Happy Heart Attack Day

Today, on the very day that everyone is wearing red to celebrate heart attacks, I am NOT on my blood pressure medication. My blood is running amok UN-MEDICATED. But, at least I am not lying on the floor in pain with a bottle of Vicodin. I’m not sure what percentage heart attack chance I am signing up for here, but it is really, really hard to conduct your life while lying on your floor in pain. I missed Indian food day at work and everything.

Here is the whole story… as long and drawn out as possible…

One day my back hurt. That kind of hurting where it feels like your muscles are attacking themselves with battery acid. The kind of hurting where you leave home from work so you can go lay on the floor in agony holding a bottle of Vicodin.

So, I did what I guess people do when they are experiencing severe pain, I made an appointment and went to the doctor. This is a big step for me, because I really HATE going to the doctor. In case you haven’t seen  the television series House, medical science is a bunch of guesswork. You go in and describe your symptoms, then the doctors order a series of tests after which they still have no clue what is wrong with you. I guess they are trying to buy time until the test results come in, hoping whatever it is wrong with you will resolve itself on its own.

The doctor enters the room and asks what the problem is. I tell the doctor that the muscles are hurting in my upper back and shoulders. She asks if I am vomiting or if I have diarrhea. I tell her, that no, as a matter of fact I am not vomiting. If I were vomiting with diarrhea, then those would most likely the very set of symptoms I would start off with. I’m not one to bury the lead.

She seems a bit disappointed about the lack of vomiting. She then suggests blood work, an EKG and a chest X-ray. I say to this doctor, “You DID hear me say that my BACK hurt… right? Is an EKG really necessary?” After some negotiation, we agree to limit the testing to the blood work. Of course, my back is still killing me. But… hey, at least I’ll get some nice blood reports later.

So, I go home and try to sleep, but then wake up in the middle of the night and can’t feel my hands. My fingers are all numb and tingly. I don’t like this because I read once on one of those medical sites that this person’s nerves were getting all compressed and she was almost paralyzed for life.

I’ve been thinking recently that I will probably die alone with cats and hoarded magazines, but I never ONCE pictured being paralyzed before I even GOT the magazines. Plus, I would hate to be paralyzed around a bunch of cats. No telling what they would do to you. I doubt they would be kind. I decide to go to the ER before I become paralyzed. That way, at least I will be paralyzed for life around medical staff instead of cats and magazines I haven’t hoarded yet.

I get to the ER, and everyone seems strangely unconcerned about the fact that my back hurts like hell and I can’t feel my hands and I will soon be paralyzed for life. They keep asking me if I am vomiting. Or, if I am having diarrhea. I am so tired of explaining the lack of vomiting.

I'm NOT vomiting

Take this shirt with you to the ER. You will need it. Of course, if you do end up vomiting after all, you can just vomit directly on the shirt. The vomit will be readily apparent and this will save time for everyone.

The medical people at the emergency room also want to do the EKG and the chest X-rays. They even want to do a sonogram of my gallbladder. While I would love to see what my gallbladder is up to, I really don’t think it has anything to do with me not being able to feel my hands. I realize I have come to the wrong place to be saved from being eaten alive by cats.

I patiently explain that I am NOT vomiting, and I don’t need an EKG, or a chest X-ray. I especially don’t need a gallbladder sonogram. The doctor seems perplexed that anyone would blatantly refuse a perfectly good gallbladder sonogram, but finally comes to a surprising conclusion, “I guess we can just say your back hurts and let you go.”

Then I say, “My back DOES HURT! That is EXACTLY what I said when I came into this freak show.” Of course, I say this inside my mind because I notice the doctor is handing me some prescriptions. Prescriptions DIRECTLY RELATED to my back hurting. Wow. I’m stunned.

I end up leaving with steroids to bring down the swelling that was crushing my nerves and Vicodin to manage the pain. Because… my back hurt, apparently.

Turns out that I went through all of this because it is a side effect of the blood pressure medication the doctor put me on. Why do they even ASK you what medication you are on if they are just going to assume you have gallbladder failure?

I’ve been through four different kinds of this type of medication. None of them have really worked that well and all of them have had side effects. The first one made me crave pickle juice. Seriously, it did. The second one made me feel like I ate gravel and was walking around with rocks in my stomach. The third one gave me this constant cough that kept me up all night and must have been incredibly annoying to co-workers. Now this one makes my muscles feel like they are attacking themselves.

