Feels Like a Heart Attack
The last couple of days have been a lot. I will try not to rehash all of it because I assume that most of the people that read this blog are already friends of mine on Facebook and Instagram and therefore already know.
It started Monday night after dinner. My stomach just didn't feel right (btw, dinner was a delicious pork stir-fry and I am not suggesting it made me sick - especially as I was the only one affected).
I went to bed feeling overly bloated, a little nauseous, light head headed and clammy. I mostly thought I had caught something at the Pub the day before.
But I couldn't sleep and I had to lay on my back because laying on either side made me feel worse. I also had a cold damp rag on my head. I felt icky. It was not a restful night - I think I slept in 20 minute increments.
At 5 I was woken up by a pain in my chest - just between the boobs. But it felt like what I imagine being stabbed would feel like. And it didn't let up. and it was radiating up to my right ear.
I've never had heartburn. Gas, yes. Heartburn, not that I can recall. So I first thought it was maybe that. But I also remember reading years ago that heart attacks in women present themselves differently than in men.
And it turns out, I had all the symptoms (for more information on this, please read here).
I wanted it to be heartburn but I just didn't think that's what it was. So I nudged Rob and told him I needed him fully awake.
"I am not being facetious, I think I might be having a heart attack."
I explained why, he got me some Tums - because it can't hurt to try - and then I explained my thought process. It only took about 10 minutes for me to convince us both that we should go to the ER.
What brings you in today? I think I might be having a heart attack. Or heartburn.
I would like to say for the record that at no time during my stay did anyone tease me about this. In fact, I was universally told they were glad I came in and listened to my body. I was immediately given an EKG, blood was drawn, then a chest x-ray, followed by a CT scan. I was hooked up to all kinds of monitors. I think after about an hour and a half or so the pain finally went away. I was only given baby aspirin.
Which is fine because I'm pretty sure if I had been having a heart attack things would have moved much faster. But overall they still treated me as a cardiac patient.
Eventually they came in and did a sonogram which is when the gallstone was discovered. And not long after that, I found out a gallstone is commonly mistaken for a heart attack.
And now you know too, in case you didn't.
Eventually I was admitted so they could do a stress test and ECG on me, with the expectation that after that we would discuss the gallstone. Maybe if I had ongoing pain, things would have gone differently. The problem is once that initial 2 hours of pain went away, it never came back (though admittedly, that's a good problem).
So now I'm just in the hospital with a whole bunch of things attached to me and I feel completely fine. And it isn't even the drugs talking because I was never given anything stronger than baby aspirin.
Well not completely fine. I was on a clear liquid diet until 6:15 pm and I was really fighting off the hanger.
Yesterday morning, before the stress test my medical doctor came in and told me that as long as cardiology cleared me, I would be discharged.
But what about the "significant stone" in my gallbladder? Are we doing anything about that?
The surgeon, who has not come to see me BTW, has concluded that since all my levels are fine that we don't need to do anything about it right now. Which I think is BS and I tell the medical doctor but she's basically just reading off a piece of paper at this point.
When my nurse next came back in and said I would be discharged later in the day, I expressed my frustration. He suggested I get a patient advocate. I said yes please and he said he would work on that.
Meanwhile I was gone for several hours to do the stress test. I guess while I was gone the PA showed up and basically told my nurse they can't force them to operate. Which is fine I guess but I want answers and I am tired of going third party.
Finally the surgeon's nurse comes in to talk to me (the same one I met the day before that informed me of the "significant" stone that will need to be removed - her words). I thought I made my case with her but then probably an hour later I was brought discharge papers and that seemed to be the end of it.
Before signing my papers I asked for the results of my stress test. I mean, presumably everything was fine since they were releasing me but since I had spent the better part of the last 36 hours being monitored and photo'd and prodded and tested, I would like to know the results.
My nurse tried to look it up for me but he couldn't find anything in the system. He left and never came back so eventually (like 2 hours later) I left too...
Walking past the nurses station they asked me if I wanted to be wheeled out. Ummm...given that I am already at the elevator, doesn't it seem a bit late for that?
And that's the story of how I thought I was having a heart attack (or maybe heartburn) and spent 36 hours in the hospital only to find out it was a gallstone that they were going to do nothing about.
I am terrified of what the bill is going to look like.
My discharge papers are 21 pages of information about the medicines I should take. That's it. Sure there was a follow up with your doctor section but it was mostly information about the meds - one of which is baby aspirin.
Why am I being put on baby aspirin if I don't have a heart problem?
I just received a call back from the cardiologist. He was apologetic and said he had relayed the information to my medical doctor. I told him it hadn't made it to my chart - I've even looked online. He then told me everything looked normal. There was no sign of cardiac event. And no, I don't need to start a baby aspirin regimen.
I am now looking for a gastroenterologist to assist with the gallstone issue.
Fun fact, I have a gastroenterologist. You may recall this post where I spoke about how I was trying to take better care of myself which included finally seeing a doctor about persistent issues.
Issues that he told me were probably just mild IBS and I should just watch what I eat.
Issues which were in fact probable gallbladder issues. Which he never even checked.
And in case you think I am being too hard on him, maybe he doesn't know about gallbladders...this morning I googled what do you call a gallbladder doctor?
So obviously I don't want to use the hospital recommended doc since he couldn't be bothered to talk to me for even 5 minutes. And I clearly don't want to go back to the guy I went to before that not only misdiagnosed me but kind of poopoo'd me (pun intended).
Any gastroenterologists recommendations in the Plano area?
Moral of the story here is listen to your body. I could have just laid in bed a couple more hours until the pain went away, hoping for the best. And I probably would have been fine. And who knows how many more episodes I might have ignored.
I was certainly tempted.
It's no secret that I am currently unemployed which makes a potentially huge hospital bill - to be quickly followed by another - less than ideal (not to mention we just bought a new car so there's not a lot of extra cash in the coffer). I'm glad I wasn't having a heart attack and grateful it wasn't just an expensive case of heartburn (not that I wanted anything to be wrong with me but it does help lessen the blow when you find out there is a legitimate thing).
Rob says we will figure it out and I know he's right. I just hate having money issues hanging over my head...even the imaginary ones I am anticipating.
In the meantime I will continue researching docs so I can get this gallstone taken care of ASAP - no better time than the present, at least I don't have to ask off from work. And I'll also be looking into low-fat diets because that's a thing I have to do now.
Look it is one thing to tell me to go on a low-fat diet to lose weight. It's an entirely different matter when you tell me not eating low-fat might make me feel like I am having a heart attack again.
I do not want to go through that again.
I've been trying to post about the rest of the bedroom makeover, the dressers and mirrors are done. Hopefully that's what my next post will be about....
#stilllucky #infinitelybetter #hearthealth #gallstone #gallbladder #heartattackinwomen #falsealarm