Because no-one believes me …
I am at a customer’s home in Gilbertsville, grooming several dogs. Typically, when at the customer’s home, I am alone. They leave the door open for me, I go in and groom the dogs, and they come home to a sparkly clean and fresh dog!
I am about halfway finished with the last dog when my body suddenly does a very bizarre thing. I feel like a rush of cold runs from the top of my head to the bottoms of my feet. My left arm and left leg feel like lead and don’t want to move properly when I stand up. My heart starts racing and pounding in my chest.
OH MY GOSH … am I having a heart attack?
I quickly release to dog from the table (in case I pass out, I don’t want the dog to jump off the table and hang himself from the lead he’s attached to.) and dial 911 on my cell phone.
I describe my symptoms and I find my words slurring. They tell me to stay where I am and they’re sending an ambulance.
I call my husband and again, I find my mouth to be full of cotton balls and my words hard to form and speak clearly. I am also feeling very dizzy and the room seems to be spinning off to the right.
My customer’s teenage daughter is home today, so I fill her in on an ambulance coming to get me and she looks ready to cry.
Oh my goodness.
The ambulance and a police officer arrive and take me to the hospital (Pottstown Memorial). On the way there they are monitoring my vitals and I hear someone say, “Blood Pressure 200 over 120. Pulse 140.”
Well now, that can’t be good.
Tears well up in my eyes and I begin to worry.
The “coldness attack” has passed but now I’m in a full blown panic attack.
At the hospital they do
- an EKG (perfectly fine)
- Run blood work for a heart attack (perfectly fine)
- Run blood work for a stroke (perfectly fine)
- Do an MRI on my brain (perfectly fine)
- Run a million other tests for god-knows-what (perfectly fine)
Young doctor comes in and scares the beejeezus out of me by saying that although all the bloodwork tests, heart tests and stroke tests came back perfectly fine, it does not mean I am not having a stroke and he wants me to stay over night for observation because I could die.
YES! He said that to me … “You could die!”
Uh, no … not staying here over night. Especially because (now) I feel perfectly fine.
I call my husband who drives over an hour to come and get me from the hospital because they will not allow me to call a cab to leave. They insist, right until I actually walk out the door that I have to stay because I could die and they need to observe me. The young doctor is convinced I am having mini-strokes and a huge one is on it’s way.
I’m not convinced that he’s right and I leave (and I’m perfectly fine) My husband drives me back to my customer’s home. I finish grooming her last dog and then drive myself home.
I am driving to Easton to do grooming for the day when I am struck by a rush of coldness, quickly followed by vertigo and the road in front of me tips to the right. I check my mirrors, which have gone all squiggly and I pull off the highway.
I sit there a couple minutes and my heart is pounding and my chest is heavy and painful and I’m having trouble catching a good breath.
Stress test on my heart, everything is A-OK. So what is causing these dizzy spells, crazy flashes of adrenaline and my blood pressure going up and down and never staying stable? Now we start the fun times.
Sent to a Kidney Specialist. Kidneys are fine, but lo and behold, there is a mass on the right adrenal gland. Better have that checked out…and in the meantime, let’s also try some drugs to regulate your blood pressure. I explained I had been that route already and nothing worked for more than two months then my blood pressure would start fluctuating again. He didn’t care, “Here, take these meds.”
Sent to an Endocrinologist. Did tests on everything from vitamins, metabolics, all the hormones in my system and everything came back middle of the road. Except the salts were a little low on the scale and the potassium was a little high on the scale. Still within normals, but not mid-road like everything else. Tested the adrenal glans siz ways to Christmas and determined that it’s a mass I was probably born with and is not at all affecting anything in my system because all my hormone levels are normal. Including my “female” hormones, so I have not entered into menopause yet.
April 2014 – major attack while driving which sent me to the side of the road in fear for my life. Called an ambulance. Blood pressure through the roof (I am on blood pressure medicine at this time.) Heart rate through the roof. Took me to the hospital and they tested me for …
- Heart attack – NOPE, EKG is fine and blood tests are fine.
- Stroke – NOPE, CAT scan of head indicates everything is fine and I’ve never had a stroke in the past.
Diagnosis? Panic attack.
WHAT???? I’m just driving along, on my way to a customer and I had a panic attack for no reason. Your diagnosis sucks.
Psychologist comes in to talk to me and said that physical pain can cause the body to induce a painc attack. Asked me if I was in any pain.
