04
Nov
07

November 4, 2007

This story is called St. Vincent’s Massacre, but I’m not going to tell it with four-part harmony.

Well, for something like a year, I’ve had intermittent chest pain on my left side, and my doctor had ruled out heart problems with a battery of tests, and decided it was muscular pain related to the size of my breasts. As I mentioned previously, I’ve still been having the pains since the mastectomy surgery, so that seemed to pretty much rule that out.

Early Saturday morning, I woke up with a very intense pain in the usual place – it lasted about 10 minutes or so, then tapered off to “normal” levels (i.e., the usual 1-3 level of pain on the scale of 10, down from a 7 or 8). I managed to go back to sleep, and after I’d gotten up, I had various other symptoms (heart palpitations, numbness in my left arm, light-headedness, and tightness in my chest that felt like anxiety (even though I didn’t feel anxious mentally or emotionally)).

So Brian loaded me into the car, with my bag of knitting and a book, and drove me over to Urgent Care. Well, they got me right in, and stuck me all over with implements of detection, I mean, they stuck electrodes all over me, and they took an EKG. They gave me some children’s aspirin, and they handed me a piece of paper, and told me “Kid, go see the physicians in the Emergency Room.”

Remember St. Vincent’s? This is a story about St. Vincent’s. Brian drove me over to St. Vincent’s, where I was inspected, injected, detected, and selected, and all kinds of mean and nasty things. They took me into the pediatrics emergency ward, made me sit on a bed, and I was there two hours, three hours, four hours. I was there for a long time, and they said, “Kid, we’re admitting you.” Then I was categorized, prioritized, sanitized, and immunized. When they checked me out today, there was a binder with twenty-seven eight-and-a-half-by-eleven test results, with circles and arrows, and a paragraph on each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence in diagnosing me.

In the end, the biggest worry was that I’d thrown a clot and had a pulmonary embolism. After a CT scan, an EKG, blood tests, urine tests, poking, prodding, quizzing, being slimed with ultrasound gel, breathing radioactive gas, and being injected with yet more radioactive contrasting agent, I have been certified as glowing with good health (well, except for the cancer, which in theory is gone). I told the doctor that this is why I usually ignore symptoms, because either it’s called ‘female problems;” it’s blamed on my secondary sexual characteristics; or it’s an exercise full of sound and fury, and signifying nothing. He reassured me that even though the medical establishment is baffled about my symptoms, at least we ruled out a lot of nasty stuff, and that if I experienced the intense pain again (which could be neurological in origin, since neither Vicodan, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, nor naproxen seem to affect it), I should call him and he’d see me immediately.

What I learned from this is to always shave your legs, because you never know when you’re going to end up in the hospital.

Julie

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