Tuesday, May 01, 2007

You Gotta Have Heart

A subject I'd just as soon not feel obligated to mention, but I figure it's best to get it out there as it happens, just in case...

I'm having some sort of cardiac problems, and I don't know what.

Saturday night, I awoke with fairly strong chest pains; however, it was hard for me to tell if they were heart related or sternal. Ever since I had my surgery in 2000, my sternum has been the source of intermittent pain. Saturday night, I had gone to sleep on my left side, with my should tucked forward in such a way that there was pressure on the sternum. I thought that might be the cause of the pain. On the famous "one to ten" scale (ten being the worst), I'd rank it as a four. If you put your hand on your chest as if you were doing the pledge of allegiance, the pain was most strong where the heel of the thumb rests on the sternum and where the tip of the middle finger touches the pectoralis muscle (the latter might be related to the mixture of numbness and sensitivity in my left chest area due to the redirection of the mammary artery to furnish blood to my heart).

The pain lasted for about ten minutes, but it was not accompanied by any increase in blood pressure or heart rate. When I had my heart attack, both my blood presssure and heart rate skyrocketed, so I took this as a good sign. I spoke with someone at Doctor Mike's office the next day, and the on-call person told me that it was probably an isolated event.

Problem was, it wasn't. Last night, at about 4 in the morning, I was awakened by more pain in my chest, just to the left of the sternum--again, about a four on the one-to-ten scale. Again, no elevation of blood pressure or heart rate, no radiating pain into my neck and jaw (I remember that intense pain from the heart attack--the pain in my jaw was as severe, or moreso, than the pain in my chest. It lasted for about ten minutes, then went away. Can't blame this one on positional causes, since I was lying flat on my back at the time.

I'm not having any pain when I exercise (which I still do faithfully twice a day), no shortness of breath, no weakness or fatigue... but the recurrence of the pain has left me more than a little concerned. It's nagging at much sufficiently that I have trouble concentrating on what I should be doing, like getting books processed at the store or preparing for Free Comic Book Day or helping my Dad.

And I find myself feeling a little be betrayed, because I think I've been doing the right things--watching my diet, exercising regularly, taking my meds faithfully, doing stress tests every six months, and so on--and I'm still having some sort of problem. There's a "this shouldn't be happening to me" response that I have to work to overcome.

Today, I did a few pre-emptive things. I made sure that Susan knew where our bank accounts were, I made sure that any credit card payments were made online so that there were no outstanding bills, I filed away the financial records that hadn't been filed in the past few weeks so that anyone else could make sense out of them. I have no idea what to expect, but I have to at least allow for the worst and try to plan accordingly. Morbid, perhaps... but I can't rule out any possibility.

I spoke to someone at Doctor Mike's office, but she said there wasn't anything she could do if I wasn't having chest pains right now. She said that if I do have a recurrence of the pain, I should go to the emergency room so that they can run tests; so now I have to wait, hoping that nothing else happens while at the same time hoping that, if it does, it's moderate enough that I can get to the emergency room for tests that might tell me what's going on.

And I suspect that this is as worrisome for Susan as it is for me--probably moreso, since I think it's only natural for us to worry more about others than we do about ourselves.


Bentochan said...

Oh, god, Cliff I'm so sorry. I'm going to hope and pray it's nothing.

Janice said...

I am obviously not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but if I were you, I'd call the cardiologist's office back and insist on an echo or other cardiac test. Can't believe they're not insisting given your history but are instead telling you to wait until potentially something happens again.

Hope the pain is not cardiac-related and does not recur. Will be thinking of you.