My Heart-Scare Yesterday

For those who have not seen or heard about this yet, Sandi took me to the doctor yesterday to confirm that I apparently do not have heart disease. For a variety of reasons, I’d developed a number of symptoms that resembled congestive heart failure (CGF) and for another variety of reasons, I didn’t do anything about that until those symptoms became severe enough that a nurse ordered me to go to the hospital immediately.

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Here’s a brief-ish overview:

Yesterday, I was commanded to go to the hospital by our insurance providers’ nurse-on-call after I’d described a worsening combination of chest-pains, weight gain, growing fatigue, and swelling of the extremities. Sandi came home from work and drove me to the clinic, where I got some tests and was diagnosed with costochondritis, not – thankfully – CHF

That scare came from the culmination of several years’ worth of physical and emotional injuries, my reaction to them, and the long-term results of both.

The full story involves:

* Two knee-injuries (the latter of which caused me to gain about 20 pounds and wrecked my posture, threw off my biomechanics, and ended most of the activities that kept me in shape until then);

* A long-term dental infection (which inflicted lasting physical and emotional damage on me until I finally treated it early this year);

* Arthritis and scoliosis in my lower back (exacerbated, if not caused, by the knee injuries);

* Years of-ass-in-chair work on my various projects;

* And the depression I fell under as a result of various personal, political and professional upheavals throughout the last few years.

All those factors exacerbated one another, resulting in chronic chest-pain that had recently become an everyday affair.

Costochondritis shares many symptoms of congestive heart failure, so I became quietly obsessed with the idea that I had it. Due to financial concerns, pressing deadlines, and stupid-ass guy stuff, I kept those concerns to myself until yesterday.

Heart disease runs in my family, and both Raven Bond and Stewart Wieck died of cardiac conditions in 2017. Raven, in particular, was worried that I had congestive heart failure, and often urged me to get tested for it. I got those tests shortly before he died, and although I received a clean bill of health (much to Raven’s relief), those tests were almost two years ago now. After Raven’s death, I began to wonder if the tests had been accurate, or if perhaps I had neglected my health so badly that I had acquired the condition since those tests occurred.

After Stewart, Raven and Coyote died, I went on a binge of grief-eating. That binge added 15 pounds or so, and pretty much anchored my ass to my computer chair for over a year… which, in turn, made my feet swell up like goddamned balloons (which, also in turn, made walking painful for me), and sapped whatever energy I had left.

Insert vicious cycle here.

Lately, the discomfort in my chest had become severe enough to wake me up at night. Although I didn’t think of it as “pain,” exactly, and it lacked the classic symptoms of a heart attack, the idea of heart disease kinda dug its way into my mind and set up shop. Given my depression in the wake of Trump’s presidency and Stewart’s, Raven’s, Coyote’s and Ember’s deaths, that idea had become almost appealing to me… which, of course, just made everything worse.

To top it off, I have (as some folks have probably noticed) an obsession with America’s grotesque health-“care” system and the absurd amounts of money it costs to diagnose and treat even minor illnesses. I have gone without health coverage for so long (and spent so much money on routine medical treatment even with coverage) that the idea of seeing a doctor at all is enough to induce quiet panic and drop me further into depression. Because our insurance covers so few therapists (and pays so little to the ones it DOES cover), the idea of going to therapy for that depression – and the associated costs of doing so – just makes the panic and depression worse. So, I have not done that.

(Yes, the national situation is absolutely fucking cruel, and lots of folks have seen me rant about this intolerable mess before.)

The other day, I made an unintentional “joke” about having a heart attack, and Sandi snapped, “NO.” The combination of the slip on my part and the vehemence on hers made me realize just how much of a dumbass I was being by keeping my fears, potential heart disease, and passively suicidal ideations to myself.

As I told Sandi yesterday on the way to the hospital, the absolutely worst thing I can imagine is losing her; thus, I was being a selfish idiot to risk making Sandi lose me.

Yesterday, I resolved to call our new insurance provider if I still had those chest pains in the morning. I did, so I did. After running through the symptoms, the nurse and I agreed that while a heart attack was unlikely, congestive heart failure was a distinct possibility. I texted Sandi, she came home, and we went to the emergency appointment the nurse had set up for me on the phone.

