Sunday, I woke from one of those glorious afternoon naps that only seem to happen on that particular day of the week, and very shortly felt the familiar chest pain. It quickly elevated in intensity and the pain spread down my shoulder and left arm. I sat with this set of on again-off again symptoms for about 24 hours, trying to relax, talking myself out of it being anything serious, but the hideous thing about this syndrome is that it feeds itself in a cycle of pain-anxiety-fear-pain.
Don't judge. It is something that can't be spiritualized. Trust me, I've had years of experience believing that this was simply my lack of faith. The discipline of gratitude journal writing definitely makes a dent in anxiety and fear, but it is not a silver bullet. It won't make the chest pain, palpitations, anxiety, and that vicious cycle stop.
By the next evening, I'd had enough. You can't believe what was swirling through my head.
Is this a heart attack? I don't want to leave here right now, but then again, that wouldn't be so bad for me to be in Paradise. The people I love that I would leave...no, I would never want them to have that kind of grief. My grandchildren. I want to know them and I want them to know me.
For cryin' out loud, get a grip. It's not that serious.
This is so painful. Not since 2004 and the months leading up to my divorce have I felt this awful. I should have it checked out. But I don't have insurance. Will this be another unbearable financial burden? I can't do this to Leland. Good gravy. Somebody should just shoot me up with some pharmaceutical knockout cocktail and come check on me in the morning.
But with that being out of the realm of possibility, I got Leland to drive me to St. Joseph's emergency department to see if this despicable mitral valve prolapse had actually progressed into something threatening. Obviously, they also thought that was a distinct possibility because the PA came in to tell me, "You're not going home," followed by multitudinous blood draws, next to no sleep that night, no food or water, and hours in nuclear cardiology and the echo lab.
All my labs were normal, I aced my stress test and the despicable MVP has not progressed. Thank God, a healthy heart.
So, I asked the cardiologist standing before me, So where is the pain coming from?
I don't know, was her answer.
My head checked in with my tired, for-the-most-part healthy body, running over the events of the previous many hours, and a weary little voice said, holy shit, you've got to be kidding me.
The dead serious (no pun intended) look on her face told me she was not. I'm looking forward to her exorbitant bill to come in the mail. She handed me her card and told me to make an appointment for a follow-up visit. I won't tell you what the weary little voice in my head had to say to that.
What have I learned?
- I need to offer my services as a consultant to nursing staff everywhere on proper phlebotomy technique. Yes, I am qualified. Over qualified. And certified.
- MVPS/Dysautonomia is still, 10 years after my last evaluation, largely misunderstood.
- I will be more conscientious than ever with my healthcare, taking extra special care of the temple.
- I can stop asking forgiveness when I experience the laundry list of symptoms associated with this syndrome. It's not my fault.
- It is highly likely that the majority of people on your Facebook friend list are not actually friends in the truest sense of the word. If the people who are on that list, including family, have nothing to say about you being in a hospital situation, you might want to get out into the real world of flesh and blood people and make some real friends (she says to that person in the mirror).
Well, that was no fun, but you know what? I'm very happy to be home, to have learned a few things, to have had a good cleansing cry, and to know I'm okay. I'm loved and I'm going to be around a while.
What does a girl do after a night and day of hospital trauma? Get a pedicure. Oh yes, shiny happy toes. Pampering for a bit was definitely in order.