Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Well, I Almost Made It

I don't expect anyone to read this. Just keeping a record for my own piece of mind. And this seems the appropriate venue.

I came so close to ending 2013 without another copay. So very close. But alas... I didn't make it.

I started having the chest pains a few months ago. Nothing serious, just some tightening here and there. It almost always happened when I was worrying about something, so it was easy to write off as stress. About a month ago, though, it got worse. It went from tight and uncomfortable to legitimate pain. And, instead of intermittent, it became a constant ache. It also kind of radiated down my arm. When I started rubbing my chest like my uncle used to do before a bypass, I called the doctor.

Now, in my defense, I didn't call the doctor sooner because I was fairly certain I wasn't going to die from this one (and, as you can see, I was right). And I was sure I couldn't have a heart problem because I don't have a family history of heart problems... except for the family members with heart problems. And I was busy! New business, two kids, brown dog... lots on my plate. I simply didn't have time for a heart problem or the treatment. As we learned from Cancergate '12, treatments take a whole lot of time.

Also, I'm tired of sitting on these.
I was also pretty sure that the chest pains were reflux-related because someone hasn't been taking her reflux meds but had been on an orange juice kick. The arm pain made sense because I'd picked up some Christmas trees the day before and the weird arm positions that involved would almost certainly lead to a twinge or two.

Be that as it may, there were some things in my past (like recent radiation treatment) that made the chest pain a little too ominous. So, I took my happy self to the doctor. My doctor is pretty awesome. She's the first practitioner who has taken it in stride that "nothing presents normally" in me. Strep test negative? I definitely have strep. Biopsy negative? It's just kidding. Ankle bruised, clicking, and flopping around in the socket? Not broken, just a sprain. She gets it and it doesn't seem to phase her. Unfortunately, my symptoms were a little too textbook for her to write them off as I so desperately wanted her to. My EKG was "OK but not great". She gave me a choice: go to the hospital and be admitted overnight for observation or try to get in to see a cardiologist that same day. I, of course, chose the cardiologist because I had stuff to do that night.

I spent three or four hours at the cardiologist that day. Mostly waiting, but I did have a nice heart ultrasound which, you know, is a bonding experience with the ultrasound tech. When I finally got to see the cardiologist (who is completely awesome and worth the wait), he looked at my tests. He says I have mitral valve prolapse which sounds way cooler than it is but can account for the pain and dizziness. My mitral valve was a bit floppy, I'll admit, but I think it's just got pizzazz. Reduce caffeine, sleep and exercise more. I can do at least one of those. No beta blockers, though, because my blood pressure still runs pretty low. I had to come back, asap, for a stress test.

I talked them into giving me a few days to get things done before I came back. I would be much less stressed, I argued, if I could just get that week over with. No problem. I was scheduled to come back the next Monday but given strict instructions to call 911 immediately if my symptoms got worse. And for the love of Pete, lay off the OJ. But the next Monday, they called and pushed my test back a week. The scanner was broken. The next week, the same thing. Someone would come fix it, but my stress test was pushed back again, this time until after Christmas. I was to come in on the 30th. No problem. I spent the days before the stress test baking, Christmas shopping, and pretending I didn't have a cardiologist.

Yesterday was my stress test and it actually looked exactly like this except with less smiling and I was wearing a Superman shirt. Other than that, this picture is pretty darn accurate.

Actual poster of the test I had. I have no idea what it says.
Hey, did you know a stress test involves a radioactive scan? No? Neither did I.

Again? Really?
I am so damn sick of being in rooms with this on the door.
And if I never see another lead-lined box, it'll be too soon.
The sweet girl launches into her spiel about how safe the test is, even though it's radioactive and there's nothing to worry about. "I'm going to stop you right there. I already know this speech. Just... is this going to affect the radiation that's already in me?"


A quick detour to the scanner to see if the remnant radiation from the spring's I131 would affect the scanner's ability to read this radiation dose. Nope, no problem! Back to the room for an IV and some radioactive injections. I mean, what's one more, right? It's got to be cumulative. Just a little more and I'll be shooting webs. Right?

Injection, scan, treadmill, injection, scan, done.

The results were good. Nothing to worry about now, and I follow up in six weeks.

Seems the arm pain really was Christmas tree-related. The chest pain is better since I've cut way back on caffeine. The sleep and exercise... I'll work on it. For now, though, it's fine. And no more doctors in 2013!

No comments:

Post a Comment