Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The non heart-attack

It was 2:40 a.m. Wednesday and I suddenly awoke to a crippling, crushing pain in the left side of my chest. For minutes, I laid there, taking tiny, shallow breaths, because the reward of breathing deeply was not unlike a group of elephants tap dancing on my chest. After a few minutes of this melodrama, I sat up with a sudden jolt, realizing that this was actually happening and not a figment of my semi-awake conscience, or overactive imagination. I went downstairs and ate some Tums, because that is apparently a reasonable thing to do when you are moments away from death.

Craig was not home (strike one Craig), but was still awake when I called him at 2:50 a.m. (redemption of strike one) with details of my predicament. In typical Craig fashion, he calmly asked a series of very annoying, practical, questions. “Are you sweaty?” No. “Are you dizzy?” No. “Does anything else feel weird?” No. “Well, it’s probably muscular; I’d just go back to bed.” When your wife calls you in the middle of the night, besieged by pain of unknown origin, serenely telling her to go back to bed isn’t all that helpful (strike one reinstated). While I concurred that it probably wasn’t life threatening, difficulty breathing and moving aren’t really conducive to sleep and watching the Golden Girls re-runs was only entertaining for so long.

I started contemplating what exactly I would do if I found myself in a medical emergency home alone with a 3.5 year old. How fun would that be? Do the hospitals have some nanny-concierge service? The pessimist in me started to think of how ironic it would be if I were having heart problems since I’ve never been in better shape, or on a healthier diet. Life’s a bitch like that. I also became keenly aware of the fact that I was wearing a shirt with a tie-dyed peace sign that my aunt made for me, oh, about fifteen years ago. While nothing about me screams TIE-DYE or PEACE-SIGN, it was the last time I saw her, so I’ve held on to it for sentimental reasons. However, those same sentiments suddenly don’t seem important when you realize that you could be facing your own mortality, only to be found in such attire.

Eventually I went to sleep and I miraculously woke up the following morning. By mid-day, the pain still wasn’t gone and I figured that I should probably visit the Doctor, lest I suffer a repeat performance at home again that night. I jokingly informed the nurse that I was having chest pain, but I was certain it was muscular, resulting from a fairly intense session at the gym on Sunday. For any of you who know me, you know that nothing ever works this easily for me. Suffice to say, my blood pressure, which is normally about 117/77, decided to show me who was boss and registered 155/93 when she took it.

Do you know what a 29 year-old with chest pain and sudden high blood pressure gets on her lunch hour? Blood work, chest x-rays, and an EKG. Isn’t life grand? Thankfully everything came back fine. The blood pressure was likely just the culmination of MY LUCK OVER THE PREVIOUS 24 HOURS, and has since returned to normal.

The final diagnosis? Costochondritis. If given the choice between costochondritis and walking over hot coals in my bare feet, I’d find myself in quite a quandary.


Marinka said...

that is so scary, but thank goodness that you're ok. And I can't believe you made me click on that scary word to find out that you have chest wall pain. You know, people with chest walls shouldn't throw stones.

Call Me Cate said...

So glad you're alright! It's amazing the pains that exercise can cause. Sucks to workout and eat right.

cardiogirl said...

Wow, that bites hard. I'd have to say "In your face!" to my husband after that diagnosis, however, since it clearly states that the pain mimics a HEART ATTACK.

When I occasionally have strange pains like that I tell my husband about it and he usually responds the way yours did. And that's when I tell him, "I just want you to be able to tell the Medical Examiner what I was feeling before I died. It might help with the final autopsy report."

He's getting tired of that response as well.

Christy said...

Scary - I've had that same feeling before and it does feel exactly like how heart attacks are described.

Loved you line about "nanny-concierge service" at the hospital!

Ann's Rants said...

Thank goodness you are okay. I've had those same thoughts when Husband is traveling...what if what if what it.

And you'd look gorgeous t-shirt not-withstanding.

the Provident Woman said...

I think I've had this before. My husband just told me I was crazy and semi ignored my complaints. Not totally though he did say he would take me to the doctor if it didn't get better.