Tuesday, December 11, 2007

If Perspective is Reality, I'm Dead

I cannot even begin to explain HOW REAL the “heart attack” I “had” today felt. It started at about 3:15 p.m. as I sat in our dimly lit conference room crosschecking an agreement with a coworker. I was reading aloud, she was silently following along, when mid-sentence, an intense stabbing sensation coursed through the left side of my chest.

Blinded by pain, I jumped up from my chair and grabbed my breast. Words were spewing from my mouth, (a problem I usually only encounter when drinking). “Holy shit, I think I’m having a heart attack!” I screamed.

My coworker, being an older woman, who’s actually had a heart attack, tilted her head and looked at me with unsympathetic eyes. “Your arm would hurt like hell and you’d be nauseous. You’re fine.”

Little did she know that as I stood slumped over that oversized table, gasping for air, and clawing at my chest, my arm did hurt, and it wouldn’t be long before the nausea set in. But before I could convey these seemingly infinitesimal details, and ASK HER TO CALL 911, her turquoise eyes shot to the black and white cityscape hanging on the wall behind me. “Why is that picture crooked!?! What the hell does that cleaning crew do in here at night? I’m gonna have to call management...”

The agreement fell to the floor as I limped out the conference room towards my desk. I could actually feel the artery bursting as I stumbled through the office. I could feel myself drifting away, when a sudden burst of nausea brought me back to this world. And then it happened, I started to dry heave, (right there in the middle of my office).

In a fit of panic, which it apparently was, I fled to the bathroom, gagging the whole way there. I locked myself in the far back stall and stood with my head in my hands for what felt like hours as stabbing pains continued to course through my chest.

Five minutes later, calmed only slightly by deep breathing, but still in a fog, I emerged from the stall and hobbled back to my office. The daziness lasted all afternoon. The pains have been sporadic. If what I experienced this afternoon wasn't at least a minor heart attack, I'm on the brink


woolly said...

Oh Leila that sounds dreadful. Sorry for the unwanted assvice on your last post.

I myself am sort of convinced I'm suffering from heart failure. This is due to my feet swelling during the day. My head knows that it is summer and hot and it happens to everyone but the other nagging thought says it is oedema and my heart is on the brink.

Chin up. Thinking of you and your heart.

Addie said...

Wow, it's the heart attack time of the year, apparently. I'm so stressed at work that my blood pressure is slightly elevated, and that has sent me into a panic...my old "friends" the gastrointestinal distress twins are back with a vengeance. Life quite frankly sucks right now. And what's scarier is that I've been here before. So I'm left wondering why me again. I'll be thinking about you, Leila. I hope you get to feeling better very soon.

sionnan said...

Leila, get a cardiologist, get a 30-day Holter, a stress echo and a thallium stress test. I tell you this not because I think there's something wrong with your heart, but because once you get all these things, and they tell you your heart is fine, you will be able to deal better with the attacks. I still have "heart" attacks a few times a month but now I can tell myself I'm either fine, or the doctor is going to spend alot of time in a courtroom defending his bad diagnosis. Either way, it helps :)

Leila V. said...

No apology necessary, I’m always open to advice. I’ve actually been thinking about medication a lot lately, but I just can’t bring myself to try it. I’m afraid of side effects and getting hooked, among other things, maybe I’ll post on my thoughts sometime soon. And I don’t even want to know what Oedema is, I’m resisting the urge to google.

And summer? It's freezing balls out here.

Heart attack time of the year??? One more piece of evidence to support my suspicions! I have been here before too, but I guess I’ve always known I’d be back. Here’s hoping we both get past this...

lol! I like the way you think. Personally, going to the doctor scares the hell out of me, but I know I'm going to have to get my ass down there.

Sweetest Surrender said...

Leila, I've been reading your blog for a while and when I first read it I thought that you were like many others who are either A)Using the name 'hypochondria' for humorous purposes, or B)Have a mild case of it. The way in which you describe the way you feel is how I feel all the time. Please e-mail me, I feel as if I can finally relate to someone.


^See, even my e-mail address reflects the constant anxiety.

I think we could help eachother out.

Sean said...

Oh Leila! Those were sympathy pains. I'm feeling pretty fucked up today too. But, seriously, or not, was Fred Sanford a Hypo?

And... did you cry? I feel like crying. Maybe I need a shoulder to cry on...

You're awesome, btw.

tournesol said...

