I need to provide a disclaimer before I proceed with this post. This is not my current condition. Do not panic. I am fine currently. But I am a hypocrite, offering the “do as I say, not as I do,” advice.
You only get one warning. That’s it, just one. Depending on which function of the body it is, it could be nothing, or it could be really bad. Involved in as many of the peer support groups that I am, it is all too common for the messages “asking” what should be done, when an excruciating pain or uncontrolled dizziness is occurring.
You do not need to be like me and my fellow survivors either. You could be in perfect health when one of these situations sneak up on you. The point is, if it grabs your attention, it needs your attention. So then why is time wasted, when the answer should be quite simple? What good does asking my or anyone else, what we think you should do?
For the most part, fear. We do not want it to be what we think it might be. But there is literally only one way to find out, and only one person who can, and that would be a doctor. The good news is, that a doctor can also be the one to tell us it is nothing.
But if we are getting that warning, we are only getting that one warning, and there is likely not a lot of time to react. I have had multiple events over the last fifteen years, here comes the hypocrite part, that I have ignored warnings. One time, I was left no choice as I was taken out of my house on an ambulance stretcher at 3am.
In 2008, I was suffering a chest tightness for nearly four months before I went to the doctor. And then only on a hunch by my doctor, an unusual test was ordered, and thirty-six hours later I was having emergency open heart surgery. I was about to die from a fatal heart attack.
In 2012, as I mentioned, an early morning ambulance ride resulted in me being diagnosed with aspiration pneumonia, full blown septic. The bad part, I do not think I had any symptoms, or at least I did not recognize any. Yet, my bloodwork showed I had been septic for at least 48 hours. I should have been dead by then, untreated.
In 2019, again, a follow up test revealed I had another major blockage with my heart, yet I felt no symptom that I am aware of. The repair, thanks to advances in technology with my health history, was a lot easier than open heart surgery.
But while several of my episodes have been without recognizable symptoms, I have had plenty that did have warning signs. Years ago, I was left paralyzed in the middle of my work area, alone (because everyone else was on lunch break), with a piercing chest pain, unlike my other condition. I thought for sure I was having a heart attack, and was afraid to move, thinking that would be the last thing I would do. I would actually have several of these “attacks” over the years. Some would result in a trip to the ER, sometimes not. The point is, only one person could determine if it was something or not.
Later in 2019, I had another one of those episodes, that resulted in me being admitted. They were certain that something had happened, just not sure what. It is believed that I suffer from “lightning strikes” as one cardiac nurse calls it, a result of the type of bypass that I had done back in 2008 (more complicated to explain without detail on this post). There is nothing that can really be done for them, but let me tell you, they get my attention.
I know that I am not healthy as the rest of most I know. So when I do see a friend or acquaintance, talk about an unbearable pain in the side, chest, dizziness, whatever, I do not hesitate telling them to go straight to the ER. Time wasted with a serious warning like that can mean the difference between life and death. The best that can happen, is be told you are fine. But hopefully the worst, you are diagnosed with whatever is causing the symptom and it can be corrected. But you only get that one warning.