Low pulse rate and SpO2

albaker

New member
I didn’t intend on writing a dissertation, but I’ll start of by saying my SpO2 levels are typically 92-94% during the normal part of the day, and it drops under 85% at night with the pulse rate dropping down into the mid to lower 30’s during the night. This had led to daily headaches, and I’m officially spooked about the possibility of significant damage to my body. I’ve recapped what I’ve gone through the past 2 years over the next several paragraphs, but the last paragraph lists the questions I’m hoping to get answered.

Thanksgiving Day of 2016 I came down with what I'd consider the most terrible flu I've ever had. For 2 weeks I was bedridden and wanted to die. I'm not sick that often, I'd been self-employed for 14 years at the time, and I had to work on critical issues during these 2 weeks to keep afloat. Up to this time, I worked and hunted my in-law's property frequently, and it wasn't unusual to pull upwards of 2 dozen ticks off me during the weekend. I did use tick repellent for a while, but I sweat so hard that the repellent just wasn't effective.

After the two weeks were up, I felt a little better but had to return to work. Insurance sucked, so I didn't even go into my PCP during that two-week period, plus I don’t recall ever having felt the office visit sped up recovery and I hate hate hate taking prescriptions. I decided to wait this one out, but I never fully recovered and constantly felt drained. Thinking back, I remember a 3-4” round spot where I had removed a tick I’m pretty sure was the weekend before Thanksgiving, but it wasn't a bullseye and I remember thinking the bite was a simple infection.

The following August was our 25th anniversary, and we hadn't been on a real vacation since we'd been self-employed. By this time, I was suspecting something like Lymes because of the sheer number of ticks I'd pulled off, so I went to my PCP, and he prescribed a Lyme test (about 8 months after the suspected tick bite), which I believe was the western blot. It came back negative, as did Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. I was given 3 weeks of doxy at 200 mg dose 2x per day just for good measure. This dosage lasted during our trip, and I felt pretty normal for the first time in almost a year, although I tired more quickly and burnt like crazy even with sunscreen. A few days after the doxy script ran out, I started feeling terrible again, so the PCP prescribed another round of doxy. I felt great until a few days after the script ran out.

After reading that this behavior is somewhat common with antibiotics for Lymes, someone mentioned that I try nanosilver. The company I bought this from had a protocol for Lymes, and I took a heavy dosage of this for about 1.5 months, and I once again felt much better while I was taking this, but within a few days of getting off the nanosilver, I once again felt terrible. I was very disappointed, and it was so hard to work feeling like this. My wife ran across Vital Plan, which is an herbal supplement to combat Lymes specifically. I started taking the herbs starting in October of last year, and I feel pretty good, and the sensation of bugs crawling over me is now a rare occurrence.

For the past 10-15 years, I suffered from the occasion migraine, I'd say every few months, but since I suspect I've contracted Lymes, the headaches got progressively worse in intensity and more frequent. For the past 10 months or so, I started having headaches every night, and they'd typically wake me up around 2-3 a.m. every day. Sometimes, I could take Excedrin and they'd be gone within the hour, and sometimes the headaches would last 3 days or longer - the most severe one lasted 8 days. Again, I just wanted to die. I did see my PCP, and he wanted to try a medley of prescriptions – he didn’t call it this, but it consisted of 2 or 3 prescriptions he thought would help. I never bought the medication.

I did take a trip to Breckenridge this year, and I noticed that as I was drifting off to sleep my pulse rate would drop to 30 bpm, and I'd sit up gasping – I couldn’t even fall asleep before this would happen, and since then I’ve been able to notice that high elevation exacerbates the problem significantly. I had no sleep for a few days, and I had a multi-day migraine during that trip as well. A bummer for my family.

I started to wonder if the low heart rate was causing the headaches, so 2 weeks ago I purchased a pulse oximeter from Amazon and was shocked. When I'm working at my desk, my SpO2 is typically 92-94%. For grins, I let my wife wear it, and it is around 97-98% for her. I'm mid 50's, 6'5", 240 pounds, not currently in that great of shape, and I've never smoked (except for the couple of cigarettes I snuck out from my parents as a kid). I decided to start wearing the oximeter at night, and the first few nights were rough - the oximeter allows alarms to be set, and I had to keep ratcheting it down to get a little sleep in. With the oximeter SpO2 threshold at 90% and pulse rate at 50 bpm, sleep was not possible. What I've settled on is SpO2 at 85% and pulse rate at 35 bpm. One night, I think the alarm had been going off for a while, as SpO2 was at 81%. I watched the sensor as I remained still but breathing normally, but there was no change until I started moving around. The oximeter generally wakes me up 2 times a night, but sometimes it may be a few more times and occasionally I get a full night sleep. I may have an occasional mild headache, but it goes away quickly after waking up. Just to note that when the alarm goes off, I can lay very still, breathe normally, and the readings don’t change. I’m sure this is not sleep apnea, since I’m confident my breathing is completely unobstructed. I must move around when the alarm sounds, and I generally get out of bed for several minutes; otherwise, the alarm goes right back off.

I’ve been out of town for a week and won’t be back until this coming weekend, but before I left, I saw my PCP. He prescribed me 2 months of doxy and beta blocker for high blood pressure – blood pressure was 158/85 at the last office visit. He feels the high blood pressure and sleep apnea are causing my headaches. He wouldn’t hear that I could be fully awake and breathing normally, and the beta blockers just make the slow pulse rate problem worse at night, so I’m not even taking them now. He wants me to take these for 2 months before he runs tests, and after the tests he’d refer me to a specialist (including a sleep apnea expert). I’m really concerned about damage to my body from low oxygen saturation, so I don’t want to wait around another few months – I did attempt to make an appointment with a cardiologist directly, but I must have a referral, plus the cardiologist can’t get me in for a month.

And then there was tonight. I went on a walk of around 2 miles and was feeling tired when I got back, so I put on the oximeter, and it read 88% for SpO2 when I was sitting up! I tried to get some sleep, but I awoke with a headache after a couple hours, so I tracked down this forum! I've been out of town for a week and won’t get back until this coming weekend, but I’m trying to work out a plan of what I need to do when I get back. I’ll mention that during this process I saw another GP, but since the Lymes test was negative, he ran the common blood test that didn’t reveal anything significant. I got the impression he thinks this is in my mind, so I won’t be going back there.

I feel trapped – I don’t feel as if I can wait any longer, and I recently read of an individual who had to have a heart replacement because of Lymes, which has really made me nervous. This is the crazy thing – I’m not 100% certain I have Lymes, but there is a group in California that can apparently test for this accurately, but it’s thousands of dollars to get fully tested. If I get a positive result, I’m not sure that wouldn’t change anything on my end, other than to say, “It’s confirmed.”

I’m really concerned about the SpO2 and pulse rate. Has anyone else run across low SpO2 and pulse rate because of Lymes? Was any treatment successful? Was a root cause identified? Was there any permanent damage?

Thanks
 
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