Tuesday, August 27, 2013

another round...

I took Kai into Children's for his annual cardiology appointment but ended up at VGH for myself. Oops.

It started out just fine. I was happily surprised when my Hunny stayed home from work, which meant that I could leave the majority of children with him (taking more than 2 children in for a doctor's appointment at a time is quite stressful for me! They don't sit still, they play, they fight, they get bored, they complain, they climb on furniture, they climb all over me.... *sigh*  I try to keep my patience, and I try to pack snacks and activities to keep their attention, and I try to listen to the doctor, but it is not easy and if I can I like to go with as less kids when I need to to see a doctor, thank-you very much!)   But as Kai and I were leaving, I started to feel a bit nauseated. Then as we were driving down the freeway, I started to find it difficult to breathe in deeply enough. And then my heart started to dance and palpitate. And then I had a hot flash go up my body, starting at my feet and sweeping all the way up to my head. And then I really had a hard time getting enough oxygen.  I was 20ms from Children's, and my hands and feet were tingly and felt like dead weights, and I didn't feel good and I debated on pulling over to call 9-1-1, but then I would feel 'fine enough', and there was just enough traffic that I couldn't get into the far right lane, and then I thought if I could just get to the hospital, I could get Kai in for his needed appointment and then I could see a doctor. It's a hospital, it shouldn't be that hard to find someone to check over me!

I had a whole bunch of thoughts go through my head. Heart attack? I know that they hit women differently then men, and heart/chest pain, difficulty breathing and nausea are symptoms.  Or could it just be nerves? Yes, I don't like to drive Oak Street...I find the 6 lanes of traffic a bit stressful. (I tell myself that my van can fit into the lanes just fine, after all there are big trucks that drive these roads every day, but I am convinced that where I live it would only be 4 lanes of traffic! Eek!)  But since I have driven this route many times before (and have made the trip to Children's annually for 8 years, and gone to Women's, in the same location, sometimes twice a month when I was pregnant with Eden) I didn't think I was *that* stressed.  Maybe it was my asthma bothering me; but taking my inhalers gave me no comfort, just got me buzzy with steroids. Maybe it was just indigestion? I felt gassy and nauseated, so could that be it?  (a trip to the bathroom didn't ease the symptoms though)

After I got Kai checked in, I really didn't feel good and I just wanted to lay down. My chest started to tighten and hurt and my breathing got worse. Finally, I went up to the receptionist and asked if I could see a doctor? This would be the perfect time for me to feel slightly embarrassed (I'm about to make a scene at the Children's hospital with a ton of other parents and patients watching me!), but I was feeling too weary and too sore to even pay attention to them.  One of the Cardiologists came over and sat beside me, checking my pulse (said it was normal) and asked what was happening, then asked if I wanted an ambulance. I was asked that twice, as I had to think it over. Did I really think I was "sick enough" to call for an ambulance? Since this had been going on for an hour and was only getting worse, I agreed to an ambulance and they packed me up to go to VGH, leaving BCCH!  Of course, despite being in a hospital and being surrounded by Cardiologists, I had to be seen by an "adult doctor" at an "adult hospital", which meant them having to call for one to get me! Poor Kai was sitting there bewildered! He ended up missing his Cardiologist appointment after all!!!! :(  Boo!

With my Dad having a heart attack last year (a few days before he turned 60) and his Father dying of a stroke caused by heart attack at 60, I was slightly concerned about my own heart. And with my chest pain, the paramedics did tests as well. They did an ECG reading before we left, and gave me two baby aspirin to chew (orange flavored too!), and everything looked ok based on that.  At VGH (which is maybe 10 minutes away) they did another ECG test, plus took some blood, gave me more chewable aspirin, and sprayed under my tongue with nitroglycerine.  (which for some reason always makes me think of those muscle cars that use nitrous to boost their power! lol) One nurse tried to do an IV on my left hand, which hurt worse than the chest pain! (I hate those things! It's like sticking a long metal rod into a tiny hose! IV's just don't Fit in my hands!!!) For some reason, he couldn't get it in, which meant it had to be done again later. Boo! When things settled a bit more, another nurse tried to insert the IV into my right inner elbow. I was ok with that, until she couldn't thread it in, then that hurt a lot too! :( It was bad enough that the pain would come in waves and I had to ask her to wait with the IV so I could try to remember to breathe, but to have her hit the wrong spot didn't make it any better. As she was attempting the third IV placement in my right hand, it hit again and I had to roll over to my side to ease the pain. She managed to insert it just fine this time though. Finally! (it turned out she had used a smaller needle. I'm going to have to remember to ask for that when I go in to the hospital again. So much less painful!) By then I was in such discomfort that they suggested a pain medication. Have you ever had morphine? I have had it twice now. The first time was with my ectopic in 2005, when I was in the ER, and it was terrible. I could feel it hit me, as it started at my feet and went up my whole body until I was truly drugged. It was not a good feeling. Krista (my nurse) said she would give me a "small dose", but I wasn't too sure what that meant, but I admit that it hit me differently this time. Oh, it hit me all at once, like a forceful wind knocking me over, but it wasn't as bad as the first time. I did think I was going to fall over though! I was supposed to sit up nice and still for the portable x-ray machine (no, I'm not possibly pregnant, but thanks for asking) but I felt so drugged that I thought I was going to fall over, and I couldn't control my body. I have a hard time thinking that some people actually like this feeling? But I guess if you feel your life is so messed up that you'd rather feel drugged...that's sad. :(

