Bradycardia… just another word I didn’t know 18 months ago. It didn’t take long to learn its meaning. I suspect I learned it shortly after hearing “tachycardia”. In their simplest forms, cardia means heart rate. Brady means low, where tachi means high. So, bradycardia is medical speak for low heart rate. It becomes scary when you hear the doctors exclaim “He’s starting to brady!”. Yep, been there more than I care to remember.Anyhow, after getting Ryan to bed and giving him a bath, his heart rate was hovering just above 50 beats per minute. Not too unusual for him when totally at rest. We have the monitor set to alarm when he drops below 50. He does. But, it’s dipping occasionally to 49. It will alarm and go silent quickly since his rate goes up.
Then, it alarms and stays alarming. His pulse starts sliding below 45. Sue and I both have our cell phones in hand. 9-1-1 is already punched in so I just need to hit the send button if he drops below 40. He’s at 42! Entirely too low!
I step outside my body and enter the logical/detached realm as I’m mentally preparing to administer CPR. I do a quick scan of the room to make sure the oxygen mask and-ambu bag (used to give breaths) are at hand. Check.
After an hour or so of anxiety that we’ve learned to accept, we see Ryan do what he always does… bounce back. His pulse starts a painfully slow, steady ascent. Just after midnight it is around 60.
Ryan will live another day.