2023.01.08 Heart Attack Scare

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Last Wednesday (2023.01.04) I was standing at my desk at work when I noticed an un-ignorable ache in the upper-left quadrant of my chest. I rolled my shoulders and arms, to see if I could stretch out whatever kind of muscular knot it was, to no effect. Instead, I started feeling dizzy.

Now, I'm a 50-year-old man who takes medication to avoid having my blood pressure cause heart/brain to explode, so this is a constellation of symptoms I'm pre-disposed to be wary of. So I did what any neurotic out-of-shape health-conscious person would do while in their employer's high-density working lot: I Googled that shit.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Sentient beings of all sorts: the online search results were not reassuring. Quelle surprise.

So I lowered my powered standing desk, plopped myself down on my chair, and started to feel really dizzy - complete with tingling in my hands and fountains of cold sweat. I turned to my trusty design partner - Meredith - and told her vaguely that I didn't feel well and might need some help.

I put my head down in my hands on my desk and proceeded to feel very poorly indeed. Meanwhile, Meredith went full rockstar and called 911 to talk with the operator while also coordinating folks in the vicinity to check for possible supplies and facilitate the EMT's showing up. I feebly sent a barely-coherent text to Amy, and managed to copy/paste her number to my boss to keep her informed.

At no point did I pass out, but I definitely was not highly responsive and quite frightened. The EMT's showed up, and the whirlwind got underway in earnest. It was weird to be rolling out of the office on a gurney, with people staring.

They determined that I was not actively having a heart attack, so there was not a mad rush to the hospital. An IV was inserted for ease of access to my circulatory system, and an ungainly array of patches had been shaved on my chest to facilitate sticky EKG leads, plus my old friend the pressure cuff. Once at the hospital, in additional to constant electro-potential monitoring, blood oxygen saturation, and regular blood pressure monitoring, I also got a several rounds of blood tests (one lost, just to keep it interesting) and some x-rays.

The sum of the efforts determined reasonably conclusively that I did not have any sort of heart attack. And, technically, I appear to be in relatively good cardiovascular health - even my pre-hypertension appeared to be under better control that I had thought.

So, what happened?

Well, first and foremost, I had symptoms that one does not fuck around and find out about.

But in a more direct manner, there are several related elements that might be sufficient to explain everything. The chest ache showed to be very proximal to some broken ribs I suffered just over a year ago, so they might have acting up for the first cold snap since they "healed". The dizziness is very similar to one of the side-effects of the hydrochlorothiazide that I take for high blood pressure - and the night before I had taken a double dose, because I had missed one. The bonus shaking sweats and apparently lack of circulation might have been a panic attack brought on by my fears, and my generally high baseline of work stress.

From here, I need to get on with finding a new Primary Care Physician - so I can do a follow-up. There's going to be some unpleasant amount of fuss going forward at the office. So it goes. It also seems like a timely prompt to keep my wellness as a priority.