A week ago today I was sitting at the desk in my craft room, when I felt a little flutter in my chest, followed by some pressure in my sternum. I thought to myself, “Hmmm that was weird”, but kept plugging away at whatever I was working on. It happened a few more times that morning, always passing quickly. I chalked it up to the Mexican food I’d had the night before – maybe it wasn’t agreeing with me. Although in the deep dark recesses of my mind, I remembered reading an article about how one of the symptoms WOMEN have when having a heart attack is a feeling of indigestion. Great.
After a quick afternoon nap, I felt fine until about a half an hour later when all of a sudden I had heart palpitations – I thought my heart was pounding out of my chest. When I felt my pulse in my neck it felt like it was irregular, skipping beats. I immediately got nervous. The pressure in my sternum was present, too. I took my blood pressure and both that and my heart rate were erratic – sometimes REALLY high, other times calm.
I tried not to panic, but this didn’t feel right. It also didn’t help that my husband was an hour and a half away. I was home alone, and at one point I was standing in my living room when a wave of panic hit me, followed by nausea, and I looked at my dog and thought, “I don’t want to drop dead right here in front of my dog…alone.”
Lightheaded, I made 2 phone calls – one to get a ride to the ER and one for a friend to meet me there because I knew she would keep me from losing it. I slowly packed a couple things I thought I might need for the hours I’d likely stay in the ER and off I went.
When you’re a 40-something female with heart palpitations, you’re admitted to the ER right away. I immediately was seen and had both an EKG and chest X-ray within minutes. Both came back clear, so they decided to do some blood work. Many hours later, I was told that I had an enzyme show up in my blood that was an indicator of a heart attack. It was a very small amount, but they wanted to see if it would rise (which often happens if you’ve had a heart attack). Even though the other tests didn’t show I’d had a heart attack, they decided to watch me closely because that enzyme shouldn’t be in my blood at all.
So, I was admitted to the hospital for further observation. I was hooked up to a heart monitor. I was poked, prodded and poked some more. Over the weekend, even though I felt relatively fine (the fluttering and indigestion episodes had stopped) I was given heart related medications and more EKGs. I had a regular doctor but also a cardiologist who was concerned about the enzymes (they had actually come down, however) and of all the options he gave me, my husband and I decided I’d have an angiogram. Which of course couldn’t be done until Monday.
Although I had plenty of visitors and people checking on me in various manners, I was a nervous wreck inside. What if I DID have a heart attack? What if I was all clogged up as a result of all the bad stuff I had done to my body. My mind was racing, especially focusing on the words the regular doctor had said: “We need to make sure you’re not about to have a catastrophic event.”
Turns out? My angiogram results were perfectly clear. That test was a trip in itself – a bit scary but I was given some happy juice via IV to help me through it. The doctor came and saw me a couple hours later and happily reported there were no blockages and my heart looks strong and healthy. I feel so blessed by that news. But…what the heck?
If it was a panic attack, then I really need to think more about my approaches on keeping myself calm. I have a full plate yes, but I’m no where near as stressed as I’d been in the past. It’s….a mystery.