Legal Chest Pains


I have been worried about my heart the last few days.

Having PVC & PAC activity is always disturbing but it seems a little different lately. More episodes, stronger extra beats or like this morning, two quick episodes of sharp pain with them.

I am sure I have had pain in the past. A faint memory is lying there but I can’t wrap my full attention around it.

When you have sharp chest pains and you are someone with “health anxiety” (the polite term for hypochondriac) then it sets off all sorts of warning alarms that I have mentioned in past posts.

For those not familiar, it goes a little something like this:

Minding my own business

Pain or dizziness – something out of the norm – could be a twitch or twinge

All systems stop in their tracks while the mind and body “listen” for anything else to happen. If it does, that occurrence is analyzed fully and completely.

Analyzing an occurrence goes like this:

What was THAT?

It was a…..<insert symptom here>

I wonder if that is a problem!

<Insert symptom here>

There it is again!

Okay, it was a sharp pain. It was in the center of my chest.

OH MY GOD ITS A HEART ATTACK

~ Launch all systems GO evaluation~

Blood pressure cuff – on and inflating (please be normal, please be normal….)

PulseOx meter attached (DON’T look at it for 10 seconds because it is always off while it calculates. DON’T LOOK YET)

Blood pressure results – within normal ranges (Thank goodness….)

PulseOx within normal limits (Thank goodness)

Pause……

“I wonder if I did them right.”

Relaunch check of symptoms

Within normal ranges

“Oh thank God! But…what is that pain? I’ll just look it up on the Internet….”

FAIL

As someone with health anxiety (don’t be rude, that is what we are calling it. YOU can be a hypochondriac…I am NOT!)┬ásearching the Internet for what ails you is the kiss of….well…..anxiety or panic…we CAN’T say the other word or it provokes nervousness.

If you are not in a full-blown attack then, you will be within a few minutes of clicking and sifting through the best terrorizing medical information the web has to offer.

The thing is? We KNOW this yet…we do it again and again.

I did it this morning after my bout of chest pain. “I can’t go to the doctor so I almost HAVE to rely on the Internet, don’t I?”

Um, no but that doesn’t stop me.

I sit down on the edge of my bed facing the window. This is where I go when I start having anxiety. That SHOULD be my first clue but it never is.

I bring up the search engine. “Tell me what my death sentence is Dr. Google” I almost say as I begin my sifting.

One thing I have learned is to stay away from WebMD as it will ALWAYS tell me absolute death is impending. Paper cut? Can become infected leading to death. Hang nail? Seek emergency medical attention as you may die.

We stay away from WebMD but Mayo Clinic is my golden child of the “What am I dying of today” world.

Mayo Clinic tells me the facts but almost leans toward not telling me enough. They always throw in when to seek medical attention but it doesn’t seem as ominous as WebMd does.

So far it could be spasms in my digestive track, PVC/PAC activity just causing pain or…brace yourself, it could be anxiety.

So, I launch another round of vital checks and determine that if I am going to die today, I need to accomplish something worthwhile.

Instead, I start writing.

What I have learned over the last year of my life is that I have become a VERY anxious person. I was always a Type A personality before but never full of twists and turns like I have now.

My previous employer shares much of the blame of the creation of the mess we all see before our eyes.

Years of being treated poorly and differently than my peers took its toll but nothing like the last and final month of my employment after returning from FMLA. The torment elevated to amazing new heights as they clearly felt the need to retaliate for my absence and then plotted my departure.

I have YEARS of excellent service to that company and needed time off to put Humpty Dumpty back together again because I was torn down from all of your games and demands and you couldn’t get past the time off I needed so you termed me? Makes total sense.

I am being told that my life will be better without my involvement in that company, in that department and certainly in that toxic environment but while I wait for that “bliss” to hit, I am left worrying about medical insurance, life insurance and of course, the almighty dollar to pay my bills when I did everything you asked me to do.

One of the things about the culture I worked in was that they pushed “We will provide you with all of the tools you need to do your job effectively” yet when I reminded them that I don’t have the tools, I was written up. When I didn’t quit as they thought I would, they fired me.

 

As your employee you promised me that you would lead me with all stops removed, to the type of manager you wanted me to be. I did as asked, when asked and usually much better than I was asked to do it, and then you let me go?

That just doesn’t seem ethical. Considering the source, that isn’t a shock.

So today I am fighting my way through the worry that the after effects of your poor and tortuous treatment of me have caused permanent damage.

