what is happening to you, if you don’t feel well, find a Doctor.
Life likes to throw some curve balls at times and when I thought that this was done, after the 1st one, I couldn’t be more wrong. A month or so after writing this article I had again another AFib attack. This time more prepared and with the instructions of the cardiologist I took medication in time to control it. About a month or so after, another attack and finally, the 4 one, came in the month of July.
This last attack was critical. I haven’t been drinking for 6 months and I have diminished my coffee intake from 4 cups daily to 1. That day in specific the only thing I did was go out for a biking for 5 miles. This attack hurt me so bad that I had to be driven to the cardiologist office in the morning after spending a night fighting 150/170 heartbeat frequency after taken medication.
In the month of August I did an Abalation Surgery to control the AFib. Doing that is already scary enough, imagine doing that during COVID times. The procedure was a success and I’m feeling fine every since.
It is just unfortunate that it took me going to the hospital and having to go through surgery to realize that my time is worth a lot more than I believed. It took me long enough to know that my time is a finite resource.
I know that all that happened to me might not happen to you, but spend your time wisely and take care of your health. These are some resources that you only have 1 of each because there is only 1 of you.