Chest pain is not always heart-related

chest-pain

BUT CARDIAC CAUSES MUST BE RULED OUT FIRST –  THEY CAN BE FATAL

Your brain, the precious thing that makes you, YOU, cannot function without oxygen for more than a tiny number of minutes. After which, if it doesn’t get that oxygen, you are no longer YOU, even if you survive.

Get that through your head.

Before you read what follows. And remember it.

The Perfect Storm

I’ve hesitated to write this post all week because ‘The Perfect Storm’ is never apparent except in hindsight. And I’ve been feeling like crap.

As a result of the CFS I live with, you can consider me immuno-compromised all the time. Sometimes it helps to have my immune system cranked up all the time – I fight off many things with a shorter period of malaise than many people. But when it gets overwhelmed, it REALLY gets overwhelmed.

I had been coughing, as a result of first one virus, and then, probably another (probably caught from husband who thought he had caught it from me – and didn’t take precautions – and probably gave already-weakened me the horrible virus he picked up somewhere else), since around Nov. 1, 2016. Sometimes very violent coughing. Painful coughing. But not chest pain. Remember that. Not chest pain.

And yes, I had seen at least four doctors (including mine twice), had a chest X-ray, antibiotics, steroids, and an inhaler of albuterol. My lungs had been listened to carefully, and pronounced good, then diagnosed as bronchitis, then diagnosed as ‘tight’ (whatever that means).

I had the feeling that if I could just STOP COUGHING for a while, everything could get better. I really hope so – I’ve now managed to not cough for two days.

More scary symptoms added – caused by cough? Or revealed by cough?

Older white female, heavy, sick a long time, not very mobile, is not a good place to start anything from.

This is where things get a bit fuzzy. I don’t know when the extra shortness of breath started – because I didn’t record it. I just took my time climbing up the 33 steps from the crypt of the Princeton U. Chapel where I sing on Sundays with a tiny Catholic choir. Was it just the CFS lack of energy? Or was it something new? And was it a result of the coughing, or something made worse by the coughing? I honestly don’t know.

But shortness of breath is a symptom that shouldn’t be ignored if it gets worse. Nor should the tightness in the chest that went with it. If you wonder how I managed singing with the cough going on, it wasn’t continuous, I took over-the-counter meds to control it (paying for their help with the extra fuzziness that hits my brain as my body clears out the meds), and I really like to sing, and there was, accidentally, a long hiatus between the last time we sang in December (the 17th) and the first time I made it in February (the 5th). Vacation, the choir director canceling because he thought there wouldn’t be many people there, and a couple times I was too sick to go and didn’t want to cough on my choirmates. So, a big gap – during which I coughed a lot.

So I sang last Sunday. And noticed things were not good in the pain department, so I took the steps extra slowly.

And then, that night, the first trigger?

Triggers for chest pain

Are not always obvious. In retrospect only, the chest pain flare – significant and scary – Sunday evening was set off by me having a chocolate protein shake. Silly, right? I had had eggs for breakfast, so I decided to have my usual shake at night. I make it with lots of ice, and it’s very close to a milkshake (okay, for someone who doesn’t eat carbs if possible), cold and frosty and tasty.

And sometime shortly after I finished it, a wave of chest pain that stopped me short, raised my blood pressure, and scared the heck out of me – but slowly resolved, leaving me shaking and wondering whether I should be doing something. But you know what Sunday night after the Superbowl must be like at the ER, and if you’re not absolutely sure you should be going to the ER – after all, the pain resolved, right? – you pretend it wasn’t so bad and go to bed. Just to be sure, I took my blood pressure, which was high but came down slowly to almost normal.

That’s the place at which many fatalities happen, and yes, I’m perfectly aware of that.

The next morning I called the cardiologist’s office, and moved my appointment from Feb. 23rd to last Wednesday because they had an opening. The cardiologist was my primary’s idea BECAUSE SHE THOUGHT SHE HEARD A MURMUR – almost a year ago – and I had finally gone to see her, had had the recommended echocardiogram and ultrasound of the carotids, and had that appointment on the 23rd to get the results (which turned out not to be significant, or they would have made me come in). I was being reasonable.

The cardiologist’s nurse whom I was talking to – and had told about the spasms which resolved – concluded with, “If you have any significant symptoms, head to the ER.”

I hung up after those words.

On the cusp here.

Except that, while I was talking to her, I was having my morning protein shake – same as usual, full of ice, I was still coughing, and I drank it at normal speed, not really paying attention.