I pray. I hope and I know that God will take care of me but I also hope that I don’t “go” before I have something important to leave behind. I am not ready and hope God allows me the chance to do something of value for Him, and me.

 

 

 

 

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Sadness


My skipped and extra heart beats (PVC, PAC) are back today. I hate them. Life is stressful enough – I sure don’t need these too.

It’s been a week since I was fired. I don’t miss them, that’s for sure. They are ridiculous people with a skewed image on how to conduct business. Popularity contests never proved to be great for business over the long run.

Today my heart is ping ponging around my chest upsetting me more and more. Some chest pains and some left arm numbness. It’s scary but I’ve been told as late as April that my heart checks out just fine. 4 months ago. I just have to keep reminding myself that its okay.

I received some legal papers in the mail. It’s just exacerbated the symptoms further.

It’s too bad life gets this way. It shouldn’t have to be do hard.

 

Okay…that’s it


Ring….Ring….Ring….

“Hello?”

“It’s stress calling. I don’t plan on talking to you now, I just wanted to upset you. I’ll do it again tomorrow. See you then!”

That was my day off. Can’t wait.

My heart has been skipping and thudding all over the place. PVC and PAC’s suck. Ask anyone that has them. Sometimes they only scare you. Other times they hurt and scare you. They suck either way.

So that boot I talked about a few posts ago? The one they like to hang in the air over your head? Remember? They don’t bother with shoes as they prefer dropping boots?

Yeah, it’s going to be dropped on my skull tomorrow.

My company…..just adores a good ambush.

What they love more?

A pre-planned – pre-warned ambush is something they cherish even more.

If they can call you on a Saturday night and tell you of a planned meeting for the next Friday at 4:00pm, without any idea what the meeting is about….even better!

That’s a little extreme but….it happens. Mine was a little over 24 hours advance notice. No hint, no response when I asked what it was about….

I’m pretty sick of that stuff.

I don’t steal, don’t treat people poorly and don’t do things that are any where near those lines. I don’t cheat, lie or anything else. What I do actually do is ask questions or talk about how situations are a problem.

I’ve been told I need to shut up and do what I am told. Don’t ask questions, don’t question anything – just do it.

No opinions, no response. Just be the robot they want.

Okay. But can you not call me anymore?

Oh….wait. That was a question.

This will take some practice.

My response is okay.

That’s it.

A hamburger will get you!


The pain of my life

I am doing better with my heart anxiety, for the most part.

I’m currently having moments of pain followed by a boost of anxiety. I know it’s silent worry over the chest pain. It’s normal. I say it and mean it. It’s normal!

The reintroduction of certain foods seems to have provoked some of my symptoms.

Sugar, dairy and white bread have all been things I have been staying away from except on super rare occasions.

The last few weeks I have toyed with them only to experience what I am now currently suffering through. I figured I was having issues anyway so…I’d live it up a little. Well…no.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that those things are highly undesirable as far as my body is concerned. So…back off the list they go.

It’s better that way.

I feel like I’ve eaten rocks. My esophagus seems raw and angry.

As luck would have it, I have a scope coming soon. I’m hoping its nothing major and I can continue putting my life back together.

A medical setback is not what the doctor ordered. Neither is a hamburger.

Today’s a heart day


I began my day like I ended it yesterday, obsessing about my blood pressure.

I’ve been on this “kick” for a few days now. I’ve been sick which is what started my vitals checking. I have had pneumonia several times in my life and was reasonably concerned I was headed there. I started with checking my pulse ox to make sure I was getting oxygen and was. Then I fretted about a clot, somewhat reasonable, and this the blood pressure checking.

Once I saw low blood pressure, it was on like Donkey Kong!

In my Google quest, I learned about PULSE PRESSURE. A better indicator of heart health than everything else (in conjunction with your vitals).

Soooooo, as you may imagine, off on another addition to my health OCD.

So for pulse pressure you apparently should be between 30 and 40.

I’ve been as low as 24 and as high as 56.

I think I’m dehydrated which makes a difference. It can also (likely) be the cause of my low Bp.

I see a bit of an elevated heart rate than normal so, I’ll need to drink more fluid today and maintain it.

I’m bad about drinking. I feel full or am busy so I don’t do it as I should. I signed up for a water tracking app in hopes it will help me remember to drink.

