I have written previously about the first time anxiety came to visit me. I remember thinking afterwards that I thought I could get through it on my own. All seemed to be going well for a while, but the worst was yet to come.
So I woke up during the night a few weeks ago feeling like I’d been kicked in the chest and was gasping for air a little bit but as there had been flu like things going around, had drink of water, walked around a bit and fell asleep again. I got up in the morning and went to work as normal but decided I didn’t feel quite right so headed around to a local doctor’s surgery to get checked out.
It wasn’t much of a wait which was a change and as I began to tell the doctor my symptoms, they seemingly became increasingly panicked and sent me for an ECG on my heart immediately. So at this point I was trying to keep calm and thinking of my happy place, while waiting for the ECG I got bloods done which, as I have gotten older, needles have become a less than favourite thing of mine so was getting a little sweaty at the thought of it. So off I go for the ECG and the girl doing it asked me if I was in any pain, to which I replied, “a little” and she came back with “well if you had to score it out of 10, what would it be?” I hate that question because the answer can vary the outcome so much. I went with a 7 and she handed me the print out and said to go back to the doctor. I looked at it on my walk back and noticed that it read “Myocardial infarction abnormal” AKA Heart Attack and at this point, started to breathe a bit heavier. I saw the doctor again and she ordered me to her room immediately.
The next think I know, I was presented with some aspirin & angina spray, all of which was a new occurrence to me and was apparently turning green with worry. So back I go to the ECG room and shortly after, the paramedics come to collect me and roll me into the back of an Ambulance and off I go to hospital. I wasn’t too worried at this point as there were no sirens going so I figured that this was a good sign but all the while, the only time I’d ever been admitted to hospital was when I was born so it was all a bit foreign to me. So in I go and am swarmed by a team of doctors and nurses and rolled into a waiting bay, plugged in for another ECG and sprayed yet again with some angina spray and then left lying there for a short while.
The pain started to flare up again so I flagged down a nurse who casually got my doctor and at this point I hear the words “he’s critical, he needs to go in now” and I’m thinking, who me? Oh ok, great. So whilst having a number of staff hovering over me, one doing another ECG, others talking in what sounded like code, another guy comes at me with a needle to take blood and I stopped him in his tracks and ever so bluntly told him to back the f**k off and that with all that was going on, I did not need to be stabbed right now. He argued back saying it was for my benefit so I reluctantly agreed and allowed him to put in a drip. So off I go into another part of the hospital and am plugged into a monitor where the questions begin.
Family history? Yes. Smoke? No. Drink? Hardly. Drugs? No. Overweight? You tell me buddy (I’m 5ft 11inches and 76 kilos). So at this point, feeling like I was the last to know anything, I start to cry as I called my mother who lived 500km’s away and was heading off on a 3 week holiday to Vietnam the next day, but the more I spoke and cried, the higher my heart rate went as per the monitor so I told her I had to hang up and calm down a bit and if she could get a family friend down to sit with me because at this point, no one knew I was here.
So in comes another staffer who I’d not seen offering me drugs to keep me calm, sure I say, why not? Well, I’d never taken anything like this in my life and let me tell you, I went off to a land of peace and calm very quick. So then I go for a chest x-ray and am then parked in an open corridor which was a hive of activity and left seemingly unattended but alas, was feeling pretty high so not bothered. At this point, our family friend arrived to my relief. From here they parked me in a more “long term” stay bay for the next 6 hours until my second lot of bloods.
Long story short, they found I hadn’t had a heart attack (thank god) but they put it down to me being under stress for a prolonged period of time and that it seemed to be anxiety induced and to consult my GP regarding this.
A lot of things run through your mind when you are initially told that you have had a heart attack and then rushed to hospital and fussed over madly without having a clue what is actually going on, but just led to assume that all is ok because you are alert enough to know what is going on. At no point did I think that it was all over, though initially your mind will tell you that something bad is going to happen, you must drive it quite hard to say that all is ok.
From there, it has been an interesting ride, phantom pains have occurred since, sleepless nights and irritable days, one more episode of a similar nature leading to another hospital visit but once again, all clear. The road forward is all science and evidence based and is a process of elimination and at times, seems like a best guess type situation but alas, we wake up each day and do the best that we can. My definition of stress has changed 10 fold though as a result and I have realised that stress in my life and my body is perhaps not what I had initially thought and felt. It turns out that it is not an overnight process to change the events, be they internal or external that are contributing to my stress levels.
Everyday can sometimes feel like a battle following a series of uncanny health events but alas, we must think good thoughts, eat good foods, get plenty of rest, exercise and nature and be social and make the most of life. 31 is not the age to be having stress induced anxieties, or worse, heart issues, 31 is the age to be enjoying life and making plans for a brighter future – so this is where I’ll be. Though I’m not always quite sure what that looks like, I feel closer and closer to it every second of the day.