So you might've noticed my tweets in the last couple of days being a bit... stressful. Here's the deal.
On Sunday afternoon around 1:30pm I noticed I was having chest pains... and only chest pains. It was too high and centered to be the heart, there were no other heart attack like symptoms, it was just pressure while vertical and pain (typically 3, occasionally up to 5, on the 10-point scale) while horizontal (and worse when lying on my right side). My BP was elevated, though not to critical levels (maybe 160/90 ish), and my pulse was a little higher than usual. After some discussion we figured it wasn't worth a 911 call for an ambulance ride and I'd see how I felt in the morning and act accordingly. I did pop some aspirin (around 3pm, 7pm, and 11pm) just to be on the safe side.
On Monday morning, despite not sleeping well — did I mention I usually sleep on my right? — I felt well enough to go into work. I did, though I walked slower than usual from the parking structure to the office. I lasted until... well, I'd've left at 7:45am but since my PCP's office opens at 8am I figured I'd call them when they opened: They'd either want to see me on-site (and they're on the way home so may as well check "now") or want to send me to the ER. Despite my noting the pain location and duration — about 18–19 hours at this point — they sent me to the ER and called ahead so that when I got there, around 8:30am, I was "the expected chest pain."
Anywho, I cleared through reception and right into triage. BP and pulse were still high, so they got me into a curtain area (South 33) and gowned up. They got an IV port in and took blood to run labs, hooked me up for a 10-lead EKG, and got a chest X-ray. They gave me more aspirin and 2 doses of sub-lingual nitroglycerin; the first dropped the pain from a 5 back to a 3, and the second down to a 1. While waiting to get the initial labs and a quick read of the X-ray back, three med students asked if they could do some Q&A. I said yes, and noted that it was a teaching hospital and I was unpleasantly surprised to hear how many patients were unwilling to help train the proto-doctors. Anyhow, that killed 15 or 20 minutes of time. My blood pressure didn't crash on the nitro — I think it was 115/75 — so after a while they moved me, gurney and all from the initial-visit curtain area over to the cardiology monitoring area (and curtain West 86). The nurse there got me hooked up to a more-permanent 5-lead monitor (EKG, pulse, and respiration, more or less), and since my oxygenation was good they let me leave the pulse-ox monitor off my finger. I got there a bit before noon and they let me order lunch (I wound up getting a turkey-n-swiss sandwich with lettuce and tomato, side of chips and pickle, and condiments to make Russian dressing).
I spent most of the next 22 hours bored out of my skull and trying not to eavesdrop on the not-a-heart-attack in curtain 85 (who was driven in by family) or the not-a-heart-attack in curtain 84 (who got an ambulance ride as he'd fallen down and bruised himself). I also tried to limit my use of the iPhone since I didn't have a charger cable with me. They did draw a second round of blood and take a second 10-lead EKG; they didn't tell me that I could remove those 10 electrode pads, so they pinched and pulled most of the rest of the day. I ordered baked lasagna and a side salad for dinner around 6pm. (And I should say, stereotypes notwithstanding, the food I ordered arrived in reasonably-sized decent-tasting portions and at the appropriate temperature. Kudos to Dietary Services.)
I wound up getting maybe 4 hours of sleep overnight, interrupted by occasional bathroom breaks, since if my monitor wasn't going off, someone else's was (in large part because disconnecting your monitor plug to go to the bathroom sounded an alarm. Every. Freaking. Time). They wound up getting a third EKG off the machine without waking me, too. I wound up having to call for the nurse a couple of times: The first time was because the IV port had managed to pop out of my elbow; luckily by that point they weren't going to want a third round of labs so she just removed it. The other was because the monitor was showing a "Leads Fail" error; it turns out one of the 5 "long term" electrode pads had lost its stickiness and was not making enough skin contact, so we replaced it. Whee: Fun and excitement in the cardiology monitoring department.
Tuesday morning I got a breakfast snack of Cheerios, a strawberry yogurt, and a fresh orange around 6am, but because cardiology might've wanted a stress test they didn't want to let me order a hot breakfast. I also got clearance to remove the 10-lead pads, so those came off as soon as I could lift the gown away. Eventually the nurse practitioner came by to go over my results and explain the rest of the process (wait for cardiology to determine what the next steps would be), and the ER attending came by to go over my results and explain the rest of the process (ditto), and finally the cardiologist came by to go over my results and explain the rest of the process. They'd determined it wasn't a heart attack (yay), a blood clot (yay), the onset of pneumonia (yay), a pulmonary embolism (yay), or a collapsed lung (yay); we're not sure what it was, and the nitro seems to have cleared it up anyhow, but we're operating on the assumption it was musculoskeletal and not cardiac. She felt a stress test wasn't necessary and I was happy to agree. I should follow up with my primary care physician (and my annual physical is in just under a month, actually, so we'll cover it then).
The nurse came back in with the discharge paperwork (which I could sign electronically) and unhooked the remaining leads from the electrode pads. She stepped out so I could get out of the gown, get the pads off (along with small quantities of skin and hair, ow), and get dressed. She escorted me to the exit — I suspect in part to finish out her shift, as I got to the checkout station just before 11am when her shift was to end. They mentioned my co-pay, I noted that while the co-pay was waived when patients are admitted and I wasn't technically admitted, I did spend the night in observation. They agreed to bill the insurance company and see if they'd kick it back out; after all, I had been there for over 26 hours.
Got outside to cold gray drizzly weather and just missed the bus back to campus, so I got to wait another 10 minutes for the next one. (Yes, I could've walked 30 minutes to campus... right after what wasn't a cardiac event, on maybe 6 hours of sleep over the past 2 nights. I chose to wait 10 for the 10-minute ride to the stop nearest the parking structure.) Got to the car and home without incident by about 11:45am, ate lunch, took my morning meds (since nobody'd written orders for them at the hospital), and took a much-desired shower (to smell less like hospital and to get the remaining electrode pad glue off). I even managed to attend (via video conference) and help run the 3pm monthly meeting I'm supposed to facilitate.
Now, of course, despite not having slept much in the past 2 nights, I can't get to sleep.