It’s NOT a Heart Attack (but it certainly felt like one)
Those of you who have read my blogs regularly at Real Solutions Nursing may remember one of my first blogs, about 2 years ago ,was titled” It’s NOT a Stroke.” It was about my experience in an urgent care/ hospital ER of a well renowned medical facility, my 8 hours of various tests to rule out a stroke when I made a visit (initially) to Urgent Care for what I had self diagnosed as a possible detaching retina. In an extravagant example of CYA I spent a lot of time and money only to be told to return the next day to see an ophthalmologist……….
Two days ago I finally convinced myself to go to Urgent Care (one that my insurance tells me is my “provider” of choice. this year) .The pain going up into my jaw and down my left arm was NOT going away. I figured Urgent Care was the best place to start as it was a) closer to home b) less expensive c) a good place to rule out a pinched nerve. I was told abruptly that Urgent Care was not appropriate when one is experiencing symptoms of a heart attack and that 911 had been called and I’d be transported to a real emergency room. I suggested Tom driving me there would be more efficient and less expensive. Everyone else (except Tom) had other ideas. Off I went by squad. At least I didn’t have to drive myself there in an ice storm as in the last incident………
Two nitroglycerin tablets and lots of baby aspirin later the pain had lessened and the testing had begun. EKGs, enzymes, labs and more labs, monitors and more monitors, oxygen and oxygen levels, IVs. Stress tests (I could have told them by that time I was stressed), lung tests and enough dye injected to light up Cleveland. I had more wires than Howdy Doody! I even got an overnight stay in the “Clinical Decision Unit”. 30+ hours later I came home. My heart, lungs, cholesterol, labs, enzymes, everything -looks like I’m 20 years younger than my actual age and in great health.
AND…………..it’s NOT a heart attack. Boy, did I miss diagnose that one, GREATFULLY!
So, why the fuss? Why the pain? Why am I relating this to all of you?
First and foremost to tell you to NEVER ignore chest pain, radiating arm pain, shortness of breath or anything else that could by signs of a heart attack. Have it checked out. Not one person , doctor, nurse, or EMT criticized me for going to the ER (I did get yelled at for stopping at Urgent Care first….) No one said I was being silly and sent me home. It could be the real thing and you might not get a second chance.
The second reason? Holidays are fast approaching. Winter is in the immediate forecast and last minute Fall stuff like where to put all those leaves before it snows this weekend, and an unfinished summer building project are vying for my attention. Family stuff, work stuff……one thing piling on top of another. For many reasons, for many people, this can be a very stressful time of year. I now know my body responds to high levels of stress with radiating pain down my left arm, atypical angina. I know I have to find a better way to handle it and stop just talking about walking and meditating every day. I really need to DO IT. I need to worry less about things I can’t control and confront the things I can.
Take away messages here? If you have been putting off getting a physical and are over 55 do it now. You may be pleasantly surprised OR you may find out you just missed having “the big one” when the doctor finds your cholesterol off the chart and 4 of your coronary vessels are blocked.
Don’t put off adding a little exercise to your life. New Year’s is NOT the best time to start something new. Just adding 10 min. a day of walking can make a difference, not just physically but mentally . Fresh air and more blood flow to the brain helps to clear out the cobwebs. 10,000 steps a day is NOT impossible. (if you want a free pedometer contact me – Real Solutions Nursing is giving them away )
Stop dithering. Face the problems you”ve been trying to ignore and make a plan. Or cross them off your list. Worry is a problem, not a solution.
It was NOT a Heart Attack………but it was a wake-up call.
Think about it.