Another false alarm - this time, my gut doesn't lie!

A few weeks ago, I blogged about a series of false alarms I had experienced - one with some fatigue, another with my website - both of which resolved themselves fairly quickly. I had another one to add to the list, but I didn't want to mention it until the resolution was confirmed. So here's the latest (and hopefully last) false alarm for the season!

First - let me ask you - where's the easiest place for you to take your pulse? Your wrist? Perhaps your neck? Those work for me, too - but the absolute easiest, i.e. strongest pulse point for me is in my stomach. That's right - I can actually press two fingers lightly into my stomach right above my belly button, and presto! I feel the strongest heartbeat you can imagine. It's my aorta, of course, and I've been able to feel my pulse there for years. Even as a kid I could do it. Of course, my body structure has evolved over time - having made room for two bambinos, subsequent weight gain and weight loss - but that easily-accessible heartbeat hasn't budged. In fact, that pulse point's only gotten stronger since giving birth to Bernadette. And at one of my last appointments, I decided to ask about it. 

And ask, I did. My rheumatologist did a physical exam, and found the heartbeat to be quite strong - much stronger than he expected. So much so, that he thought something was amiss. He confirmed that it's irregular for the aorta to be that close to the surface of the stomach - and suspected an enlargement - indicating an aneurysm. Not exactly what you want to hear, right? 

He ordered an ultrasound, of course...but I still wasn't too worried. After all, this wasn't something new. But knowing my unpredictable body as well as I do, I decided not to write it off completely until the results of the test were in. 

But I didn't panic. Although I was 90% sure my aorta was fine, I figured if there was something wrong - better to figure it out now, rather than let that aneurysm do unnecessary damage. I admit that it helped to have the sonographer hint that she'd tested for this kind of thing in people built like me before, most often with negative (meaning good) results. But I still give myself a pat on the back for remaining cool, calm and collected. A honed skill from years of waiting for test results past, I'm sure.  But her hint was a nice tide-me-over until I got the word from my doctor directly - no aneurysm in sight - just an inordinately close-to-the-surface aorta. Good for pulses, bad for knife fights, I suppose. I'll be sure to make a note. 

So that's that. Another false alarm under my belt - and just another opportunity to learn not to panic!


Emily said…
Sara, I have a really strong pulse in my abdomen too!!
I had a similar experience and went to my GP about it. He told me it can be prominent is smaller women.
Sara Gorman said…
I'll happily settle into the "smaller women" category, too. :)

Thanks for sharing - good to know that it's not so uncommon.
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