So, I have a day of meetings today. My hope is that I can muscle through without “Jonesing” for a Bp reading. Silly right?!

Another thing is clearly I need to get back to exercising. I’m terrified. I’m afraid that will be what kills me.

I see the Doc tomorrow. I’m sure he’s on the edge of his seat waiting to hear my worries THIS time.

He’s a wonderful and amazingly patient guy. It’s a good thing because I’m so sick of myself right now I can’t stand it.

So, up I go. I need to get to my meetings.

Wish me luck and God bless!

Push it!


It has snowed for a full day. I now struggle with the need to clean my walks with the fear of exercise.

I look around my bedroom and see stacks of health books. Fitness, cooking or books about healthy living and wonder where that person went.

My life was about health. It still is but in a fear based way.

I haven’t worked out in close to 8 or 9 months. I’m afraid to. Silly huh?

I’m fearful of heart attack and stroke but I won’t work out.

Fear is unreasonable. It’s usually lie based and has superhuman powers.

For a moment last week I considered hiring a personal trainer. Then I realized I am starting a temp part-time job Monday and taking online classes as of last week. (which I still need to go in and see what needs to be done!)

It’s a familiar pattern. Zero to 100. It’s what I do.

So I stopped in my tracks. I will not have room for one more thing. My temp job is early mornings. Too many of those and I don’t do well.

School can be demanding so, I need to focus there.

I need to walk at home. Walking is better than nothing. Plus my temp job will require me to be active so those two things can get me acclimated to moving again. Maybe it’s what I need to start exercising again.

It’s proven exercise helps depression and anxiety. In my early days of panic when I was still fit, I would run on the treadmill and it was like a cure all.

Somewhere I lost that and decided it would do me in. I’m not sure why but I’m fairly sure it was when my PVC and PAC (extra and skipped beats) were being wild and out of control.

There is nothing worse than working out while your heart skips around. You’re fearful anyway, that just seems to be poking a stick at it.

Even though they are more quiet now (they are there, I’m just either focusing less or they are less intense) I still can’t seem to get back to exercise.

So right now, I’ll try to push walking. I’ll do my active temp job and pray that gets me moving and comfortable with it so I can get back to doing the things I enjoyed.

Recovery is a path of winding peaks and valleys. It has canyons you swear you can’t cross and zip lines that allow you to sail through events with ease.

There are dead ends and a few short cuts but mostly, there is a solid path that has to be walked.

It gets old. You have huge setbacks that generally follow huge gains.

It’s important to keep pushing forward on the days that you can so when the bad days show up, you can rest up for the next push.

It’s all gone


It’s become overwhelmingly too much to endure any longer.

The pain of fear. The agony of it all day after day after every damned day.

Today wasn’t bad. I had my reservations, but it wasn’t bad. I thought, as I have in the past that for a minute, things felt better. Different. Perhaps I was leading my way (or after massive amounts of prayer..BEING led) out of this darkness.

Then…in it creeps.

I make a split decision that I regret to my soul and it starts flooding back in.

First with disequilibrium. The feeling of walking on a moving surface. It only lasts a nanosecond but within that nanosecond, panic is let out of its cage.

Then comes the tingling either in my left cheek, jaw or deltoid. This provokes worry. Stroke? Oh God, please help me.

Then it all starts to unravel from there.

If I were talking with the crazy me, I would say “Crazy, listen, this has happened countless times over the last 11 months. You’ve been fine. This is probably from you clenching your shoulders and neck.”

I would try to reason.

There isn’t any.

A pain is a clot. An extra or skipped heart beat (which I have on a good day or bad day and has been checked and double checked) is the sign of impending death.

The strain in my neck is blocked vessels, which is likely partially true exempt its probably caused by tension.

Here come the actual panic attacks. It feels like that very moment when you’re at the top of the highest roller coaster and your stomach drops as the air gasps from your lungs. You’re now flooded with terror.

You reason that this is exactly what panic feels like. Crazy rudely tells you to F-off because what if you’re wrong!

You cry. The terror mixed with the months long guilt and constant fight have taken their toll. You cry a lot. It’s a deep sorrowful sob. It clearly comes from your soul and your soul is wailing.

You pray a string of begging, pleading, promising words as you try not to scare your family.

You apologize repeatedly to your spouse who has had to resort to continuing to watch tv. One hand on the remote while the other pats you. Occasional “You’ll be okay” is spoken and you’re crushed with guilt, remorse and every other emotion that indicates issues.

