Way back here, I lamented over why I was sick, and why doctors couldn’t really figure out why I had chronic chest pain. After that encounter with my cardiologist, I eventually went under for an upper endoscopy to determine if my chest pain was related to simple acid reflux. My doctors determined it was, and put me on a pretty heavy does of medicine that has more or less worked to control the pain for the last two years.
Now, when I say chest pain, I mean something completely different than heartburn. We’ve all had heartburn. That’s a burning that is pretty distinct and can be pretty uncomfortable, but usually can be calmed with some Pepto or milk or just a few hours of time. This isn’t like a burning at all. This is a throbbing pain in the center of my chest, right about where you’d assume your heart would be. And, it doesn’t go away with Pepto or a few hours of uncomfortable waiting.
No, not at all. This is like someone stepping on the middle of my chest and gently rocking up and down, and occasional, reaching down to stick a dagger in the center of my breastbone. Sure, it comes with some usual acid reflux symptoms: I constantly have to clear my throat some days, and when I belch, it’s not like I just drank a bit too much soda too quickly. It’s more like there is something evil deep down inside my torso who has decided to breath fire, and I can feel it escape all the way up.
But a lot of that stuff had been in check for the last two years and although I didn’t particularly enjoy having to take constant medication to control it, it worked. Until three months ago. Occasional I would skimp on my medication over long weekends when I was running around and not at home during my usual work week times. And that would cause an early week flare up. But as soon as I got back on a regular schedule, things were fine, and I felt great. But three months ago, even when I was on schedule, and never missed a dose, I still felt really, really shitty.
My chest basically throbbed, to varying degrees, pretty much all day. At night, it seemed to subside, but during the day, when I was simply sitting at my desk at work, talking with my peers, secretly I was in distress, uncomfortable with what might be causing the pain in my chest. I hadn’t missed doses. I hadn’t eaten anything crazy for breakfast. Even now, I haven’t had coffee in months. Still, nothing could really explain what was up.
After a few weeks of that, I went to see my family doctor. She was shocked at the dosage of acid reflux medication I was taking already, but nevertheless, prescribed even more medication for a month to see if it helped. It didn’t . After a six weeks, I still felt kind of crappy in general, even though I started working out again, hadn’t been sick, and had been taking the medication that made me feel normal for the last two years.
Finally it came to a head this week. I didn’t go to work on Monday, but that can partially be explained from this. But Tuesday I was okay, even though I felt the normal crappy feeling I had been feeling for a few months. That’s how I felt when the earthquake hit. Then Wednesday started out relatively fine. But after lunch, my chest was pounding with pain. I had a bowl of cereal for breakfast and a peach for lunch. I was having heat flashes, my feet were tingling, and I was breaking out in sweats. I had finally had enough. There was just no reason for me to feel as horrible as I was feeling. I left work and checked myself into the ER, hoping I wasn’t having the heart attack that my symptoms pointed towards.
Monika returned after I answered about a hundred texts wondering why I was in the ER and if I was okay from my friends and family. At this point in the evening, drugs had dropped my blood pressure to an amazing 116 over 62. The nitroglycerin gel they had pasted on my body every four hours had given me a wicked head ache, so they followed with some pain killers.
There was a pull out bed in my room for Monika. I was still a robot, with and IV in my arm, and a computer hanging from my neck relaying my vitals to the nurses’ station, so we couldn’t sleep in the same bed. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t allowed regardless. We booted up my laptop and watched “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” again. Then, we went to bed at midnight.
I’ll be back at work tomorrow, and at least I know when I’m stabbed in the chest, it’s not a heart attack. The pain was never overwhelming, but the stress of not knowing only made the pain worse. So that’s that. I got to try out the new hospital. Hopefully it doesn’t cost me more that my 75 dollar copay. And if you ever get the chance to stay at the new Virtua, hopefully your results come out as positive as mine.