And in all this remember that I’m operating at much reduced brain speed – because of that infernal and exhausting coughing that just won’t go away completely. I haven’t, at this point, written fiction in weeks – because that requires that all the indicators align perfectly, and I haven’t had that in weeks. We CFS types call it brain fog.

And then it happened: decision time

An unbelievable wave of pain hits me in the chest.

Husband frantically puts on clothes, intending to drive me to the local hospital (in retrospect, I should have let him – they did nothing IN the ambulance), but I lie down on the living room floor when faced with the prospect of walking all the way out to the car, and make him call 911.

I’m coherent enough to walk him through FINDING a non-enteric-coated full size aspirin tablet (he had brough me four of the baby coated ones, and I though they might take too long to dissolve), as the dispatcher said to take. The people who make it first are the firemen – I guess they had nothing to do. They can’t do anything, and they don’t transport, but there they were. To be with us (I suppose they have CPR training) until the EMTs get there. To help me down the seven steps to the front hall (at which point they let me walk myself to the downstairs bathroom just fine – should have taken that as a sign).

The EMTs get there, transport to hospital – without doing a thing IN the ambulance except, as we practically pulled up to the hospital, rolling out the oxygen tubing you see on TV going into the nostrils – which was then on my head for less than 3 minutes. Revenue enhancement? The things you think about!

The chest hurts a lot, but it is, like Sunday night, slowly resolving. The BP has been high, but is coming down. I am trying hard to calm my breathing and heart beat.

At this point you are as committed as if you jumped out of a plane

NOBODY in this whole system can send you home now (and you’re still terrified anyway – chest pain really hurts).

Every bit of exertion IN the hospital sets off the waves to some extent. I duly report this.

I won’t bore you with the rest of the day, the admission to the hospital, the doctor from the cardiologist’s other office who tells me my symptoms are indicative of 90-95% blockage somewhere. And scares the hell out of me. And orders drugs which I later, when they are offered in the hospital that night, I decide can’t possibly help in one day, and I refuse to take drugs without discussing them thoroughly with MY cardiologist and bringing up the whole CFS thing (this was the statin; I think I took the aspirin).

By the way, if it had been cardiac, taking the statin right away is important (said MY cardiologist, but I still don’t see how – she said it prevents even more damage to the heart – must look that up).

And the train wreck continues (as well as the pain, enhanced by fear)

You can probably see where this is headed, but, after a totally miserable night on a hospital bed after being in an even worse, if possible, ER bed all day, with all other indignities not being related here, they haul me off by ambulance the next morning to the cath lab at St. Mary’s in another state (PA), and finally, after a circus of paperwork and other activity, actually go in and LOOK at the state of my arteries, etc., with the view to saving my life by stenting those presumed 95% blockages.

Only to find nothing major (though there are the beginnings of plaque they don’t like), and SEND ME HOME. No stents. No hospital stay. NO prescriptions.

With no one caring about the, you know, actual CHEST PAIN.

Which is the same theme when we see the cardiologist the next day, who now wants to treat me as if I’d come in for cardiac reasons (instead of the benign Level 1 heart murmur which tests show is accompanied by minor calcification) – and start me on meds: no, nothing important wrong, but you really should start taking these heavy-duty drugs which are known to cause significant muscle pain, especially in the CFS population, and memory problems in many (c’mon now – I have TWO brain cells left, and can’t afford to lose them).

No, the drugs don’t lower cholesterol.

No, the drugs don’t REVERSE plaque buildup. Nothing, apparently, nothing chemical can do that.

No discussion of alternate methods of lowering cholesterol (like diet, my only real option as exercise isn’t possible – can’t go aerobic because the body can’t produce energy aerobically).

The end? The summary? The conclusions?

