Xeno leaves the gym in an ambulance and learns about pleurisy in the Emergency Room

By | December 12, 2012

Xeno leaves the gym in an ambulance and learns about pleurisy in the Emergency RoomFolks, 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.

8 thoughts on “Xeno leaves the gym in an ambulance and learns about pleurisy in the Emergency Room

  1. John

    Thanks for being so candid. I have list here from an alternative nutritionist here in Florida named Dr. Samadhi Keever, PhD, AP from my wife’s yoga teacher training. Under pain and inflammation it says: eliminate tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, goji berries, paprika, tobacco. Yeah, tobacco is an obvious no-no, but I thought tomatoes, peppers, and goji berries were good for you.

    Instead, she suggests to add: ginger, flax, chia, burdock, white willow (alternative to asprin, cautioning salicylic acid sensitivity,) and tumeric (1 part tumeric to 1 part honey.)

    I hope this helps!

    1. Xeno Post author

      Thanks much!

      I’m still somewhat mystified by inflammation. Much research to do, but I’m always experimenting in hopes of finding the key. The first step seems to be a non-invasive way to measure it… What I’d like to have is a cheap saliva test for inflammation! Then I could see what increases and reduces it. Is there such a thing? Remember Xeno’s rule of pessimistic originality: Anything you think of has already been thought of an acted upon.

      Sure enough, a saliva test for inflammation is on the way:

      “Bio-medical researchers routinely measure biomarkers such as cytokines (IL-6, IL-1√ü, TNF-Œ±) and C-reactive protein (CRP) in blood in order to assess the presence of inflammation. In order to avoid the cost, inconvenience, discomfort, and bio-hazard risk associated with blood drawing, however, researchers have more recently been exploring the utility of inflammatory markers in saliva.

      Studies involving salivary IL-6, IL-1ß, and TNF-α have been appearing with increasing frequency, and interesting associations to psychological and physiological stress have been observed, along with associations to local inflammatory conditions such as periodontitis, diseases of the salivary glands, and oral cancer. The relationships of salivary levels of these cytokines to blood levels are still not well understood, however, and initial studies have suggested there is only modest correlation between the two fluids.

      In the case of CRP, there is encouraging research that suggests salivary CRP may be more strongly associated with serum CRP than is true for other inflammatory markers. CRP, which originates largely from the liver, is too large a molecule to pass from the circulation into the salivary glands by diffusion or ultrafiltration as do many other salivary analytes, and it is believed that small amounts of CRP enter whole saliva mainly as a component of the gingival crevicular fluid (GCF) that flows out from the junctions between the teeth and gums. Whole saliva is much easier to collect than GCF, which could make saliva the oral fluid of choice for routine assessment of CRP in clinical or field studies.” …


    1. Xeno Post author

      Thanks Mr. Bald! Yes, and how many 100 year olds do crazy fast sprints then bust a lung? None I know of, which should be some kind of sign to modify my workout routine … What do people do at 100? Sit and gloat about beating everyone else who only made it to 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85… ?

  2. Nathaniel

    I love how you described it as “would be highly annoyed’ when referring to not living to 100. That sucks though, stuff like that can cause a ton of anxiety. Good you were able to remember how to stay in a calm state.

    1. Xeno Post author

      Thanks! “remember life’s a show, keep ’em laughing as you go” 🙂 Now I’ve meditated in the face of death and lived to tell about it. It’s amazing that it can all just end in a few minutes. Enjoy your time!

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