Well, I just had the scare of my life Monday morning: I was finishing up my shower when a sudden squeezing sensation hit me smack in the middle of my chest, sending my heart rate into the 120s and radiating to my throat, jaw and left arm. I got short of breath. I felt dizzy. I was hot and cold at the same time. And I was terrified
. I've had palpitations before, as well as some funky stuff on previous EKGs that suggested a previous silent MI, but I've never had anything like this.
So I did the typical nurse thing: I chewed an aspirin tablet, then debated with myself for a few minutes. Was it really a heart attack? Should I call my husband to take me to the ER? (I actually do know better than to drive myself in such a situation.) Should I call 911? Or should I just sit down, rest for a few minutes and see if it got better on its own?
The squeezing/pressure sensation didn't last long, but the dizziness, the numbness in my arm and the choking sensation stayed, so reluctantly I called the paramedics. At the ER I was given nitro, which helped somewhat but also gave me a ferocious headache, and while my EKG was unchanged from the last one, the doctors decided not to take any chances, so I was admitted for a full cardiac workup to rule out MI.
Here's where things got really interesting. Other than having my kids, I've never been an inpatient in a hospital before, and let me tell you, it's a whole different world! It's sooooooo strange being a patient in the hospital where you work.......of course, I received VIP treatment all the way, but the whole experience was just surreal. They hooked me up to telemetry, and the first time I popped a lead off the tele nurse just about had a fit---she called my room in a panic, then laughed with relief when I answered the phone, obviously NOT in asystole, and said "Marla, for God's sake, fix your leads, you're flatlining!!" It got to be a joke---I called it "do-it-yourself tele"---because I was constantly popping off my leads and they'd call me, instead of my nurse, to check 'em! :chuckle
They ran a series of cardiac enzymes---all normal---checked my lipid profile (cholesterol's in good shape, but I do have high triglycerides), and did several more EKGs, all of which were unchanged. I felt utterly crappy---it seemed all I could do was sleep---but I think it was partly because I wasn't allowed any caffeine! It looked like I was going to be able to come home yesterday, but then my left arm went numb on me again, so my doc said "Huh-uh" and I was put on Fragmin and nitro-paste and kept for another night.
Then this morning, they did an echocardiogram and an adenosine myoview......now THAT is quite an experience! But thanks be to God, that test also turned out "stone normal", as the MD phrased it, so I not only got to come home tonight, I don't even have to have the other test they were planning to do. Yippee!! I'm OK!!
However, I am taking this little incident the way I'm sure it was meant, and I'm going to be making some changes in the way I do things. I've got to get the blood pressure under control and keep it there. I've got to stop using so damned much salt, and I've got to stick to a lower-fat diet. AND, I've got to get back to exercising again. There's no two ways about it---I was lucky this time. I've been warned. I've still got time to fix things......but I can no longer rely on dumb luck to protect me from disaster.
And I learned something else (other than increased empathy for my patients!). I found out just how many people care about me, and how many good friends I've made where I work. Every single staff member who heard that I'd been admitted came to see me, to hug me, to pray with me, to offer their support, to tell me how much they loved me and wished me well. They brought me flowers, gossip, and every comfort they could find. Even the VP of Nursing came down to see me and to suggest the hospital's cardiac rehab program, which she told me will be free of charge......she even teased me about how I looked in a patient gown ("That is definitely NOT your color"). :chuckle The staffing office took me off the schedule for the week so I wouldn't have to worry about calling in; my manager told me not to worry about missing work and gave me a big hug; even several of the physicians and the ancillary staff stopped in to say hello and to wish me well.
So I'm feeling very blessed tonight as I sit here in front of the computer, safe in my own home with my family and my dog and my cats, and understanding for perhaps the first time in my life that I have made a positive impact on many, many lives. One of my closest friends at work, a male nurse named Kris, hugged me and told me how much he loved me and was so happy I was OK; the staffing manager came in this morning during one of my innumerable naps, and even kissed my forehead as she told me not to worry about anything, my job was safe and they would welcome me back when I'm completely back to normal ("and not a moment sooner").
And I'm glad to be back here at allnurses.....even though my absence was not long, I really missed you guys.
I'll 'chat' with you more tomorrow.