Why, yes I am – every day – every minute of every day. Stupid asshole that rear-ended me (read that story here) damaged my neck and back and I have constant pain. All the time.
Head doctor asks if I take anything for the pain.
Why, no I don’t. Occasionally I hit on some Aleve, when it’s too bad, and when I ride I always down tylenol but the fist full.
He gives me a prescription for Tramadol, tells me to follow up with my family doctor and sends me home.
WAIT!!!! Why did my blood pressure shoot through the roof? Why did my body feel like it was flooding with hot oil? Why was I shaking like a leaf and barely able to talk when I called 911? Why aren’t you fixing me????
Two attacks, two days in a row. Tramadol does not fix it.
I’m still complaining to my doctor, at my annual wellness check.
Hey, I still have this constant burping. I still have wild fluctuations in my blood pressure. I still have moments of “panic attacks”. I still have problems with my back and my neck.
My family doctor renews my prescription for Tramadol.
I had a good run of riding competition in 2015. For the most part, my body behaved itself and I was able to compete, and do it well. Then at the end of the season, I started having a different set of issues.
I had a very bad scare, thought I was dying. Went to the hospital. They did tests and said I wasn’t having a heart attack or stroke but they diagnosed me with Angina. Mostly because this is the third time I’ve been in for this same reason.
Is this another phantom diagnosis?
My best friend is diagnosed with heart arrhythmia and she’s hospitalized. They blame it on her smoking and she quits. To help her out, I cut way back on smoking and take up e-cigs. Well, that didn’t last long because apparently the scar tissue in my lungs from the pneumonia I had in January 1996 doesn’t like the vapor from the e-cig. So, I just cut way way back on smoking.
I am down to less than half a pack of cigarettes a day, my girl friend is still having to go to the hospital and have her heart shocked back into a regular beat. This scares the piss out of me. Especially because I have started coughing – a lot – and there is tons of clear flem when I cough. And my chest has started hurting. Like all the time.
Hot flashes? Am I having hot flashes? I feel like I have a fever, break into a sweat and then run chilly. Maybe I am having fevers. And the burps have become very painful and are causing me a lot of grief. And now I have a constant cough with lots of clear flem coming up.
My family doctor tells me it is because I have cut back on smoking and the cilia in my lungs are coming back to life.
I don’t believe him. I ask for a chest x-ray to rule out bronchitis (or worse)
He rolls his eyes but complies. Chest x-ray comes back as perfectly normal.
Then where the hell is all this clear flem coming from. I kid you not when I tell you I am coughing up handfuls of this stuff. Clear, foamy flem. Constantly. It sucks.
My doctor prescribes Lorazepam for me.
What is that?
An anti-anxiety drug.
Oh, so now I’m insane.
Chest pain is still with me, on a pretty regular basis. A low lying, achey kind of pain that doesn’t go away no matter what I do.
Burping is at an all time record making. Marc wants to enter me into burping contests so I can win prize money. I have episodes of “panic attacks and angina” and I think I am having hot flashes on top of everything else that is going on.
Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about menopause stuff?
Went to the hospital. Thought I was having a heart attack. Chest hurt, head hurt, ears buzzing, blood pressure through the roof. Everything checked out A-OK. They continue to tell me I have angina. I have read about angina. It’s not funny. It can lead to heart failure.
They gave me morphine.
MORPHINE: My eyes couldn’t focus, my body felt like it had left the bed and was floating around in the air, I couldn’t think. I DID NOT LIKE THIS. Blood pressure dropped like a stone and my heart rate dropped like a stone.
They sent me home.
TWO DAYS LATER: Routine follow up with my family doctor. Blood pressure very low recently. Doctor likes that. I don’t, I have episodes of dizziness when I do anything remotely physical. I told him I was tired of burping all the time could I have a referral to a gasto doctor.
He rolled his eyes and gave me a referral.
Gastro doctor ran a bunch of blood work and sent me for an ultrasound. Everything was perfectly normal EXCEPT they found that dreaded mass on my adrenal gland. The lady spent 5 minutes on my stomach, 5 minutes on my gall bladder, 5 minutes on my liver and 20 minutes on that dame adrenal gland. I told her they had already found it once but she wanted to make sure there were no changes.
Gastro doctor tells me he wants to do an endoscopy because the ultrasound showed everything was A-OK.
Yes, still chest pains.
Yes, still burping.
Yes, still having panic attacks
No, not taking Tramadol or Lorazepam.
Endoscopy shows irritation in the esophagus and parts of the stomach so they do biopsies. No cancer but I do have H-Pylori.