  1. If your chest hurts enough, or worries you enough, you HAVE TO GO TO THE ER. Period. You don’t belong at your doctor’s office, or even at urgent care – they don’t have the facilities should it be, you know, a heart attack. Only a hospital does. I did everything right. At the ER they take blood three times, 8 hours apart or so, and they look for certain cardiac enzymes to be present, to indicate you may have had a heart attack. But this takes a while. Meanwhile, they treat you as if. They have to.
  2. It may NOT be cardiac. Some 23% of chest pain is NOT cardiac OR pulmonary. It might be esophageal spasms, or intercostal muscle spasms (the intercostal muscles between your ribs pull air in and push it out, and they were already in revolt from the coughing. Probably). The pulmonary pain can be separated out a bit, but may not keep you from a full cario workup. I don’t know about that one. The pain/spasms could be chronic or acute, or getting there – you won’t know until analyzing all the evidence later.
  3. I ended up getting a heart catheterization, the gold standard for actually LOOKING, which might have taken a lot longer otherwise – but might also have never been done, especially if the pain resolved soon enough AFTER THE COUGHING stopped. So I have the baseline I, as a PWC (person with CFS) would not be able to get with a treadmill stress test (testing to exhaustion has horrible effects on PWCs; I won’t do it) or chemical stress test (same effects on PWCs; won’t do that either). But it didn’t have to be the whole ambulance/ER/cath lab emergency experience. IF the chest pain hadn’t stopped, I would probably have had the test eventually.
  4. If the doctor you see in the ER gives you meds he says you should take, take them. I did with the ER doc’s meds (I think). It was later, in the hospital bed alone all night (they slap a heart monitor on you and then only come if you call) when I decided not to take the meds the over-zealous cardiologist ordered. 50/50 on that one.
  5. It is possible (maybe) to stop your own coughing – IF it’s on the way out anyway, and you take it very easy, and use the OTC meds (and the cough syrup with codeine I was prescribed at one point in those 3+ months), but it’s a full-time job, and I may only have been fooling myself. By my husband’s symptoms – he who gave me the second virus – I had expected to be done with the coughing by this Wednesday. It happened/I forced it to stop on Thursday by fighting back with every cough attempt. Maybe my yoga breathing helped a bit. I couldn’t do it before, so maybe that’s also completely bogus.
  6. Don’t get sick. And even if you think someone else’s illness is the same as you have, it is STILL possible to hand it back and forth – so keep up with the precautions, don’t get near other sick people, wash your hands a lot… Everything spouse didn’t do.
  7. Try not to have overlapping illnesses. It messes up the diagnoses.
  8. Don’t be stupid – this was a royal pain, a huge expense, and a possibly wasted effort – and it was still the right thing to do.
  9. You may feel like an idiot when it turns out your heart is fine. I did. But you shouldn’t. They really can’t tell, and you really need to know, and you can’t take that chance. And you are the only one who can decide: What’s happening isn’t right, for me. Unless, of course, you’re passed out on the floor and trusting someone else will make the right call.
  10. I am SO glad it is over (or getting there).

Share your own happy experiences in the comments. I’ll listen. Might learn something.

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35 thoughts on “Chest pain is not always heart-related

    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      It was an adventure I had not planned – and I’m still getting the chest pain, especially on exertion – but KNOWING it isn’t cardiac allows me to take some ibuprofen and a muscle relaxant, and get some sleep without worrying.

      A bit more stress than my usual week (introverts do NOT do well when almost every person they meet is 1) new, and 2) about to do something to them they have to put up with. MOST of the people were lovely. One particular one screamed at me, literally, several times and screamed at a nurse NOT to help me. I will treasure THAT experience.

      You never know when the next one will pop up, so the stress level stays pretty high, but the rest was reasonable, gave me results I’m happy to have, and is over. Fortunately, stress does not create blockages where there are none. Wonder if it sets off heart attacks under the right conditions; my guess on that is yes.

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  1. joey

    Having experienced two panic attacks that led me to the ER, I can relate to the ‘as if’ parts and the scary bit. I did feel a bit dumb, but in truth, I realize that people with anxiety disorder do sometimes have heart attacks like the rest of the non-anxious population, and dismissing every single thing as anxiety is not an effective treatment of an actual cardiac episode.
    It’s been a long time now, but I can still remember, especially when reading your story.
    I had a bad cough for almost a month last fall, and I had all sorts of accompanying pains and spasms to go along with it. It only got better when, as you wrote, I committed to the second job of medicating that cough. :/ I’m glad you’re breathing better now.
    I am so glad you’re as alright as you should be and I appreciate you sharing this post.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Glad to hear from you, Joey – sorry that panic attacks sent you to the ER. The whole thing of mine was probably complicated by that, but I don’t think I was having anxiety or panic BEFORE the pain – I was just sitting here drinking my shake.

      if they think that’s a cause of unnecessary trips, they’re going to have to find some way to measure it – or find a medication which would help panic but not a heart attack.

      I can’t tell; I can only tell it was painful.

