My trip to the ER

Monday was my first experience with going to the ER unexpectedly. Not that anyone should have to lay claim to that sort of thing, but I now can. While it was happening I was very scared and very convinced it was the end of the world. Looking back after being discharged I felt silly, but then I remembered fellow blogging friends who have also gone to the ER only to learn they were essentially “OK” and so I share my tale.

For the past few months/weeks I’ve had various episodes of feeling like my heart was out of sync and general illness which would pass a minute or two after onset. I’ve been ignoring these things thinking it was not a big deal or not wanting them to be a big deal while I waited for the stress test (Feb 2nd). The past few weeks I have been unable to stand for long periods of time. Oddly sitting is fine, and walking is wonderful, but the moment I’m not moving I become overwhelming disoriented.

On Friday I started feeling these issues on a much greater scale, but tried to stay calm. I even went to bed massively early, thinking I was simply tired and stressed. Saturday more of the same, which ended in having dinner with Tom while I Googled things about heart attacks, thinking I was in the process of having one. My chest felt heavy, my head was fuzzy and my arm was tingling. Again I decided I would live and went to bed. Sunday was really terrible, I couldn’t even eat without feeling ill, but I didn’t want it to be serious so I tried to ignore it. I know so many people think I’m a dumby at this point…and I probably am? Sooo when I went to work Monday I just wanted to do my job, I just wanted to be OK. I sat through a few sessions, but I couldn’t focus on what the client was saying and I kept feeling like my whole body was a giant heart beat. I finally knew something was wrong when I started dry heaving in the bathroom. One of the my coworkers took my pulse and blood pressure, which was in the “normal” range, but incredibly high for my baseline. At this point I left work and drove to the ER which was less than a mile away.

I called my Mom crying and freaking out, convinced I was going to die or wake up post-op with a missing heart or something. After being admitted/looked at…I spoke with nurses and a doctor and another attending doctor. They ran another EKG on me. I love how the EKG tech just handles boobs like they’re no big thing. Finally after much waiting and feeling ill and not knowing I was able to speak with a doctor on what had happened.

I had a vagal response. Which looks sexual when written and sounds silly when pronounced (it’s like “bagel”) but apparently is a real thing. The vagal response is usually what makes someone faint, only mine didn’t, and it’s only dangerous if you faint and land on something. Other than that, a-ok.

Per the Mayo Clinic:

“Vasovagal syncope (vay-zo-VAY-gul SING-cuh-pee) is the most common cause of fainting. Vasovagal syncope occurs when your body overreacts to triggers, such as the sight of blood or extreme emotional distress. The trigger results in vasovagal syncope — a brief loss of consciousness caused by a sudden drop in your heart rate and blood pressure, which reduces blood flow to your brain.

Vasovagal syncope is usually harmless and requires no treatment. However, you can injure yourself during a vasovagal syncope episode. Also, your doctor may recommend tests to rule out more serious causes of fainting, such as heart disorders.”

Per Wikipedia the following are sometimes triggers:
  • Prolonged standing or upright sitting
  • Standing up very quickly
  • Stress
  • Any painful or unpleasant stimuli, such as:
    • Watching or experiencing medical procedures
  • Sudden onset of extreme emotions
  • Lack of Sleep
  • Dehydration
  • Random onsets due to nerve malfunctions

Since there isn’t treatment for it, I can only try to learn to control it if it happens again. The doctor thinks it’s probably related to what is going on with my testing and being overly aware of my body and it will fade with time once I have answers. It was NOT an anxiety attack. To me they sound similar, but the doctor was very stern in my understanding it was different. The EKG they ran also came back abnormal. So the good news is I’m not doing all of this for nothing, there is something “off” we just don’t know what or to what degree. Oh and she doesn’t think it was a heart attack. The other good news is the new EKG shows no new damage or risk of impending heart attack.The bad news? Once someone has one of these episodes it’s more likely to have another and more likely it will be severe. I’m hoping the Fri-Mon was my serious cycle through.

See image for where the heck the nerve is located. Hint, look at the top in the yellow…notice how it associates with the heart, lungs and down into the stomach. Fun thing to have go haywire, huh?

Tuesday at work was much smoother. My appetite was back (didn’t even realize it was gone until I noticed how hungry I was). Sessions were productive and I didn’t feel ill mostly all day. A few moments here and there, but I kept it in check.

Your turn…what embarrassing and stressful experiences have you had with the ER?

6 thoughts on “My trip to the ER

  1. I had a racing heart beat at a race, stopped when to medic and when he was taking my history about being a marathoner, he joked: So you run marathons, but you stopped 2/10ths of the way in on a 10k… it was funny though. He calmed me down. I had surgery in Nov and I am doing much better.

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