Folks, I honestly thought I was going to die tonight. I try to avoid hospitals at all costs, but after pushing myself beyond my previous limit while doing sprints, I had sudden crushing/stabbing chest pains in my left upper chest.
The way it felt, if I took a deep breath the pain would get so bad that I was sure my racing heart would go into arrest and quit. When it seemed to be getting worse and not better after 5 minutes, I called for help. A cool paramedic did an EKG and said I was not having a heart attack. Ok, great! But why does my sudden onset chest pain feel lifethreateningly serious??
I could not sit or lie down or the pain would get worse. The paramedic said he could not be sure it wasn’t a heart attack without my doing the blood tests in the ER. With the pain increasing, I could hear the voice of the Kaiser Permanente (my health insurance) phone recording lady saying, “If you feel you have a life threatening emergency, go to the nearest hospital.” I sure did feel it was life threatening.
So, I had them take me to the nearest ER, which was not a Kaiser hospital. I’m expecting to have to fight with Kaiser over the payment. Anyway, in the ER my chest pains are still getting worse with each deep breath. I’m on the EKG there and they take three vials of my blood. Next the doctor wants me to lie down for an exam, I can’t, when I do, it feels like I’m triggering the heart attack.
I give it my best shot and BAM! A pain of 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. I tell the doc “that was a ten” then have him call the X-ray people back that I’d previously turned away. (A chest x-ray that is only as much radiation as “a day in the sun”? I doubted that story… ) As I was waiting for the death ray on wheels to show up, I suddenly felt fixed. That last Superbad pain had moved something back to where it should be. I could now take deep breaths and lie down without the feeling of a vice grip on my aorta!
So, it seems that I ran so hard a lung got shoved and caught on something it shouldn’t. When the blood tests came back fine, I was diagnosed with Pleurisy and was discharged. The condition, I was told, is not life threatening and I could continue to exercise.
So, I jogged several miles from the ER back to the Gym and my car. No further chest pains.
The way this ER doctor described the problem was that the lungs are a balloon inside a balloon and they can get stuck together due to inflammation, causing terrible pain. The normally smooth muscle gets rough and parts stick together. This made more sense with regard to how my pain felt than anything I’d heard before. I’d previously been diagnosed with “chest wall pain,” but that didn’t fit the amount of pain, connection to my lungs, or the fact that the EKG showed an arrhythmia connected to my breathing.
By the way, staying calm didn’t help the pain a bit. I was able to meditate, I was mentally at peace, smiling even, no panic, but my adrenalin was still racing my heart and the pain didn’t go away … because it was not due to stress, but due to a lung injury.
I am very glad to be alive tonight and I hope this story helps someone some day. Frankly, with all the work I do to stay healthy, I’ll be highly annoyed if I don’t live to be 100. 😉
I do have to fix the inflammation that caused problem in the first place. I am working with my nutritionist on that.