I was feeling somewhat celebratory earlier this week since it was my two year bilateral mastectomy anniversary on May 21st. I read somewhere that making it past the two year mark without recurrence is a considerable milestone. I’ll take it, but I’m not counting those chickens just yet. I am a fighter but also have a healthy respect for superstition. I am so thankful to my friends and family and all my pink warrior sisters for standing by me and lifting me up.
This is going to sound so cliché, but it is always fucking something. Late Tuesday night, around 11 p.m. I started getting sharp pains on the left side of my chest. The pain also radiated across to my shoulder. I know what you’re thinking because yeah that’s what I was thinking. HEART ATTACK. So I tried lying in different positions but nothing was helping. I don’t have any personal or family history of heart problems, no high blood pressure or cholesterol. I don’t even think I’ve ever had heartburn. But by the morning I was pretty freaked out. Tomas has had a really bad flu these past few days so I told him I was going to drive myself to the ER. He suggested I start with Urgent Care and even though I knew that was a pointless and useless idea I did it. Of course during my examination the nurse practitioner asked me “why did you come here and not the ER?” Me: “um…..” So against their advice I drove myself the two miles or so to John C. Lincoln North Mountain. Tomas was very sick and I was not going to ask him to drive me the two miles in his condition and I was closer to the hospital than he was. I texted Lili to to let her know what was going on. She asked me what does against medical advice mean? I told her it means I don’t want to pay a few hundred dollars for ambulance transport.
When I got to the ER of course it was filled with what appeared to be a bunch of people who did not look the least bit sick and meanwhile I could be having a heart attack. I was taken back quickly and given an EKG. No heart attack. Okay then, riddle me this, why does it feel like there is an ice pick stuck in my chest? No I am not exaggerating. I like to think I’m pretty tough but this was like no pain I have ever encountered. I was going to pass out. I asked the nurse if I could stay in the room on the table after the EKG and she said no sorry, we might need it for a cardiac patient. “Can’t I stay here until then?” “Um no, I’m sorry.” “You mean SORRY, NOT SORRY.” Bitch. I was ushered into a second waiting room with more people who, again, mostly did not look very sick to me. Well, except the lady who may or may not have had a broken leg. The pain was so bad I started panicking. And crying. Sobbing. Choke-sobbing, which was making the pain worse. Nobody made eye contact with me. In fact everyone pretty much acted like I wasn’t there. Nurses literally walked right by obviously making a concerted effort to not notice me. I guess until it’s your turn you just do not exist. Finally someone took pity on me and found a room for me. As long as you’re well enough to howl in pain it’s not considered a real emergency. After a while they finally gave me IV Morphine and Toradol which is an antiinflammatory. Then they had to give me MORE Morphine. That was when I started to be taken seriously and not like some psycho howler monkey. During this time I keep thinking what the fuck is this? Is it a tumor? Is it cancer metastasis? Because once you’ve had cancer, that’s how your mind works. I think I’ve been doing pretty well with my anxiety about recurrence. The panicky feelings may not be as acute now, two years later, but they are still there.
More tests were performed, chest CT, echocardiogram, and blood work. Cardiac enzymes were elevated. I had a cardiology and infectious disease consult and they both concluded I had pericarditis which according to the American Heart Association is described as follows:
“inflammation of the pericardium, two thin layers of a sac-like tissue that surrounds the heart, holds it in place and helps it work. A small amount of fluid keeps the layers separate so that there’s no friction between them. A common symptom of pericarditis is chest pain, caused by the sac’s layers becoming inflamed and possibly rubbing against the heart. It may feel like pain from a heart attack.” No shit.
I asked what causes it. “Sometimes we don’t know what causes it but it can be caused by a virus, is there anyone sick at your house?” “Well there’s a guy with a raging fever who’s been puking his guts out, does that count?” So after my echocardiogram to make sure that my heart wasn’t damaged by chemotherapy or radiation, they sprung me loose yesterday. I need to take 600 mg of ibuprofen twice a day and follow up with the cardiologist. I do not need more doctors. For the love of all that is holy, can I please lose some of these doctors?