Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Wonky heart

So I have not exactly kept it secret that I've had health issues lately, but I've never publicly laid out the story either. Why now? Well, honestly, mostly 'cause I am procrastinating, but also I thought it might help other people, women especially who have been through similar experiences.
So who am I (if you don't know), a just turned 40 yo, though at the time I was still clinging to my 30's . . .I'm thin, I exercise, I don't smoke, stress? Well, I have 2 children, a 'real' job and a building handmade jewelry business, so yes I have my share of stress.
April 12th, Monday. I came home from a normal day at work, my husband had picked the girls up from daycare and was already home. I was standing at the kitchen counter and thought, and then said, "huh, my chest hurts". It didn't hurt badly, just annoyingly, and kind of came and went all evening. I didn't think that much of it, I figured I pulled a muscle or something . . .
April 13th, woke up feeling kind of 'ick' and my work schedule was slow that day so I called out sick. Mid morning that annoying chest pain started up again, this time not really going away. By lunchtime, I finally called my doctors office to see if I could be seen, as soon as I mentioned chest pain, they transferred me to the nurses line, where I was told to go straight to the Emergency room after she asked me a few questions. Called husband, he came home from work and drove me there (feeling sure I was just being silly).
Next thing I know, I am in a hospital bed, hooked up to monitors with a cardiologist telling us that I had a very abnormal EKG that was consistent with a heart attack. Um, what?
They wanted to do a cardiac catheterization, which is a lovely procedure where they (under anesthesia) poke a hole in the artery in your leg so they can feed a catheter in to inject dye into the blood vessels to see if they are blocked, and if so then use a steint to open the blockage. Then they seal the artery in your leg with a collagen plug that is annoying for months to come.
We went ahead with it, and I woke up to be told that mine was completely normal. Well . . .good. Stayed in the hospital overnight, next day, still had chest pain, cardiologist said "I don't know what is causing the pain, but it is not your heart", ordered a CT scan of my chest . . .normal. Released me to go home.
Chest pain continued, came and went, one evening my Husband was coming home late from work and I had a tough time getting the kids to bed, chest pain worsened to the point where I called him 'cause I was nervous about it. While talking to him, suddenly my left arm, and left side of my face went all pins and needle-y. Back to the ER, waited 4 hours, and finally left against advice because it was 3am, and they were wanting to do a CT of my brain. I had a follow up appt. scheduled already for that morning with at my doctors office anyway, and I just wanted to go home.
About 6 hours later, I went to my doctors appt. where I saw a different doctor than usual. She had none of my records from the initial hospital visit, just the ones from the night before (where my EKG had been normal), and she pretty much suggested that I should "get more rest" and "take deep breaths", and that I should follow up with the doctor I usually see. Soonest appt? Four months.
Chest pain continued. A co-worker, very luckily, is friends with the head cardiologist at Michigan State University, and got me an appt with him. Well, after a multitude of tests, a consult with a cardiac surgeon and a few ongoing arguments with my insurance company, I was diagnosed with:
-Mitral valve prolapse (my whole family has it, no big surprise, and probably not the cause of anything)
-Myocardial bridging, one of the blood vessels in my heart runs kind of a wrong course from what it should do.
-Vasospastic or Variant Angina: this is where the blood vessels in the heart spasm and cause pain, it can also increase risk of heart attack and high blood pressure. My mother actually has the same thing.

Well, currently I am on my third medication, now on 4X the original dose, and I'm doing okay.
Moral of the LONG story? Don't ignore it when your body is telling you there is something wrong, and don't (women especially) let someone tell you it is all in your head, unless it is of course ;-).


Anonymous said...

Sorry for you doll! Thanks for sharing and for the advice!

SoleDeVita said...

All I can do, is to send You a HUGE (I mean really, really HUGE) virtual ((((HUG))))!
Thank you for sharing your story!
Made me to think about.. things..
Take Care! xox

Rebecca said...

Thank you, dear one, for taking the time to write out this story. It's an important one to tell... so much a part of your life over the past months but also a good thing to share with others who may shrug off annoying symptoms that could be warning signs. I'm glad to know these details as I've been concerned for you during since the spring. Glad the meds are doing what they're supposed to be doing, finally. And know that I will continue to send you good, healing thoughts!

Molly O'Bryon-Welpott said...

Thankyou for sharing this. I am sending to my good friend who is the picture of health, zumba instructor, I took her to the er, they said her ekg was normal and she needs to relax. But the pain had been so intense, I think they blew her off. You are brave and in my prayers now

Yvonne said...

Women, take note. Always listen to your body's warning signals. Wonky Jane, I need you to stay healthy. Please don't be offended, but the goats need us. I can't do it alone. ;0) Stay healthy sweetie! Thank you for sharing.

Rachel Lucie Johns said...

oh honey, I knew you'd been suffering, but had no idea how long and worrying it must have been for you.
You must have gone through hell (and your family)
So glad to hear you DID persevere, so that at least you are getting the meds and help you need.
big hug from across the sea xxx

3 squares said...

you have the biggest heart! no, i don't mean that literally. glad you didn't just take a few deep breaths and leave it at that. smart girl!


Sara said...

So sorry for your troubles! You are so strong. You're story will surely encourage other women! Thanks s much for sharing !

Jennifer said...

Wow. That was a powerful, gripping story. Glad you got some answers!!

Som's Studio said...

Wow! I had no idea! You are so correct on not ignoring what your body tries to say. Big hugs to you and take care.