Last night, the upper left side of my chest hurt in a (terribly painful) way I'd never felt before, but I decided not to go to the ER because it was very late and my daughter was already asleep (what was I going to do, wake her up and drag all of us to the hospital for a fun sleepless overnight stay?). I thought to myself this probably wasn't a heart attack but something that would go away--as the aspirin I took helped and I was breathing normally again in about twenty minutes.
This morning, though, the chest pain was there again though milder, but now my left arm was numb. Honestly, I was scared. I debated going to the ER, but I had to take my daughter to school and had a lot of work to do, having just come off of vacation (and as a freelancer, if I take off even for sickness it means I don't get paid). Besides that, though, how embarrassing is it to call an ambulance for something that could be nothing? The biggest factor was that going to the ER is my officially least favorite experience: hours or days of multiple strangers coming in and poking you and asking you the same questions over and over again and carting you around in a wheelchair while you're worried you might be dying or catch something else at the hospital. Been there before. Avoid as much as possible.
But you know what's even crazier? The fact that I debated it this morning. Weighing "I have no time for this" and "the ER fills me with dread" against "I don't know if I'm going to die in the next half hour." Debating trying to get some work done before calling the ambulance…in a situation that I thought might be fatal.
I was so scared.
But I called anyway. I wrote a post about heart attack symptoms on Lifehacker not long ago (http://lifehacker.com/know-the-warning-signs-of-a-heart-attack-theyre-differ-1638203366), but let me tell you, it's a lot easier to say "if you experience these (perhaps very mild, not-at-all-like-a-heart-attack) symptoms go to the ER right way" than it is to do it.
It's expensive and inconvenient and draining on all levels. (My insurance deductible was $150 for the visit--modest compared to the $500-1000 deductibles other plans have, and I feel truly sorry for people who don't have affordable emergency health coverage.) But it was worth it for me, because I can stop thinking about leaving my family too early or, at least, today.
In my long-winded way, I just want to say not to be embarrassed or hesitant about going to the ER in this kind of situation (or seeking medical help for any condition really). It turned out that it wasn't a heart attack but, the doctors think, inflammation in my chest cartilage/bones and/or muscles. That, however, is circumstantial to the point of this post.
Important information from the American Heart Association: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/Heart-Attack_UCM_001092_SubHomePage.jsp
Have a very happy New Year, folks!
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