You’re panic is too much today so you take a full dose of Ativan. Something you never do but, you’re tired. You’re worn out. You look at your spouse through a heavy downpour of tears and squeak “I think I’m going to have to go into the hospital, and I don’t want to.”

Speaking those words out-loud causes you to unleash the wailing of 10,000 wounds that you’ve inflicted upon yourself. The wails of someone at the end of their coping scale. It’s a sound that brings tears to anyone that hears it because its so deep, so sorrowful and so painful, you unwittingly share in it.

You lay next to your spouse who tries to comfort you, but there is none.

The Ativan starts to work a touch so the tears shut off-ish.

You are cold. Cold gives you anxiety so you head to the bath.

You remind yourself that a bath is always a sign of panic and anxiety.

Crazy doesn’t cuss at you because Crazy agrees.

While you let the warm water sooth your spirit and warm your body, you pray. You ask for forgiveness. You try to calm Crazy down some more.

Crazy is unruly. You see, we really don’t know Crazy that well. She is odd. Crazy is shifty. She’s fundamentally the same person but changes almost daily.

Yesterday you could reason with Crazy where today, there is no reasoning.

Crazy practices self-abuse. She’s not a cutter or addicted to drugs but Crazy seems to look for any reason to propel a worry into an anxiety attack.

Her knife is Google. Her drug is The Mayo Clinic.

She feels a twinge, Google fix. “What’s that sentence?” Click.

“Serious risks are involved when”
“Side effects are”
“Symptoms such as these are associated with”
“And in some cases resulting in death”

Crazy will research and read so much that a simple quick sharp pain in the body unleashes a storm of checks and balances that would fry even the most powerful computer.

The checks and balances continue until a diagnosis is formed.

It looks much like the scene in War Games when the computer is flying through possible scenarios to win.

No one wins this game. Ever.

So Crazy settles on a diagnosis and then rechecks with Google, Mayo, WebMd…even Wikipedia.

Crazy reads every single line looking for the sentence that concurs with the findings and then Crazy will pour over it again and again, drilling the prognosis in deeper and deeper until she is certain death is at hand.

A cough is a blood clot. A neck pain is stroke. Numbness in the arm is stroke or heart attack. A headache is cancer. Wait! Recent MRI eliminated that. It’s either a clot or….a headache.

Crazy camps in the tub. Isolated. Wondering if her family would check on her in time to save her from death. She wonders how long she would be in the tub before they would wonder if she was okay.

You shake Crazy and tell her to stop. You can’t do this any more.

The Ativan is working a bit more and Crazy quiets down. You’re left to ponder your next move without Crazy pushing you.

In-treatment looks like its a front runner. Your episodes are bigger but less frequent. Crazy stirs and you stop and wait for the ability to continue.

You evaluate all you’ll lose. How can I go to a facility? I’ll lose everything.

And you will.

Post 9-11 and pre-weapon banning frenzy, your mental health medical records are an interest to about everyone. There will be background checks that include this information. HEPA who?!

I can’t lose everything. But if I don’t….I’m going to lose everything.

Rock and hard place.

You have counseling tomorrow. You hope you can sort out real from fear. Recent upsetting events from normal anxiety.

You dread going to work. You don’t know how you’re going to make it through the day!

Your heart sinks. You tear up. You see your life slipping away. It’s painful.

You’re tired. You’re sad. You’re hopeless, helpless and worn out.

You’ve got very little, if anything left.

Suicide isn’t an option. I do not agree with it or condone it, but I sure as hell understand the reason it happens. (If you feel this is YOUR solution call the Hotline at (800) 273-8255 right now. They can help.)

If you’re not one to commit suicide, what do you do?

I don’t do drugs or drink. I don’t smoke or have a vice. Where is my out?

I guess I’ll have to wait until Crazy fights her way back through the Ativan curtain so she can Google it and find out.

In the meantime, my spouse is left alone. Left to wonder if Ill ever return.
Left to deal with the tormented soul that is so filled with guilt plagued self loathing that I’m sure is torn between wanting their OWN life back and wanting to honor our vows….in sickness and in health.

I would be there until the sun was shining again, but can we really ask another to do the same?

Guilt and shame washes over me every minute of every single broken regret filled helpless day.

My ability to stand strong is gone. My ability to fight this is gone. My ability to reason with Crazy is gone. My abilities to really, do much of anything…are gone.

It’s all gone.