Oh my gosh, I can really relate to what you are going through! It sounds so funny but I know how ugly it really can be! I went through a year of Heart stuff, and I swear, my heart would feel like it would actually get up and flop over. Horrible sensation! I went to the ER twice, nothing. I did the halter monitor. It went away as quickly as it came on. No more heart issues. Plenty of others, but the heart is over for now. Of course, I actually have a brother in law, hes in his 30's, was having heart palpitations, etc, and went to the ER and they did some tests and sent him out the door, saying he was fine, on the way out he had a heart attack and fell to the floor in the ER. TRUE STORY. He is okay now, had an operation and is doing fine but how can we relax when shit like that happens ALL THE TIME!!!!

Leila V. said...

Sweet Surrender:
Oh how I wish (A) or (B) were true, but no dice. I definitely think we can help each other; hearing from like minds always makes me feel less crazy. I’d love to chat here in the comments section rather than through email, so others can benefit too. I believe the more perspectives the better…

Fred Sanford was the funniest hypo ever! And I cry to often to keep count. If it helps, you can have my cyber shoulder…

Those stories are everywhere and that’s precisely why tests do nothing to relieve my stress. In fact, they just fuel my fire and make me believe that I'm going to be one of those horror stories.

Woolly said...

Well I spelt it wrong anyway. Edema. My heart failure seems a lot better today (plus it's heaps cooler: we're in the middle of summer in this hemisphere)

Medication: there are side affects but everyone's different. I got pretty bad ones but still they were so much better than the alternative, and they tend to go away.
Getting hooked? Maybe from diazepams but not SSRI's. They weren't invented when I first had these problems and they really are life altering. Exercise is doing much the same thing though without the side affects.
That pain you are getting is gas then a panic attack is causing the heaving.

Sean said...

Awe! You're the best. Thanks for making me smile, Leila!

noni said...

Hi, there. I recently read an article which talked about misplaced biopsy results. Apparently one woman had half her jaw removed because they thought she had cancer of the jaw (it then turned out she wasn't the one who had it but another patient.) However, the whole point is I am now terrified of going to the dentist in case he sees the white bump that looks like bone but may not be and suggests I have a biopsy. Have you ever had a biopsy?

Leila V. said...

Thanks for scaring the hell out of me. I've never had a biopsy, but I do have a little white lump on my gum under my bottom right canine tooth. It looks like it could be bone, but I of course, am convinced it's cancer. Guess I won't be going to the dentist for a while either.

SSRI's are the ones I always hear the horror stories about. I need to do some more research.

Hope you're feeling better today. You must've really been out of it yesterday, you didn't even point out my typo.

Fatty said...

My husband is an RN in a CCU (a heart nurse) and there are tests they can perform to see if you have had any "heart attacks" in the past. There is a chemical that is released into your blood stream that can confirm it - even many months after the fact. You should get it checked out soon.

Dustin said...

Agree that you should see a cardiologist. It never hurts to rule things out, but to me it sounds like you had a panic attack.

I'm on meds. The only thing I've had to change about my lifestyle is drinking. Can't do that anymore. But -- and do pardon me if I'm wrong here -- I think you're self-medicating with the alcohol. Perhaps if you were to get on medication you wouldn't even want to drink anymore?

The long-acting benzodiazepines are safe and the most effective treatment for panic disorder. The side-effect profile is very low when compared to SSRI's and the like. The drawback is dependence, but dependence is not the same as addiction. Addiction is a problem with short-acting benzos like Xanax and Ativan, but very rarely with Valium or Klonopin. With the longer acting ones, you're typically on a regimented dosage (bid) and tolerance isn't an issue and low dosages. And chances are you only need a low dose, even if your anxiety and panic are horribly awful.

When I started Klonopin, I literally got my life back. I can enjoy going out with my friends. My creativity is back. I'm nicer to people. I think more clearly. And I feel free to do anything except drink, which does suck, but it's a small price to pay.

I think you should at least explore these options. If you do have an A/P disorder, they don't typically get better without treatment; conversely, they get worse over time. So my advice would be to seek some sort of treatment.

Love your writing, as always. You're a gifted woman.


Leila V. said...

While that does sound tempting, I'm trying not to feed my fears by going in for tests. Now that it's been a few days, I'm clear that it was panic, and not a heart attack. I stopped going to the emergency room a few years ago and I'm much better off because of it.

I think your spot on about the self-medicating, but I do also enjoy drinking, and since I've given up other substances (not to be named), drinking is my last vice, and I'm not ready to part with it yet. My anxiety has improved immensely since I started writing about my experiences and reading about other peoples' stories.

BTW: I love the name change!

Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon this, i am a hipochondriac, beginning with palpitations and at school I had that very stabbing sensation, if you found anything out about it I would be interested, I think It was acid reflux.... but sitting up?

it's just hypondria, I need help...