Those of you that follow me on Twitter caught wind of this once I returned home Friday when I sent out the update “Guess who spent Friday night in the emergency room at the heart center?” As you can tell, it was indeed a Friday night from hell!
Starting about a week ago, Thursday November 20th to be exact, my family doctor had started me on new meds for anxiety and some other minor issues. It’s something I’ve been fighting off for awhile and I was looking forward to being stress free for a bit. Unfortunately, the meds didn’t work as planned!
By the time Monday rolled around 4 days later, I found my self at work and I was on edge. I had massively high anxiety unlike anything I had experienced before starting the meds. Muscles were tense, I was focused in on the worst possible outcome of anything I encountered for the day, jittery, couldn’t concentrate, the works. I initially wrote this off as side effects of the new pills and assumed it would pass in a day or two. Tuesday rolled around; all the same. Throughout the remainder of last week, the high anxiety remained prominent and grew worse as the week passed.
On Friday, I started out in much the same as the rest of the week; on edge, couldn’t concentrate, all of the normal symptoms. Except now, I was getting extra. In addition to the normal problems I had all week, I was now experiencing blurred vision, even less concentration, heavy and tingly arms, back pain between my shoulder blades, and profuse sweating from my palms. It was at this time I decided enough was enough and that this side effect wasn’t going to work itself out, so I decided to call the doctor.
On my first call, I landed in the medical assistant’s voice mail. I left a message, described the problems and waited. Seeing as how anxious I was already at this point, not an easy prospect. I waited roughly two hours and called again; voice mail. Finally, knowing that the doctor’s office closed at 4:30, I called again around 3:30 and told them I really needed to talk to somebody. While all of this waiting is going on, my anxiety is climbing exponentially and the symptoms are getting worse and worse. Third time was the charm though; they patched me through to a triage nurse and I finally got to plead my case. All this time, I figured it was nothing but a reaction to my new medication and told the nurse as much, and began to list off my symptoms. As I went through the list, she interrupted me after about the fifth symptom with “I don’t want to scare you sir, but those symptoms are possible indicators of a heart attack. You need to go to the emergency room, just to be safe.”
As you can imagine, this isn’t news that anybody wants to hear. When you’re in the grips of a panic attack (which I found out later was the culprit) it becomes even worse. So now I get off the phone with my heart racing, my breath coming in shorter and short gulps. I figured at this point I needed to call my wife to let her know even though I knew it would make her panic as well. But, I did the right thing and called her anyways and set off on my own to get to the doctor. (Stupid, I know!)
The triage nurse instructed me to head to the closest immediate care office and to explain to them I was having heart symptoms, they would take care of me. The nearest immediate care facility was halfway between home and work, so off I went. I shot through 4pm Carmel traffic all the while thinking I was in the throes of a heart attack. With my anxiety as it was, I was now imagining the further symptoms as well; tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, feeling faint, all that. I finally made it to the office after about fifteen minutes and stormed in pronouncing loudly that I was having heart symptoms and needed help! The nurse at the front desk looked at me annoyed and stated plainly, “They told you to come here? We can’t help you here, you need to go to the emergency room at the heart center.” This dumbfounded me of course, and I stood there staring blankly at the lady for a moment wondering how I could be standing here thinking I was having a heart attack and they could tell me they couldn’t help me. Finally, I stammered out “where is that?” and got directions, and set off again. The kicker was, the Heart Center was back across Carmel. Five minutes from where I work. Where I was at when I got off the phone with the nurse.
Eventually, I got the emergency room and they took care of me immediately. They took me in right away and hooked me up to the machines and started working their magic and tests. I wasn’t long before they assured me they thought I was fine and eventually the decision was made that my problem was a high anxiety attack brought on by my reaction to my new meds. It was still a traumatic night overall, but the doctor assures me that my ticker looks perfectly healthy after all the tests. My wife & daughter were understandably frantic by the time I came home, (the nurse told me I’d get to go home so not to have my wife drive in) and I was both hugged heavily and scolded (lovingly) for putting them through that.
In the end, all is well, I’m off the new meds and still twitchy as all hell! But, it’s getting better!