Y’all know the rest.

Going forward, I’m taking anti-inflammatories short-term so I can resume physical activities. I’m getting the fuck over myself, finally getting a damn therapist, and spending less time at my desk and more time getting back in shape, repairing the damage I’ve done to my body and my psychological state.

Because of an argument on my Facebook wall the other day, and an especially cruel comment made by a now-ex-friend, I want to make something very clear: This resolution to lose weight is not about fat-shaming; this is about treating injuries to my body and emotions that have had me in such pain that I’ve been quietly welcoming the idea of death from heart disease. Anyone else who feels moved to refer to my grief and its effects as “a poor-me story” can defriend themselves right fucking now, and then check themselves to see why they think such remarks would be remotely okay to make or excuse.

The continued rage and hurt I feel about that remark ironically contributed to the intensification of the chest-pains that drove me to seek help yesterday. That said, I anyone who feels they have a right to make such comments in the future can save themselves the trouble and just GTFO now. I want nothing to do with someone who hand-waves that sort of shit.

Although I have a pretty open and honest persona, I do not trust people easily or well. Until late 2017, my most intimate circle of trust was four people; since 2018, it’s been two, and I have done everything I can – even shutting them out of stuff I really should have told them about – to keep from (in my perceptions) “burdening” them with it. As I realized yesterday, partly through some of the things I admitted to Sandi, and partly through the physical results of those things on me, I had been locking a lot of stuff down and away that I really should be been dealing with in a healthier manner than I have.

Yesterday was a wake-up call for me, and I’m glad all it cost us was a few hundred bucks and a resolution to fix things I have let slide for too long.

THANK YOU, EVERYONE, for your support, friendship and encouragement. I appreciate it a lot, and I’m really glad it didn’t take problems more severe than these to get me to realize how much damage I’d been doing to myself.

Gonna get back to work now.

If and when you find yourself doing to yourself what I realized I was doing to myself, DON’T. Knock that shit off and seek help. I am fortunate this situation didn’t cost Sandi and me more than it has.

Cheers, y’all, and take care of yourselves.

*hugs to all*

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About Satyr

Award-winning fantasy author, game-designer, and all 'round creative malcontent. Creator of a whole bunch of stuff, most notably the series Mage: The Ascension, Deliria: Faerie Tales for a New Millennium, and Powerchords: Music, Magic & Urban Fantasy. Lives in Seattle. Hates shoes. Loves cats. Dances a lot.
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3 Responses to My Heart-Scare Yesterday

  1. Glad to know you are doing what you need to for your health. It is important. I know how screwed up this world is and its hard to fight the same battles mentally and physically and emotionally every day. In a funny way that is how I give my self a pep talk often. “You are a bad ass warrior. Want to know why? You fight the same demons every day and you know they will still be there tomorrow and yet you wake up and go to battle for your life once more. That is why you are a bad as warrior.” Same goes for your Saytr. Always Keep Fighting my friend.

  2. Sindocat says:

    Good to hear! Please do take care of yourself, and don’t take ugly responses personally – those are far more about the sad people who share them than about their chosen targets.

    Also, thank you for sharing! I need to do more for my own health. Your honesty about your scare – and response to it – are inspiring.

  3. seltzermaus oO says:

    Never let anyone dissuade you from sharing stories like this. I went through much the same before I finally got my ankylosing spondylitis diagnosed, and the treatment is still an utter mess. After having multiple docs tell me I needed to do back stretches or that I must have “sprained something and not realized it,” I eventually gave up seeking [medical] help until I had to have surgery. After, I wasted away. Bone-thin and depressed as hell, it took me a minute to realize there’s a lot of sneaky… feedback loops a person can fall into, and if it weren’t for my family I probably would have let it get a lot worse.
    Most don’t realize that by the time a person is willing to share like you have, it’s One Bad Thing that is really about 100- and, hey, maybe when enough people realize we’re all suffering the depredations of healthcare together, Good Things can start to happen.
    Best of luck moving ahead.

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