      This winter has had a lot more virus coughs – but mine went especially long because of getting the second one. The muscles are still tired – I’ve been doing stairs very slowly to not set off the horrible feeling.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Thanks!

      I’ve only coughed once today (it snuck up on me), and I’m hoping the pain, etc., will stay down – and this is all behind me.

      I learned a lot, about my heart and coughing, and hope the next one won’t sneak up on me. What I also figured out is that the doctors don’t coordinate unless you make them – my primary doctor could have done something, or even warned me?

      I hadn’t heard of putting yourself in such a state by coughing – and having it mimic a heart attack when triggered. Weird.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Pretty sure my post analysis will prove to be right. It’s only day 3 of no coughing, and the adrenaline triggered a smaller pain attack, but I’ll know in a week or so: cold-triggered spasms in throat and muscles exhausted from coughing.

      That’s why I posted – might help someone else, though I feel a bit the fool.

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      1. acflory

        It’s great that you’ve posted about your experience because it’s something we can all relate to and understand. Clinical definitions and explanations can often be more confusing than enlightening.

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        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          I’m still digging into the evidence, and that for statins is very weak. I’m pretty sure now I won’t even try them.

          Just make sure, IF you take them, you get that liver enzymes test at 6 weeks – and I’m pretty sure I’d fail that, anyway, because I had hepatitis already, and have trouble even clearing my own adrenaline out of my system – which is why I TRY to keep the emotions down, and is probably why I’m having a hard time recovering, since the emotions and adrenaline have been on the tallest roller coaster ride in the world. I’m wiped.

          But, yes – I share this stuff, even if I look stupid or uninformed – because it may help someone who reads it make a better decision.

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        2. acflory

          -knock on wood- I’m pretty healthy and don’t have to take anything but there’s a lot of autoimmune issues in the extended family – lots of asthma, ulcerative collitis, MS, type 1 diabetes – so I understand how medications can interact and counteract, making things worse long term rather than better. Prednislone is a drug that I absolutely hate because of its side effects and the fact your body can come to rely on it [while your own adrenal gland atrophies].
          Anyway, I’ll keep your experience in mind for the future.

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        3. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          Hope you don’t need my experience! It wasn’t much fun, people kept telling us very different things, and I never felt I was being given options. No informed consent going on when one doctor tells you you’re probably 95% blocked! And then it turns out nowhere needed stenting. Basically, I’m boring medically.

          Hope the financial side isn’t too horrible: nobody ever talked about Medicare and insurance and said ‘insurance won’t pay for it.’

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        4. acflory

          -shiver- We have private hospital insurance thanks to some chronic conditions and my small brush with cancer, but even without that we’d get medical care thanks to our Medicare. Can’t imagine the horror of being sick and knowing you can’t afford to get better. 😦

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        5. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          I hope we are not going to get hit with a huge bill from this little escapade – I didn’t make the decision to go for catheterization – the cardiologist did. Etc.

          People all over the world have little medical care – we need to expand coverage, even in the US, where there are many uninsured people.

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        6. acflory

          Yeah, I’m not that impressed with private industry when it comes to questions of life and death. 😦 I’d hate to have my life hinge upon the profit margin of a large corporation.

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        7. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          You said you had some private insurance – but aren’t you in Australia, with universal health coverage?

          Insurance may always be a battle with pharmacological companies ahd healthcare, but I’m not sure a single payment system, with the government in charge, works completely either. The governments are always trying to cut the budget.

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        8. acflory

          We have Medicare as a universal safety net, plus we have private health insurance which we are ‘strongly’ encouraged to take up by the age of 30. To sweeten that unpleasant deal, the govt. pays 30% of the premiums.
          To be honest, I hate that aspect of our health care. I hate being forced to do anything, and I hate the idea that our taxes are going to make insurance companies richer. It just seems like a con to me.
          Anyway, the universal health care safety net will pay the majority of my doctor’s bills, about 1/2 of a specialist’s bill, free bed in a public hospital [assuming I can get in] and a small percentage of the cost of a bed in a private hospital.
          If you have an accident, the best hospitals are the public ones because they are teaching hospitals so you’ll get instant, highly skilled care. For non accidents though, the waiting lists can stretch for years so some kind of basic private hospital is necessary.
          The two systems are meant to complement each other but if I didn’t have a pre-existing condition I’d probably not bother with private hospital insurance.
          Apologies for the long explanation.

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        9. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          Thanks for your long, thoughtful answer.

