It's Not About My Heart

This has been such a strange week. My body turns on itself mid-morning and my upper arms and calves and head and shoulder blades ache, some heart beats are more or less intense than others, and I fall into brain fog and tiredness that sends me to bed. Something takes over my body, seems to move in and own it. For an hour or two or three. Or during this week, for most of the day.
I zeroed in on my heart as a potential cause because of those beats with different intensities. Called my cardiologist's nurse on Wednesday and Thursday, took Propafenone capsules both days to see if that would pull me back to normalcy. The best the doc's nurse could do on Thursday was move my scheduled appointment up by a week and tell me that she had texted the doc about my troubles.
By 4:00 yesterday afternoon, I thought I was lightheaded and I still had brain fog and aches, so I went on-line and reread symptoms of impending heart attacks in women. Should I err on the side of caution and get myself to the Hermann ER? Yup. I called Bea's Taxi, and then called her two more times as she made her way to my house.
"Sit in the front seat with me," she said.
By 5:00, I'd checked in at the ER, was given an EKG and then I waited with troubled folks, some writhing in pain, or slumped in chairs with hospital blankets over their entire bodies and faces, or watching noisy YouTube videos or walking back and forth in the hallway.
Earl called and I worked to dissuade him from coming to sit with me, but he insisted he'd be there soon.
"Bring a book," I said.
It was 7:00 when they called for me and we headed to a small curtained space. The nurse later told me it was good to be in a smaller space. Large spaces are reserved for life threatening emergencies.
A fourth year medical student arrived with dozens of quite specific questions. I liked his earnestness. He would report to the resident.
The resident doc pushed back the curtain, asked all the questions again. The nurse hooked me up to a blood pressure machine, took blood samples. I was whisked off for chest X-rays and the room where I was taken so reminded me of the room where Aggie had radiation treatments. Just as cold too.
The ER doc arrived and I gave my story for the third time. He listened intently and then he listened to my chest, held my wrist, felt my neck and back, legs and feet. Gave me a cup to pee in after the nurse unhooked all the apparatus.
We waited lab test results. Earl read his James Lee Burke novel and, wrapped up in those white cotten blankets, I read the NYT on my iPhone.
"I don't know what I'd do without you," Earl says.
We look at each other. I am more and more feeling that this is not about my heart, but I can't ascertain what body system is being preyed upon and is so overwrought. Really, it feels like I'm being poisoned. All summer I've been focusing on food and, for the most part, staying away from foods that make me ache or that make my lips crusty. Some of this is indeed about what I eat, but there is still something going on that I cannot put my finger on. It's time to visit with my primary care doc. Even though all the tests she runs come back 'within normal range.' Something is not normal.
The ER doc returns and stands by my gurney. I will paraphrase here, "Your heart is good. For a 72 year old woman, you are in fine shape. I don't know what's going on with you, but we've done everything we can to ascertain that you are not having a heart problem."
I like him. I like them all. They are thorough, uncondescending. I am not about to feel foolish for coming to the ER. I've felt awful for most of the week, unable to focus on anything for hours at a time.
The resident doc returns and says she is finishing the paperwork. She too, does not know why I feel the way I do. "I don't have the expertise to tell you," she says. I am paraphrasing again. "I'm an ER doc."
I sign paper work and she gives me pages of information on myalgia and body weakness. I will follow up with my primary care doc.
Earl and I arrive home at 11:00 p.m.  It took six hours for me to confirm that my heart is OK. And to learn that all these symptoms of mine may have little or nothing to do with my heart. This morning, as I write, my arms and head and calves still ache. Is it the endless rain? Or the onset of some autoimmune problem? I'm on a search because I don't like days when 'the meter doesn't move', when I give up work on anything whatsoever because of brain fog and tiredness.
And, my thanks to Hermann ER. I did need to know this is not about my heart.



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