Friday, June 24, 2011

Highs and Lows Part 2 – Take Care

I will be the first to admit I do not take care of myself.  I am overweight and don’t exercise.  I have no clue how to fit it into my day to be honest.  Five years ago I was working out with a trainer, could run up and down stairs and do a lot of sit ups.  When I had to tighten up the budget and let my trainer go she showed me all the ways I could continue doing the same exercises at home – and I don’t think I ever did any.   

I don’t eat chips, doughnuts, or snack food.  I drink maybe 4 diet cokes a year.  I am all about water but do have the occasional glass of wine.  Breakfast and lunch during the week I am pretty good.  Dinners and weekends I am terrible.  When I plan I do well but for the longest time if it was easy – say popped in 3 mins (popcorn) – that was dinner.  

Well all that came to a screeching halt last week.  I had been having chest pressure for a few weeks that increased when I walked across a parking lot or walked up stairs.  My left arm was very uncomfortable and felt tingly.  I started having indigestion which is highly unusual for me. 

Wednesday morning I woke up feeling very poorly but went to work.  The pressure was really bothering me and heart attack did float through my head but of course it couldn’t happen to me.  I texted a friend who is a nurse practitioner to see if she could stop by my house on her way home from work to listen to my heart.  She asked my symptoms and when I texted back my cell phone started ringing.  I was on the phone with a customer and didn’t pick up so she texted me – fast and furious.  I finally got a second and called her and she scared the crap out of me.  Nothing short of going to the ER was going to work for her and I should have thought the same but didn’t.  But I did promise I would go immediately.  I have been to the ER one other time in my life and that was for a terrible cold that was affecting my asthma.  I felt foolish and honestly was worried about money.  I informed work what I was doing and left.

Hearing how long a person can wait in an ER I called a friend who lets my dogs out twice a week to ask if she would be around for a just in case.  B insisted I pick her up on the way as she was equally concerned and felt someone should be with me.  I was instructed my NP friend to tell the ER I was having chest pains and let me say they whisked me inside.  I was stuck and hooked up to machines before I had a chance to run. 

What I didn’t know is the hospital I went to has a requested 23 hour watch program if you have chest pains.  Apparently the enzymes can elevate at 6 and 8 hours after an attack.  Even though the EKG, chest x-ray, and first enzymes blood test were normal they admitted me.  I was an unhappy camper.  I have never stayed overnight in a hospital for me.  Thank goodness my friend B came with. 

Every cliché I ever heard about a night in a hospital were true except I didn’t see any ghosts.  The medical professionals were amazing, having never been in a hospital before I asked about EVERYTHING.  If they wanted to give me meds I asked what it was – what it was for – and refused many.  The nurses were great even though I was a pain in the ass.  Don’t assume they know what is best because only you do.  Speak up!  Being on the cardiac wing I had special food apparently.  I was shocked when I was brought processed white bread with my turkey sandwich.  Seriously?   B kindly went down and brought me a salad, piece of rye bread and ice cream from the cafeteria.  Once I knew my dogs were at my friend L’s I could relax (relative).   

Allowing your body to rest and reset itself is one of the best things a person can do to recover.  A night in the hospital is not conducive to rest.  Personally I feel everyone should have a private room.  The Dr. made a sleeping pill available if I wanted it but I didn’t.   When the nurse came in at 2:00 am and asked why I wasn’t asleep I told her I was used to sleeping in the dark and with quiet.  My roommate had her lights and TV on though she was snoring away.  The nurse kindly turned both off.  I think the only hour I didn’t see was 3:00 am. 

The next morning I was up early waiting for the treadmill stress test.  Thankfully I was the first one in.  I had the distinction of being the only patient who had sneakers on to walk on the treadmill.  Think about footwear before checking into a hospital.  The cardiologist watched my heart and gave me a clean bill of health.  I did not have a heart attack and my heart was not damaged.  Big sigh of relief.

What was it?  Acid reflux!  WTH?  According to the cardiologist both mimic the exact same symptoms.  People that have had heart attacks can’t always recognize the difference.   It also explains my many bouts of laryngitis last year.

What is the point of this personal post?   Take care of yourself – really.  I scared a lot of very wonderful people and myself.  If you find yourself in the hospital ask about everything they are doing to you and giving you.  Don’t assume the medical profession knows best.  You know best about you.  Don’t eat the hospital food unless it comes from their cafeteria.  Eat right and exercise.  The eating right I am doing but I am still trying to figure out the exercise.  People love you and they want you to live a long time to share laughter and joy.  I am grateful people love me too.

1 comment:

  1. So glad this story has a happy ending!

    Your comment about not having time to exercise reminds me of an interview I saw on TV with a former president's personal trainer. Paraphrased, he said, "The President of the United States takes 30 minutes out of his day to exercise. No one's busier than the President." Of course, having a personal trainer to push you is helpful, as you noted!