Everyone knows what a bucket list is, right? You know, the list of things you want to do before you kick the bucket? I'm pretty sure everyone has one and we all get to do something on our list every once in a while. I also believe that everyone has something called a F*uck That list. Its the things you don't want to do, ever. We all try to avoid doing those things. Unfortunately, I got to experience one of the things on my F*ck That list on Friday.
I was going to be SO productive on Friday, you guys, I really was. I was going to do some shopping and then come home to do a much needed boxing up of stuff I've been wanting to send to goodwill. Then, if I had some time, I was going to eat ice cream and watch a movie. I even had the movie picked out so I could watch it when I had time.
I started out my day going to one of my favorite stores, Hobby Lobby. I didn't even really need anything, but that never mattered before. I was just there to see what I could find and have a little fun. Everything was fine until I knelt down to look at something at the bottom of a shelf, and when I stood up I almost fainted. You know how you'll stand up too quick and get a head rush? It was like that, only really bad. I had to steady myself and when I finally did, I couldn't take a deep breath. I've been having some trouble with the deep breathing since we were in Ireland, so I did what I always do and puffed on my inhaler. Usually that helps, only it didn't this time. My heart started beating so hard and fast that I thought I was going to pass out. I didn't, thank goodness, and so I kept on shopping. The feeling didn't go away. My heart was going a mile a minute and I was dizzy and couldn't breathe, and as I happen to wear a Garmin Vivosmart HR now, I remembered that I was wearing a heart rate monitor on my arm and could see if I was just imagining it. I don't know what my normal heart rate is, but I was walking slowly through a building, not running, and my heart rate was going crazy. It was a 134 beats a minute when I first checked, it went down to 112, then went back up to 135 while I was watching it. My chest wasn't hurting, and I wasn't having a panic attack, so I didn't understand what was happening. I shopped for a bit longer, paid for my stuff, and went out to my car to go to the next place. On the walk to the car, my heart rate fell to 41, and then jumped back up to 120. I almost, almost went to the walk-in clinic right then, because the last time I was feeling like this, it turned out to be walking pneumonia and easily taken care of. By the time I had sat in the air conditioning for a minute, though, I felt a little better and decided to go to Target instead. Just walking to the building from the car started my heart racing again. I was dizzy and was still having trouble breathing, but I thought it would pass. It didn't. I went to the pharmacy and sat on the bench with my face in my hands and tried to take stock of what was going on. I was dizzy, my heart was slamming inside my chest, I couldn't take a deep breath, but I wasn't in pain anywhere. Physically, it felt exactly like one of those massive panic attacks I have had in the past, but my mind wasn't racing about anything. I sat there wondering what I should do, when I broke out into a sweat and my skin flushed. I was afraid someone from the pharmacy would see me and call an ambulance (I really didn't want that) and so I got up to leave. I called Steve to get his advice on what I should do, go to the clinic, or go to an emergency room. We both decided I should go to the walk in clinic after all, just in case this was walking pneumonia. I just hoped I could get seen quickly because I was feeling very wrong.
I got to the clinic and got called back within about 10 minutes. When the nurse came in, I told her what was going on and she took my blood pressure. She walked out of the room right away and grabbed the doctor and brought her in. I kept my composure. The last time I was in that clinic with a similar story and didn't stay calm, that doc prescribed me an anti-depressant I didn't need. I didn't want her to do that again. She listened to my heart and listened to me breathe and told me to lie down. Then she came back in and told me I needed to go to the emergency room. I told her I could drive myself, but she said no, they'd call me an ambulance. Well, crap. So I said that was fine and I called Steve to tell him to meet me there.
You guys, I was literally handed to a couple of paramedics, strapped to a gurney, and wired to an EKG machine. They were super calm, thank goodness, because if they'd been in a panic, I would have panicked. I was wheeled out of the clinic in front of everyone in the waiting room and loaded into a waiting, lights flashing, ambulance in the parking lot. I was actually embarrassed. I've never had anything like that happen before and had hoped I never would! The paramedic gave me baby aspirin, then nitroglycerin (which is so gross, BTW) and I was driven - sirens off, thank goodness - to the nearby hospital. The medic kept me calm, trying to explain what could be wrong, and she said it didn't look like a heart attack, but they couldn't be sure. She started an IV and called the hospital. She asked me questions the whole time. I tried to keep a good sense of humor about all of it and I felt oddly calm, but really, I was scared.
I got wheeled into the emergency room (and I smiled at everyone I saw, mainly because I felt like such a tool for being wheeled into the emergency room) and they settled me into a bed and started hooking me up to things. I had the IV, a bunch of ID bracelets (and one that said "FALL RISK" which I'm keeping to wear for other times because, really, I am one) blood was being drawn and I was being fitted with a blood pressure cuff and wired up (again) for a new EKG machine. One of the nurses told me to get undressed from the waist up, and he covered me with a gown for privacy, and then I had to answer a million questions and swear on two sets of paper work that I wasn't pregnant. Steve came in around that time and the nurses and stuff started leaving me. Soon, we were in there alone.
I was still weirdly calm about everything. I hadn't panicked once, even though I was scared, and Steve being there to talk to helped a great deal in keeping that together. People would come in and out, and I think I had to tell the story of what happened four or five times. One thing I had to admit to was taking too much of a certain kind of medication I was prescribed, just in case that was what was causing this. I know, I know, I was being dumb, but I hadn't felt like the medicine was doing me any good at the strength I was given, so I decided to take a half a pill more just to see what would happen. It's such a tiny amount of medicine that I didn't think it would matter, and the Nurse Practitioners didn't think that would do it, but they did blood tests (again) to check on that. The tests that they'd done on my heart had come back fine, and my blood tests came fine - even the one where they could check the levels of medication was normal. No one seemed to know what was going on. During this time, the power kept going off in the hospital, which slowed everything down a lot. It also turned off the air conditioning, which, as you understand, was no fun. I told the NP that I had been in Ireland, and he said that because I'd been on a very long flight and because of my *ahem* age and because I have birth control pills, I could very possibly have a blood clot that had traveled to my lung, which could be why I was having trouble breathing. So the sent me for a CAT scan, and I got as far as being wheeled into the room and rolled into the machine when the power went out again and caused the dye injector to malfunction. So I was rolled back to my room and told that I would be taken back when they'd fixed it. The power never came back on, so they did a different test that said I didn't have a blood clot. I think I was in that room for a total of 6 or 7 hours, mostly alone or with Steve, and the NP came back in and said I could leave. They couldn't find anything wrong.
So my heart starts beating out of control, I can barely breathe, I almost pass out, another doctor sends me to the emergency room in an ambulance, and there isn't anything wrong. Well, OK then. I'm not complaining or anything, because I certainly didn't want to die or whatever, but still...that's weird, right? Huh.
So I got unplugged from everything, and I had to pull off about a hundred sticky things from my chest and torso where leads had been attached (and they left sucker marks that look like I'd been hugged by an angry octopus) and I was discharged. I'm covered in needle pricks and bruises. I was told to make an appointment to see the cardiologist that had done my stress test and that was that. I guess I'll call him on Monday.
I still can't really do much without my heart beating really fast, and I still can't always take a very deep breath, but I guess I'll be OK for now. Hopefully.
That was really not the kind of adventure I wanted, but at least I got my ice cream in the end!