I was doing the squeaky clean, low-cal, bodybuilding diet, drinking loads of water, and and taking diet pills with ephedrine, caffeine, and aspirin (ECA stack). It was ok at first. I was insanely wired and cleaning the house like someone in public service announcement for meth. I lost an inch off my waist really quickly. I was thinking I was handling it ok but then I started to get a buzzy feeling in my chest. It's hard to describe it. It was tingling and pressure, kind of like that whoosh you get in your stomach on a swing set, only it was in my chest. That didn't stop me, believe it or not! I got used to it! After another week or so of wired weirdness, the irregular heartbeat started. It was extremely horrifyingly out of whack. It would go - flutter, thump, paaaaaaause. The more scared I got, the faster and weirder it would beat. Then it would be totally fine for awhile until it happened again. I debated 911, an ambulance, the emergency room, but I ended up calling my doctor who had me come in, took one listen, and sent me downstairs to cardiology. They did an EKG. It wouldn't do the weird thing while I was wired. So they set me up with a portable EKG thingy that would monitor and record my heart rhythm for 24 hours. And they sent me home! I was petrified. The guy told me not to go to the bank, because it definitely looked like I had a bomb strapped to my chest. I went back the next day and they read the results, which I only vaguely remember now, but the upper chambers of my heart were throwing in extra beats. They put me on a treadmill for a stress test and maxed out my heart while I was all wired up. Then they quickly put me on a table and looked at my heart using a digital doppler doowacky. I could see and hear my heart valves opening and closing on the TV monitor, which was a total trip! They're strangely graceful looking. They were also normal and healthy. The conclusion was that it was the ephedrine, and that I would be totally fine as long as I never took it again. The weirdness lingered for a while and then I never felt it again.
It scared me absolutely senseless because I really believed I might die. I thought about my mom and my husband and all the people who loved me. How would they feel if I died suddenly? It made me ill to consider it. I thought about how lucky I was to be alive and healthy. What if there had been permanent damage? A lifelong heart condition? A stroke? Paralysis? I'd been willing to risk absolutely everything to be a bit leaner a bit faster. It blows my mind now.
That was just the slap I needed though. Since then, health and happiness have become top priorities.