What is that?
A bacteria that lives underneath the stomach lining and eats away at your stomach wall causing ulcers and cancer.
They treat me for the H-Pylori ($800 for the drugs) Basically, three different antibiotics, taken four times a day – and a PPI to reduce stomach acid so the antibiotic can get under the stomach lining and kill the H-Pylori bacteria.
Great. They killed EVERYTHING in my system.
Didn’t solve the chest pain.
Didn’t solve the burping.
Didn’t solve the panic attacks or vertigo.
June and July 2016
Chest pain still a constant and now, when I eat or drink, my stomach feels like it’s burning. Still coughing up tons of clear foamy flem. Went to a follow up with the gastro doctor and they gave me to a PA – FUCK THE PA – he couldn’t even answer my questions. I asked him about the burning when I eat, he said, “Oh your stomach is going to be upset for a while after the H-Pylori treatment.” Asked about the burping still going on. “Oh, your stomach will take a while to heal.” Asked him about GORD, which is pulminary disorders from having acid reflux and he says “You don’t have acid reflux”
WHY AM I TALKING TO A PA AND NOT TO MY DOCTOR?
And they charged me $100 for that visit.
And sent me for a stool sample to see if the H-Pylori is all gone.
No-one has ever called me to tell me the results of this lab test.
Went on a vacation to Las Vegas and had a wonderful time (read story here) but had an episode that scared the crap out of me. Sitting and having a good time with Marc, I suddenly had a terrible chest pain, blooming out across my chest and into my left shoulder. Soon my left arm was tingling and feeling very wierd and funky. Then I broke into a drenching sweat. I’m sitting in a very well cooled air conditioned room, there is no reason to be sweating like this. Buckets running off of me.
It was very scary.
I didn’t really tell Marc about it. We’re on vacation and I am ot going to upset the apple cart.
Forty-fve minutes it passed.
When I got home, I called my family doctor and asked for a referral to a cardi-doctor. Time to have these chest pains checked out.
CARDIO doctor says my EKG is fine and all my bloodwork is fine and he doesn’t think I am having any kind of heart issue but he’s scheduling me for (yet another) stress test and after that I have to wear a heart monitor for 24 hours so they can see what my heart is doing.
Great. And don’t get it wet, they tell me. So no grooming for that 24 hours.
I passed my stress test. Yes, I have approximately 50% blockage in my right heart artery but my heart is not stressed at all. in fact, they said that I was physically very fit and lasted much longer on the tread mill at a much faster pace than they had anticipated.
And the Holter 24 hour monitor showed that out of 14,000 heart beats, I had 236 irregular beats. That’s less that 1%. He told me he wished all his patients had hearts like mine. He did explain how I might be feeling when I have an irregular heartbeat episode. He did say that they came in bursts of 8 to 10. He said I could feel like my chest is swelling and thumping and might even get dizzy or a rush.
Sigh. Yes, I do get all those symptoms.
So now back to the gastro doctor. He suspects the chest and stomach pain is likely due to excess acid. I said, “No!” because it’s never food related. Today I can eat 50 red hot chilis with nothing and tomorrow I eat a vanilla bean and die. He recommended that I take Pepcid-AD.
October 2016: I get my very first colonoscopy.
I am very thankful never to go through THIS again. One day of no food.
WHAT???? I eat every hour. I am a grazer. What do you mean no food?
Jello and broth and water and that’s all.
I’m gonna die.
And I have to drink this horrid fluid, 1/2 gallon in 1/2 hour at 6:00 pm … then wake up and drink 1/2 gallon in 1/2 hour at 2:00 am.
And live in the bathroom. I will spare you the gory details, although it was rather amazing to see the bright florescent yellow liquid coming from my body after the second go of the nasty tasting liquid. I was entranced by the color!
Then, they found a tumor and a tear in my colon. I have pictures!
He repaired the tear and removed the tumor. He left a metal clamp in my colon on the area where he removed the tumor. Said if I needed an emergency MRI in the next 30 days to let them know it was in there because it would have to be manually removed before doing an MRI. In the meantime, it should fall out on its own in the next 30 days.
He did say that he could tell I live a nice healthy eating lifestyle (I did *NOT* tell him I live on french fries). He said that my colon looked awesome and young, like a person in their 30’s. He said it could only look like that if I was eating a lot of veggies and fruits (which I do, but I also eat a lot of french fries)
Gee, that’s all nice but is that related to my other symptoms?
Now what, coach? Back to the drawing board.