Tuesday night, after I went to bed, I began experiencing what I thought was extreme heartburn. I couldn't lie down. I could not put my weight on the left side of my body. I was up for hours and finally fell asleep.
I woke Wednesday morning feeling much the same way. As the day went on it got worse. A voice in my head was saying, "Some people have heart attacks and it felts like indigestion." Great...The pain had moved into my left shoulder. It hurt worse when I moved and the pain became unbearable. I was in tears and the pain started moving down from my left shoulder and then down my left arm.
The left side.
The "heart attack side."
The symptoms for women can be different and I knew the symptoms. I had a few of them. (I will post them at the bottom.)
The thought had crossed my mind the night before that it could be my heart but I brushed it aside. I am 34. But I do have a few problems that would predispose me to heart problems. We have heart disease in our family. It wasn't beyond the realm of possibility but I decided it was probably indigestion.
Then it progressed to where I could not ignore it anymore and called my doctor, hoping to go in and see them. The receptionist had me speak with the nurse and told me that if I came in I would likely be sent to the emergency room anyway. She said, "Something doesn't sound right." Next thing I knew I was going to the ER.
For chest pains. At the age of 34.
There is never a dull moment here, folks.
I never felt I was truly having a heart attack but I thought maybe my body was going to "gear up for one." There is pain when there is a blockage in an artery. I couldn't take a deep breath and I was struggling occasionally to breathe. I knew I was getting myself worked up. I couldn't imagine it being anything else but indigestion and I know the symptoms of a heart attack are different for a woman than a man so the thought was still in the back of my mind.
The pain was a squeezing, tearing pain that hurt worse when I moved or took a deep breath. It was one of the worst pains I have felt in my life (and if you know what I have lived through you know this must have been pretty bad.) I began to feel tired.
I had a ton of scenarios playing out in my head. I am very creative. I know I can be over dramatic. I just knew it was all over. My mom took the girls and Tim came to the ER to be with me. My vitals were good and I was put into a room. Every time I had to move or lift my left arm I would tear up. I had an EKG and it was normal. I went for a chest x-ray. I was unsure why. It didn't make sense at first. Then it hit me. (I know I am overdramatic.) I decided then and there that they would be finding breast cancer. I prayed and prayed. I got an IV. They wouldn't let me eat in case they had to do surgery. I later found out that the x-ray was normal. I had a bunch of blood taken and tests run. They couldn't figure it out. They had already talked about blood clots in the lungs, an embolism, and air where it shouldn't be in my chest area. The list went on and on and we discovered that it was not any of the possible "scary" heart/lung diagnoses. They gave me a strong dose of something and it did nothing to the pain. Later, a synthetic morphine would make me high as a kite. I felt the pain a little bit but the medicine made me not care. I really felt like I could fly. Cue R. Kelly's song..."I Believe I Can Fly." ;)
The best the doctors could figure is I somehow pulled a muscle in there. The lactic acid has nowhere to go so it hurts very bad. I don't remember doing anything that would have caused a pulled muscle but all the heart and blood tests were normal. So, we are waiting and seeing and I am on medication for a pulled muscle. I am a good bit better today so I am guessing I'm not leaving this planet any time soon. ;)
I feel I did the right thing. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Pain on the left side should not be ignored and with my luck if I didn't go, it WOULD have been worse and it would have been a heart attack. That's just the way my mind works. I probably wouldn't have gone in if it weren't for the nurse at my doctor's office but she seemed genuinely concerned about my symptoms. I knew it could be serious and I am just glad it wasn't.
I feel the need to post about heart attack symptoms in women because they can be different than what is typically learned or associated with a heart attack. Below are heart attack symptoms in females according to webmd.com:
(My symptoms are underlined so you can see why I was scared.)
Pressure, fullness or a squeezing pain in the center of the chest, which may spread to the neck, shoulder or jaw;
Chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath;
*I apologize for any errors. I am worn out.