I was drugged up pretty good. The good news is that I wasn't in any pain anymore. I could feel the pressure in my chest, but it didn't hurt. The other good news is that all of my tests were coming back normal, which meant no heart attack or problems. But all I wanted to do was sleep. I felt so out of it and I had lost my bedside humor. Instead of making jokes and trying to laugh my way out of the situation (what I like to do), I had nothing to say and I felt dizzy and wanted to rest. At one time, I was so loopy that I was falling asleep, but I got nervous that I was passing out because I'd be laying there and would suddenly hear voices and noises again, as I was coming back alert. (apparently a side effect of morphine is to make you sleepy. It would've been nice if I was told that!)

I got a nice bed in the ER for a good 5 hours until the doctor transferred me to the DTU, which is an extension of the ER even though you are admitted to the hospital (which confused me), but you're only there for a few hours (maybe sometimes overnight, for a short term stay) as they finish up tests on you. It was a quiet unit, with just myself in a huge room! Kai got to come over too, of course, and by then Hunny had joined us. (My Dad drove him into Children's to pick up the van, and then he went back home to help my Mom watch the other kids. Don't ask why he didn't come and take Kai home as well. The men didn't think of that. Us women did and it didn't make sense to us that they didn't!) It was quite boring for them. But at least they got to go out and get something to eat. I got a tuna sandwich that the nurse scrounged up! And that just made me nauseated again. So I got to have some Gravol. Oh yay.  So I was drugged up even more. And I felt it!!!

After 7 hours, I got to go home! Hooray. Apparently I was "well enough!" My heart was deemed healthy. I was not considered at risk of anything drastic happening. (although I was told to head back to ER if my chest started to hurt again.) Apart from feeling Very Loopy, that is. I was told to take baby aspirin and make an appointment to have a stress test done. That was it.

I don't know what causes my chest pain. I am no closer to having an answer. I do know that what it isn't though, and that should be comforting, but it's hard. I have a feeling that this may never be solved. But this is the second time I've ended up in the ER by ambulance from chest pain. I had to call for one from home last year, Sept 2012. That was another day that Kai was with me, since he stayed home from school that day. Everything was fine and I felt ok, but then I got up to get something and I had a sudden sharp pain in my chest that made me stop in shock. It felt like knives digging and pushing into my chest wall, on my left side, above my heart. I didn't really think I was having a heart attack, but decided to Google symptoms anyways! (not that it made me feel any better) I was having trouble breathing and was dizzy and weak, so I finally called 9-1-1. That visit to LMH was different in that the pain was different. This past week I had a pressure, as if something was pushing down on top and from the sides of my left chest. Last year it was sharp spasms that came every few minutes. It left me gasping and doubling over in pain. I didn't have morphine then, but they gave me Demerol, which left me pretty drugged too. Of course, they did the usual x-ray, ECGs and blood tests to determine it wasn't my heart. In fact, the doctor said that it was "intra-muscular." and sent me home.  In my own searches, I came up with Costochondritis as a possibility, but my doctor suggested Tietze Syndrome. Neither of which can be helped, only treated with anti-inflamatories. So when I had the same sharp piercing pain last Sunday at my parent's house, I tried to rest, to control my breathing, and took some Naproxin and tylenol. Finally after 2 1/2 hours, the pain went away.

I don't know what to do. I've looked up possibilities that have popped into my head, even if there isn't an obvious link. Like Diabetes (I have a triple threat, since there's family history, since I have a sweet tooth not the best eating or exercising habits, and because I was on insulin for gestational diabetes with E. Oh great.) Or Hypothyroid. (which I am.) or Asthma. (which I have) Or Pulmonary Hypertension (I came across that in a search, and it scared me just a bit, until I realized that it was likely ruled out by the tests I did in the ER) It was also suggested by my family doctor and some friends that maybe it was a Panic Attack, which really didn't make me feel any better. I suppose it would be better than a heart attack, but it just didn't sit well with me. Sure, I have a few stressful situations going on (finances, not knowing which school the kids would go to, deciding on a move or not, finances, not enough sleep, ongoing delayment issues with R, finances, feeling unsure on what to do, deciding on going back to work, and did I mention finances?) but I tend to handle stress pretty good. I talk about it, and I think it over, and I try to come up with different solutions. But mostly I end up having to let it go. If I feel there isn't an answer that I can find, I know that my only solution is to give it back to God and let Him show me how to deal with it. Mostly His reply to me is to wait, and I'll admit that I am still struggling with patience, but He loves to teach me, so I wait. And wait. And wait. And pray for peace and wisdom and patience.  It hasn't been an easy summer with all of the things we felt we needed to decide on, but after several nice long walks and talks with Hunny (while the older kids were away) I felt confident in what we had come up with. So I didn't feel panicky, or fearful or like a stress ball. But it's so hard. I don't know what to think. A part of me thinks we'll never get a full answer and that's frustrating. But maybe that can be okay in the end, too. My friend gave me a wonderful text, saying "When God wants you to walk with a limp, you walk with a limp."  Maybe this is my limp.


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