Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Heart of the Matter

There is nothing worse than not feeling well.  For a little over a month, my chest has been killing me. Yeah.  Yeah.  Yeah.  People hear the words "chest" and "pain" together and all they think of is 1) Oh my god, she's having a heart attack and/or 2) Oh my god, she's dying.  Seriously.

At least that's what I think of.  And being the typical, in-denial type of chick, I ignored the signs as long as I possibly could.  And they kept getting worse.

So FINALLY, at the encouragement of my husband, I did make a doctor's appointment.  And I really hate doctor's appointments.  I mean the entire time I'm sitting there, all I do is convince myself something is definitely wrong.  I don't just sit on the stupid gurney-thingy either.  I'm analyzing the charts, checking my BMI (which is in the normal, healthy range), and read anything I can get my hands on.  Then the knock on the door comes and I leap back up on the chair, pretending I've been patiently waiting the entire time.  Whatever.

During the "exam", I swear they know exactly what is going on.  They're just not telling me.  Yep.  This is where the paranoia sets in.  Everything he asks of me, I do--meanwhile, my brain is breaking it all down, coming to one conclusion--something is terribly wrong and he's trying to figure out how to tell me.  There is a small, sane part of me that is actually dismissing the crazy talk simultaneously--hoping for a good outcome.

And usually there is one.

This time, the first diagnosis was costochondritis.  As I read up on it, I don't seem to qualify.  I'm no teenager, after all...  I accepted the diagnosis and began the ibuprofen regimen.   Oh joy.  After two weeks, and a stomach which could no longer tolerate the ibuprofen, the pain hadn't dissipated.  At all.

So back in I went--the same rig-a-ma-roll happening all over again.  This time with my husband in tow.  My support system allowed my brain to be a bit at ease, until the doctor called me later on that evening wanting me to come back in for an EKG.  Okay.  Really.  I'm a bit young for that.  And no, this is not denial--I AM young.  Dammit.  He wanted to rule out periodontitis.

I dragged my husband back with me--I mean who wants to get all hooked up and be alone.  Not me, thank you very much!  After the quick 10 minute ordeal--with 8 of the ten minutes the time it took to hook me up to the machine--the doc came back on in to give me the good news.  Or so I was hoping. He didn't like some of my "T-waves" and could not rule out the periodontitis.  Oh joy.  Next stop--on over for an echocardiogram and a treadmill stress test.  Seriously.

Two days later, my husband and I head over to the clinic where I'd be getting tested.  After getting checked in, we go up the elevator to the cardiology wing.  The moment I stepped off the elevator, I knew I was NOT in the right place.  It was the senior center USA.  And me.  They even looked at me wondering what the hell I was doing there.

I am young.  I am healthy.  I still workout on a regular basis.  I don't drink soda.  I only have 1-2 coffees a day.  I am not a heavy meat eater.  I actually eat very healthy--and yes, even breakfast every day.  I love my veggies.  I drink plenty of water.  I'm not overweight.  I'm not a smoker, nor am I a drinker.  This is ridiculous.

First stop was the echocardiogram.  The technician was very nice.  Except for her straight face.  I couldn't get a good read on her.  And as I looked up on the screen, at my beating heart, I had no idea what I was looking for.  She kept measuring these huge dark spaces.  Several times turning up the sound and I could hear the life inside of me.  Kinda cool.  Then she let me go and do the stress test--a positive!  If she didn't give the okay, it meant bad news.  I got the okay.
Me ready for the echocardiogram!

The stress test was interesting.  They hooked me up to eight different cables and gave me some insights as to what would happen.  Every three minutes the incline and the speed would increase.  "I so got this," was all I could think about.  I workout dammit.  I can run.  I've learned how to breathe.  They told me my heart rate needed to hit a minimum of 150 to get a good reading.  "I can do this in my sleep," is all I thought.

And I did.  I got an "above average" reading for the time I was able to last during the test.  And the chick didn't finish her sentence with the "...for your age..." either, which made me happy.  My heart recovered quickly--another strong sign of a healthy heart.  She said my doctor would call me with the results, but not to worry.

So of course, I did.

When he called me back, there was good news.  Well, good news and bad news.  The great news was I do have a very healthy heart.  The bad news--the pain isn't going away.  They believe it to be muscular.  I have to stay away from Crossfit--probably the catalyst of all these injuries--and keep working out at the gym.  I now have to do physical therapy to work out the pain.  That will start on Friday.  Which is fine.

The scare though--the scare of something being wrong with my heart really left a mark on me.  It's not like a leg or an arm or a knee.  It's something that cannot always be fixed.  It's something that's needed to live.  And it scared me.  I think good things can come from bad situations--from scary situations--and for me, it made me take a good look at my health.

When I think about retirement (hopefully in 12 years), none of it will matter if I'm not in good health.  So for 2014 I plan on still eating healthy, still loving my veggies, still planning to go to the gym, still planning to steer clear of soda, still plan on having my Starbucks (although I have switched to decaf...sometimes...), still plan on being conscious about my weight and my water intake.  And I've added a new little something for my health--wine.  I need more wine.  I need to relax, to take the time to chill.  To stop worrying so much.  And wine is going to help me get there.

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