I really don’t want to get on another set of pills so I can wait for more new and surprising side effects, but you can’t just go around with your blood pressure high. They won’t let you.

I don’t have cholesterol problems, so my arteries aren’t filled with goo. I exercise, so I’m not carrying around extra weight. Maybe I just rev higher than other people. My dad is the same way, so it must be a hereditary thing. But you aren’t allowed to rev higher because doctors will not go for this theory at all.

It is just like when I wanted to carry that human skull with me at graduation. No one else is carrying human skulls. You are NOT allowed to be different, and this INCLUDES your blood (and carrying human skulls). If you go to the dentist with high blood pressure, they will totally freak out. So will the eye doctor. Pretty soon you can’t take your blood anywhere without people freaking out about it. The ironic thing is that while the people are all getting anxious and freaky, they don’t seem to realize they are creating the VERY SITUATION that is going to make the blood pressure go even higher. No one sees irony while it is happening.

Don’t worry, everyone… as soon as I am completely healthy again, I am going to go to the doctor to get this whole thing straightened out. I don’t want to back there while I am sick. It is a recipe for fucking disaster.

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About lgalaviz
All of this hardly seems necessary.

16 Responses to Happy Heart Attack Day

  1. debihen says:

    I read this whole thing and aside from the fact that you experienced what all patients experience (medical professionals who don’t listen to us because clearly we do not know what we’re talking about) I was facinated with you wanting to carry a skull at your graduation. You’re even cooler than I thought. Even if you do have problems being clear and precise with your explanations to Drs on whats ailing you.

    • lgalaviz says:

      I didn’t say I actually had a skull handy to carry. But that didn’t stop me from asking if I could carry one. Sometimes people don’t know when a question is largely hypothetical.

  2. I probably shouldn’t have sent you that Finnish salty licorice, as licorice is known to raise one’s blood pressure.

    But I’m guessing there are only trace amounts of real licorice in modern sweets, so that should be ok.

  3. I’m sorry you almost got paralysed and eaten by cats. (Side note: do you even have cats? Or were you expecting neighboury cats to show up and tuck in as soon as you were immobalised?) Muscle pain in the back can be excruciatingly painful. I once thought I had a kidney stone but it turned out to be nothing but back muscle cramps. And I found out to my detriment that morphine makes me physically sick. Goddammit.

  4. lgalaviz says:

    I don’t actually have cats. I assumed that if I was paralyzed, that they would just show up somehow. Cats are like that.

  5. jbrown3079 says:

    Of all the side effects you listed, the pickle juice craving seemed like the worst to me.

  6. Gigi says:

    Totally random fact here, but you brought up cats so it *seems* relevant. I just discovered this week that dogs will sit by the bodies of their dead masters no matter how long, while cats….well, let’s just say they don’t and leave it at that.

    Now, after that very gruesome fact, take your medication, despite the random side effects. Eventually, they will get it right. Blood pressure is nothing to kid around with. It’s totally hereditary and I’m arguing with Hubby over this very issue all the time.

    And, don’t get a cat.

    And? I can’t believe I just actually shared that totally random, and gruesome, fact. I’m sorry, but if I can’t share it with you, then who could I share it with?

    • lgalaviz says:

      Hey… I suspected all along about the cats.
      I think I will ask if they have a different sort of medication. They seem to have a lot of them. I want one with a side effect that does NOT include severe pain, preferably. I should have stated that from the outset.

  7. My blood pressure is too low, for some reason. I wonder if they’re going to start giving me medication that gives me odd side-effects, like random dancing or maybe facial tics. I hope not. I have enough weird things going on as it is.

    Was I supposed to wear red to work this week? No one even told me. Maybe they were pranking me at my new job, or maybe everyone I work with hates heart health. I should find out what’s going on with that.

    • Rosie says:

      Haha! Your drug side effects would turn you into Zooey Deschanel!

    • lgalaviz says:

      They never care about blood pressure being too low. You would be the most popular person in that medical office with your blood pressure. Too bad the blood pressure testing isn’t something you can cheat on. I would totally sneak you in and give them your arm to put the cuff on.

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