          I find it interesting that the UK and Canada have government-paid health care – but have a parallel system of private payment next to it. Maybe it’s better that way, but it is NOT an endorsement of the wonderfulness of paying for things you need twice – through taxes, and then again to get in fast enough to make sense.

          At yet, as a retired person in the States, that’s partly what I have: a double system. Medicare covers a bunch of things, and then we pay for the rest privately. But I rarely have to wait if I need care.

          I remember hearing that Canadians had to wait a year for a non-emergency MRI – for something my daughter got the next day when she damaged her ankle.

          The paperwork is unbelievable, though. Is it the same there?

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        10. acflory

          I’m Australian, but it sounds as if the UK and Canada have something similar. As I only have basic hospital insurance, I pay for all diagnostic procedures and get a partial refund from Medicare. I’m still out of pocket but it’s doable. And there’s no waiting. If I were dead broke though, it would be a different matter. I guess then, I’d have to go through the public hospital system and I’m sure there’d be a wait there.
          I’ll be honest, the Liberals [our version of your Republicans] would love to push some of the burden of healthcare onto the private sector, but we are all terrified of ending up with something similar to your system. We don’t want healthcare to be at the whim of a company whose sole purpose is to make a profit for shareholders. We are seeing the dark side of privatisation with our energy system right now. Companies are gaming the system for profit and when an emergency hits, people are left without power. I won’t waffle on about Capitalist theory except to say that it needs competition and the bigger the company, the less the competition.
          I’m sure US citizens think we’re all nanny states but that’s how we think it /should/ be. -shrug- Cultural divide?

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  2. Juanita Thatcher

    I am so glad it’s over and done with too. You really did need to go through all that just to be sure, but what an ordeal. I hope you get a lot of quality rest now so you can recover.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I had to think about the eating, too, but it did NOT occur to me until afterward that both serious pain attacks had been precipitated by the same COLD bolus going down my throat in a short period. You can bet I’ve been VERY careful since!

      Everything’s connected – and I think half of my systems – lungs AND muscles AND esophagus – were on hair triggers from the incessant and often exaggerated coughing.

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  3. Marsha Umek

    As you know, I can’t take statins. I do have esophageal spasms and have been in the Emergency Chest Pain Unit twice because of them. I had to what I had eaten or taken differently that could have caused them. Usually it is anything with codeine or acidic juices, fruits, etc. Then I finally figured it out. Both times, I had been on prednisone and that was the only thing I had done differently. I take dicyclomine for spasms, also Protonix for GERDS and Sucralfate to prevent ulcers. Even with all that, I still occasionally get spasms. Orange juice I can drink once in a while, but too much will cause spasms. They actually feel exactly like a heart attack. i had unusual symptoms prior to the heart attack, mostly indigestion, spasms, shortness of breath, pain in the middle of my back, gallbladder type pain, nausea and overall tiredness. The day of the heart attack, I had nausea and the gallbladder type pain. Then suddenly, it felt like someone there an axe right into the middle of my chest. I almost blacked out, but did some deep breathing and remained concious. I knew then that I was in trouble. My daughter was with me because school had not started yet and she called the Paramedics. Our paramedics are fully trained to treat heart attacks with drugs, intubation, etc. They are required to have Advanced Cardiac Life Support and have a standing protocol for treatment. I knew them personally since I had once been an EMT and as a nurse. I was well taken care of by the people I worked with daily and was transferred by helicopter to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC where I now live. I had some of the best cardiac physicians in the world treating me. I received two stints in my right main coronary. I had a complete blockage and also third degree heart block. I had 17% of heart muscle damage and some memory loss due to loss of oxygen. I had been doing deep breathing all morning due to nausea and I think that helped a lot when I wasn’t getting enough oxygen. Always go to the ER when having chest pain, pain in the neck and jaw, sweating, nausea, shortness of breath and extreme fatigue. It may be nothing, but it could be a heart attack. They always tell me not to feel like I have wasted their time. It is better to be safe than dead. Most women die when they have their first heart attack. 60% die within a year after surviving one because women are treated differently than men. We are considered hysterical and hypochondriacs. Never let an ER doctor treat you that way. Demand to see a cardiologist even if you have to threaten a law suit. It’s you life. Don’t lose it. I am surprised that you don’t have paramedices instead of EMTs. I am from a small town and even they have an all Paramedic EMS.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Thank you for your story.

      I actually don’t know what the certification of the people who came in the ambulance was – you don’t ask to see it, and they got me to the hospital more or less efficiently.

