Tech Fail: I Sing The Body Electric

  • Tuesday / August 5, 2014

Tech Fail: I Sing The Body Electric
what the hell was THAT!

Update: 08.08.2014 – Cardiologist Visit

It started several weeks ago. I’m minding my own business in the gym. I’m doing my hour long workout, when all of a sudden a woman’s voice comes through my headset saying, “Warning! Your heart rate is now 180 bmp.” A few moments later, “Warning! Your heart rate is now 240 bmp.” WTF!!!! Okay, maybe some backstory is appropriate now.

A few months ago, I was feeling like shit for an extended period of time. The biggest issue was lethargy. To be this tired for this long needed some investigation. I went to the Visiting Nurses Service in Asbury to see my primary, Pat Garduno. Having looked at some recent blood tests she saw borderline low thyroid levels. Normally this would not be alarming, but I was showing some (but not all) of the classic symptoms of Hypothyroidism. She started treating me for the disease. This meant I would need to take the drug Synthroid, possibly for the rest of my life. Not something I wanted to do. Me and drugs … for the rest of my life … not going to happen — not if I can help it! Before I started taking the drug I needed to be sure it wasn’t my Sarcoid becoming active or possibly allergies — it was early Spring & the pollen counts were through the roof! I wrote about all that in my blog post “Take A Deep Breath … Again“.

Scosche RHYTHM HRMFast forward to about a month ago — let’s say May. I wear a Scosche Bluetooth RHYTHM heart rate monitor (HRM) in the gym almost every workout. It’s a great way for “Dr Data” to see how long I’ve worked out, record tons of data, and control the intensity of the workout. I also use the Digifit iCardio app.

Most workouts start with five minutes of jumping with my weighted rope, or a rowing machine for warmup. Then a series of warmup exercises for the muscle group I’m working on. Then I start my weight workout. During my weight workout I like to keep my heart rate up as much as possible through the whole workout. So if I’m not doing supersets with limited rest periods, I’m jumping rope in-between weight sets. Normally I keep my heart rate between 135-160 bpm. It’s a trick a trainer taught me a long time ago. This way I don’t have to do cardio at the end of my workout. No too shabby for a man of fifty-seven!

07.19.14 Workout Graph With Spikes
07.19.14 Workout Zones With Spikes
07.19.14 Workout Data

The images above are data from one day when my HRM went a little nuts. Though not the only day it occured, it’s indicative of several other days as well. As can be seen, there are periods of time when my bpm was well above 220 bpm. It not only peaked, it stayed there for some time before — suposedly — coming back to my normal workout range. According to image #2 I was in the “blood red” danger zone for 25% of my workout. If that were true, I’d have been lying on the floor trying to catch my breath and or clutching my chest. Non of which occured on any date.

08.01.14 - Normal Workout Heart Rate Graph
08.01.14 Time In Zones - Normal Workout
08.01.14 - Normal Workout Overview

The images above are from my new replacement HRM from Scosche. As can be seen, my full workout range is in my normal workout range. This makes me very happy! If this data is accurate, it’s now taking more effort to push my heart into the 162+ range — which means my aerobic ability is increasing. Woo hoo!

Meanwhile — back at the ranch. I’m feeling like crap, feeling constantly tired, and now my HRM is telling me I’m having arbitrary heart rate spikes as I’m working out? Okay! Faulty ticker or faulty HRM? Sadly I needed to get them both checked out — or one of them replaced; hopefully not my heart.

I emailed Scosche & returned the defective HRM. I also talked about the spikes with my PCP. She said, “Joe … time we sent you to a cardiologist. Just to be safe. And if nothing else, you’re at an age where it’s good to get a baseline of current heart function.” And so I did.


Me and my oh so fashionable heart halter.Did an initial visit with Dr Pinnelas at Shore Heart Group a few weeks ago. Went for an echo cardiogram yesterday, and they also sent me home wearing a “heart monitor halter” to monitor my heart for 24 hours. I’m also supposed to go for a “nuclear” stress test. Bring it on!

With my family history, it’s probably not a bad idea to get a baseline. My dad (at 62) & my paternal grandfather (at 72) both died of massive heart attacks. So there is that in the back of my mind as well.

But most of all, I’m doing it for me and my own piece of mind. As with my Sarcoid and my crazy medical past, it’s just another challenge to deal with and overcome — hopefully.

For the man who likes the facts along with his constant stream of data — it’s the way I work best. Deal in the concrete, try to remain in the now, and try not to project. If I wake up today, I have energy, and I can work out — it’s a DAMN GOOD day! I take care of what’s put in front of me to the best of my ability, and the universe will take care of the rest — hopefully.

Don’t know what the outcome will be. Of course I’m hoping it was just a faulty HRM and not a faulty ticker. I have a feeling it’s the former and not the later — especially since I’ve used the new HRM for a week now with no spikes.

In the mean time I will “sing the body electric” and hope I have the current and curency to carry on for years to come. As I know more, so will you. As for now … carry on! :)

Update: 08.08.2014 – Cardiologist Visit

Got a call this morning from Dr Pinnelas’ office asking if I could come in today. They had the results of my echocardiogram and my 24-hour heart monitoring results. When a doctor’s office calls you before a scheduled appointment, which is still a week away, and asks if you want to come in TODAY … it can be just a little unnerving — to say the least! So I said …. YES!

Long story short, though there is some “thickening” of one of the major arteries to the heart, Dr P says with as healthy as you are, your cholesterol, and weight in check, “I see nothing to be concerned about”. Woo-fucking-hoo! My 24-hour heart monitoring results were well within normal ranges. I will still be getting the nuclear stress test, but have to wait until my insurance authorizes it. Dr P says, it really is more for a baseline, and because I have Sarcoid, he just wants to do it to be sure my heart is okay under stress and doesn’t spike like my DEFECTIVE HRM. I’m all for it! Information is my friend!

Oh … and the new Scosche HRM I received a week ago and have been using since … no spiking. As a matter of fact, I’m now having dificulty getting my heart rate above 160 bpm! Which means my aerobic conditioning is increasing! Love it!

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Joe Streno

Joe Streno

artist . musician . photographer . retired apple computer consultant . residing on planet earth with his two cats rudie, & rocco & living to tell tales about it

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