Monday, November 15, 2010

As funny as a heart attack

On Saturday I was sitting around trying to work up the motivation to do some housework when I noticed an odd sensation in my chest.  It was like painful pressure and a kind of tightness.  A few moments later I started to have pain radiating up my neck into my jaw and across my left shoulder and down my arm.  "Be reasonable" I told myself.  "You are too young to be having a heart attack. This will go away soon."

But then it didn't go away.  So even though I felt stupid about it I went to Jesse and suggested that perhaps we take a little drive to the ER.  You know, for funsies.  Jesse was very concerned and as soon as he finished his fantasy football trade he drove me to the hospital.

Turns out a good way to be seen really quickly in the ER is to walk in and use the phrases "chest pain" and "going down my left arm".  It also helps to be naturally pale so that the intake nurse is able to remark on how pale you look but then when you catch a glimpse of your reflection in the mirror you wonder what she was talking about because you don't look any paler than usual and then you think about it for a minute and you feel a little sad.

I was given some aspirin to chew and then I got an EKG.  When that came back ok I had a chest x-ray to be sure my lung had not collapsed AGAIN.  It hadn't but the pain persisted.  I then had a scan using contrast dye.  When the dye was injected I panicked because I thought I peed my pants.  As I was lying there wondering how I was going to hide that the scan technician said "Oh, by the way, the dye may make you feel like you peed your pants."  Thanks for mentioning that after I had already formulated an elaborate plan to start a small fire in the lab to distract everyone from the puddle I left.  The scan looked good.

Since all my test results were normal but I was still having the pain the ER doctor decided to admit me overnight for observation.  "Crap!' was my general reaction.  I didn't even know doctors did that in real life.  It seems like a plot point on tv shows, not something that doctors really do.

I was given a room with a roommate who was deaf and kept screaming the same three questions at me over and over.  She had a stack of magazines that she kept ripping articles out of.  She had some kind of super sonic ripping powers or something because all evening long I could hear her rip, rip, RIPPING pages even though I had my headphones in as I caught up on missed episodes of the Amazing Race.

I pretty much got no sleep at night because nurses kept coming in to check on me and draw my blood and give me EKGs.  At one point my chest was really hurting and I got a nitro glycerin pill.  That didn't help.  In fact it made me feel like I was being dipped in cement.  Cement that was on fire.  Not pleasant.  The fact that it didn't work was actually good thing since it proved once and for all that whatever was going on with me was not cardiac.

After a long visit with a doctor in the morning she told me that was she suspected is that I had had an esophageal spasm.  She also thought I was having some bad heartburn.  At first I thought that was silly but then I realized that I actually have been having heartburn ever since I was about three months pregnant with the twins.  It's just that it got so much better after they were born that I've kind of learned to live with it and not notice it most of the time.  The doctor thought that I might have some irritation or damage from the pregnancy heartburn that never really healed.

So, long story short (or not short at all I guess) I was sent home with a acid blocker that I have to take for the next three months.  I didn't have a heart attack.  I feel like a giant idiot for running to the ER for what basically amounts to indigestion.  Sorry this is such a boring story.  There's really nothing interesting about a heart attack that isn't actually a heart attack.

For real fun and laughs tune in tomorrow when I have an actual heart attack as I try to figure out how in the heck we're going to pay the bill for the world's most expensive heartburn.

Three years ago today I met my best friend.
Four years ago today I got ready for my first surrogacy.


Stimey said...

Here's the thing: You can't feel stupid about going to the ER when the doctors were concerned enough to keep you overnight. PLUS! Imagine if it had been a heart attack and you hadn't gone. Where would the world be without Problem Girl? In a lot of trouble, that's where.

I'm glad you're okay. Also, I'm sorry for your heartburn. Also also, I wish you had gotten a private room.

Shannon said...

Oh my! Pregnancy and what it does to our bodies!!!! Ten days after my first baby was born I had sever pain under my ribs/chest. The ER doctors suspected I had a pulmonary embolism (I had a c-section and i guess it's a risk post-op). I had xrays and ultrasounds and also had that same test with the dye and the peeing sensation. Only I was lucky enough to have a kind nurse who warned me about that before they injected the dye into my IV. The sensation is very real, you are so right! In the end, after several days in the hospital and no actual problems found I was sent home and in the end everything was fixed with a trip to the chiropractor. Turns out the pain (which was truly excruciating) was caused by my ribs slowly moving back into their normal position after my pregnancy. OW. It's ridiculous how long the effects can last! Hope you are able to find a solution to your heartburn from hell. :)

Shari said...

Total sympathy. I have had what I believe to be esophageal spasm (diagnosed as probable much later), and it is incredibly painful. Never did the ER run, but it sure was scary, especially the first time. Glad that you had doctors that actually took you seriously and didn't say it must be all in your head if it didn't show up on EKG.

Jen said...

Awwwwww. *sniff* Happy Anniversary. Love ya, girl.

Unemployed in PDX said...

i went to the ER about 6 months ago with a very similar thing... i woke Brian up in the middle of the night to drive me to the hospital because i could not imagine these sensations, all around my heart and radiating to my back could be anything but a heart attack.

after blood work and an ultrasound, it turned out to be freaking heartburn, sort of. they were not sure so it was chalked up to be a generalized heartburn thing. i was consoled because the doctor was equally frustrated by the vague diagnosis.

how stupidly embarrassing?

Anonymous said...

Jen, never, ever, take chest pain lightly! You did the right thing! But,my dear, you must time these things better and do this type of stuff at the beginning of the year, thereby getting all deductibles and maximum out of pocket down with early so the rest of the year is clear sailing! (just kidding!) I'm so glad everything turned out okay for you!

MIL... Judy

Emily said...

This happens all the TIME! Justyn went to the ER only to be told the same thing once but he didn't get admitted. Are you still feeling okay? Text me, woman!