      I did wonder that they seemed more blase about it than I would have thought, and didn’t even use oxygen with any alacrity.

      Maybe they’ve seen too many people who are NOT having a heart attack – but they were pleasant, didn’t say anything, and got me there. Next time I’ll let the husband take me – we would have been there sooner, and I could have leaned on him (as I though later). Live and learn.

      I did NOT have the symptoms you had. If I had, I would have gotten there much faster. It was just the high BP and and the stress and the awful pain – much more than before.

      I know about women being different, and getting treated wrong, so I went. It is better to sort it out at the hospital.

      But what I didn’t realize was that some people would minimize the symptoms and the cardiologist from mine’s practice would exaggerate them, to the point where I really felt I was making decisions based on nothing.

      And your statistics – of most women dying after their first heart attack – is always before my mind, for some reason.

      As for the rest, I’m always extremely fatigued, had SOME pain in jaw – but no sweating or nausea, and some shortness of breath – how was I supposed to figure out what was relevant?

      The last thing I wanted to do was to go to the ER. I went because I should go. I am not a hypochondriac, but would rather not die of something preventable!

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  4. marianallen

    After my experience with anaphylactic shock, I went to the ER twice with what I thought were heart attacks but turned out to be panic attacks. I felt really stupid after the second visit, and the ER folks contributed greatly to that feeling. They made me feel like I had Munchhausen’s syndrome or something. I take Lexapro now for anxiety/depression, and it’s working — mostly.

    Sure glad you’re okay!

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      You’d really feel stupid if your airways closed!

      Panic is real – and can actually stop your heart. Hope you have an epi-pen and the pepsidAC/prednisone/benadryl combination available instantly in your purse. It helps to try that first, once you find out.

      Getting some prednisone is the hard part, but sometimes your doctor can prescribe. I have accummulated a few doses, and have everything clearly labeled in my purse – AND it saved my DAUGHTER from a huge reaction to cephtan (?) while we got her to urgent care.

      Doc there said I’d used the right things – and it took them a WEEK to get her antibiotic reaction down to normal from the antibiotics THEY prescribed.

      Now we know that she of the sensitive skin can’t have medicines with ‘skin rash’ as a potential side effect unless everything else has been tried first, and she is carefully watched. Scary – throats closing are just as scary as chest pain, and just as quickly deadly.

      3 minutes for your brain with no oxygen.

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        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          I’m avoiding all kinds of things – just to be safe. But I think I only have three food intolerances or allergies and one overreaction to ephinephrine.

          But this past year or so seems to have brought me face to face with how short the time is when something goes really wrong. Sigh.

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        2. marianallen

          I hear that. Fortunately — or, perhaps, sadly — I’m more afraid of life than of death. Still, I do all I can to keep going. Mom needs me, for one. And, perhaps stupidly, there’s always hope, isn’t there?

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        3. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          Have to work on that one. However, we have current examples of a lot of people with the least bit of self-doubt – and I don’t want to be like that.

          I LIKE that I question everything. Even if I have to apologize to those whose motives I may have misunderstood.

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  5. juliabarrett

    Sounds really scary, Alicia. It’s true, chest pain is not always heart-related but better safe than sorry. Always. Hope you are well soon.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      If I’d JUST had a chance to be cough-free for a couple of days (more than 3, apparently, given the last three), I might have avoided most of the craziness. I did the ‘right thing’, had problems with spouse over it (he wants me to read all the search results he sent me in an email the very day I told him I needed time to process, and was NOT ready for input).

      Statins have real problems and their effectiveness is being challenged ANYWAY, but the cardiologists still push them. I’ve read that 60% of people who start statins are off them before year’s end because of side effects. I will still read – but I didn’t need it dumped on me when the stress keeps setting off chest pain, fortunately of lowering intensity, but enough to make me stop talking again – and I’m a relatively calm person.

      Then I find out that the reason the cardiologist wants me to ‘make an appointment six weeks after you start taking them’ is because – and she did NOT say – they won’t know if it affects your liver until you’ve tried it for six weeks.

      My liver is already compromised. I had hepatitis as a kid in Mexico, have enormous trouble clearing ALL meds and adrenaline from my system already, and my pain specialist already doesn’t want me on the ONLY pain med which has ever helped (Celebrex) because HE’S worried about my liver. The hoops I had to jump through already are more than enough – he won’t prescribe unless I do bloodwork.

      I may have to, but right now I CAN’T.

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