Friday, January 10, 2014

My Last Nerve

I officially hate airplanes.
No, I am not scared of flying, or of heights, or of the chance of spotting a "sign" hidden in a crop circle that will cause a white girl with greasy black hair to emerge from my television and kill my family -- I love that part. I just hate everything else about them. 
The delays, the steadily declining customer service, the seats that are just too damn small, the inconsistency of the length of the seat belts (will I need an extender this time or will I be saved the embarrassment?), the medical emergency where I think I'm dying...

You read that right. 
I had a medical emergency this week as I was flying back from L.A.
War Eagle, btw- I was there for the National Championship game.  I wish I could blame the emergency on the heartbreaking loss of my Auburn Tigers, but I had sympoms leading up to the game that I chose to ignore. Like an idiot. 

At the end of last week I had some really weird feelings in my chest and left arm and a racing heartbeat, even when I was just sitting still. I'm a pretty anxious person anyways, so I figured it was just nerves of paying the bills and the trip out to Cali, so I chose to ignore it.

Come Saturday night, the first night of the trip, I woke up to a scary moment: I felt like I was falling off the bed and both of my arms were cold and asleep. I wasn't falling off the bed. I was completely still.Again, I ignored it, went back to sleep, and partied on in L.A. the next day.

Sunday and Monday: dizziness, racing heart, chest pain, tingling limbs. Ignored. 
Helloooo Beverly Hills! Well color me happy! There's a sofa in here for two! (sorry, I had to)

Tuesday: I'm feeling extremely weird and I tell myself that I am going to Vanderbilt's ER the minute I land in Nashville. I was praying that I would just make it back home. On the plane from L.A. to Seattle my left arm went completely numb and my chest felt like it was exploding. My heart was racing 90 to nothing, and my blood pressure skyrocketed to hypertension emergency level. My face went numb, I felt like firecrackers were going off in my eyeballs, my thighs were cold, and other random parts of my body were falling asleep. 
 The flight attendant had to page out for "medical personnel on board" and we had to do a special landing so I could get on an ambulance. The most embarrassing time of my life. My mom was freaking out that it was signs of diabetes, which in turn got me worried. I started freaking out that I had contracted diabetes and that it was too late- my arm was going to have to be cut off, along with all the other parts of my body that were numb. She told the flight attendant to get me some orange juice, but as I was semi-out of it, I somehow knew that all I needed was water. I refused the OJ. Once we landed, the flight attendant had to page out that there was an ambulance meeting us and that everyone needed to stay put until I got off the plane. 
I have never felt so bad about myself in my entire life. My mother is worried to death that I am entering a diabetic coma-- I felt so guilty, and still do, for putting her through that. The look on her face as I was in the ambulance absolutely broke my heart.

Our bodies are so brilliant. I knew that this episode had nothing to do with my glucose level. I don't know how, but I just did. I knew it was heart/blood pressure related. I could feel it. I thought I was having a stroke or a heart attack. 
Once we get in the ambulance they checked my blood pressure (which had scooted down to a nice "low" of 152/108 by that time), my glucose, tested the circulation of the blood in my left arm (the numb one), and a bunch of other tests to see what was going on. Luckily they did not see any signs of a stroke or heart attack, or blood clots, or anything that required an immediate trip to the emergency room. The left arm numbness is still a mystery, but one of the medics felt as if it could have been from nerve damage. They suggested I get some rest and see my regular doctor as soon as I could. The blood pressure was the main concern- it had to come down or I could suffer from some very serious organ damage should it get that high again.

We still had to fly from Seattle to Atlanta, then from there to Nashville. I was worried to death about the long flight, but there was nothing we could do. Since the polar bear vortex of death had all of America delayed and jammed up, we had several hours to decompress before the flight from SeaTac to ATL. But the minute we got in the air my left arm fell asleep. I took lots of deep breaths, and drank gallons of cold water. I kept my blood pressure down through silently meditating and praying. 
My left arm was asleep for the entire 4 hour flight.
P.S. those medics in Seattle were the sexiest men I've ever seen. 

Wednesday: I saw my doctor. I've lost 6 pounds since the last time I saw her! Blood pressure was 142/106. A little better, but alarming enough that she prescribed me blood pressure medicine. Then came the: "A person in their 20s has no business being on blood pressure medicine lecture." They did an immediate EKG and scheduled me for a cardio stress test and an echo. They also took my blood to examine for a bunch of other stuff. Doc thinks that I have a pinched nerve in my neck that caused the arm numbness, which led me to freak out, which skyrocketed my blood pressure, and being in a plane didn't help. Since both she and the medic believe that the arm numbness is coming from some sort of nerve damage, I feel slightly less paranoid that I have some serious underlying condition. Nonetheless, she is worried about my heart, my high blood pressure, and wants to make absolutely sure that there aren't any blocked arteries, or weird heart diseases causing the tingling, dizziness, racing heart beat, and all-around funkiness. 

Friday: I go in for the cardio stress test and the echo. Blood results came back normal all-around. Whew! Stress test consisted of weird breathing exercises through torture-chamber looking equipment, and riding on a stationary bike. The echo was basically an ultrasound for my heart. It was awkward and weird, and I hated it. Both results should come back at the beginning of the week. I was diagnosed with Mitral Valve Prolapse several years ago after overdosing on diet pills as a college cheerleader, so I'm scared that led to more serious heart problems as I gained weight. But hey, I've got all weekend to obsess and worry about what the results will be, so why get into all that tonight? ;)

It's so frustrating for me right now because I've lost 50 pounds, but yet these symptoms are just now showing up. I am currently prescribed to FOUR medications to treat the symptoms of my obesity: blood pressure, anxiety, and PCOS. Being overweight is slowly but surely killing me. Once I lose weight, these symptoms will go away and I will no longer have to be on medicine! As far as the frustration goes, I had to remind myself that symptoms of any disease or addiction are patient. A meth head doesn't lose all their teeth after getting high one time. An alcoholic doesn't have liver damage after getting drunk one time. An obese person doesn't develop high blood pressure and sleep apnea after binging for the first time. The symptoms slowly build up and if not managed, they will develop into diseases that will kill you.

Lately I have been showing out like crazy- drinking too much, not exercising like I should, binging, and eating portions big enough for a megalodon. These habits have been increasing my blood pressure and causing me anxiety because I know better. I honestly feel like this pinched nerve in my neck/arm, or whatever, was a sign that I have got to get better. If I had not felt my arm go numb, I would have had no idea that my blood pressure in that plane was at an emergency level that needed medical attention. The plane increased my blood pressure, and having the left side of my body go numb was my body's way of saying: 
HEY! You're literally getting on your heart's last nerve. 

And you will die. 

If the whole plane debacle had not have happened, I sure as hell would not have gone to the doctor; ergo... my scary high blood pressure would have gone unnoticed for who knows how long.

I don't think that we are given many chances in this life, and we have to be aware of the signs in front of us. Never again will I ignore what my body is trying to tell me. If we had not landed when we had, my hypertension emergency level blood pressure would have caused permanent organ damage.I could have died. Until I know what is going on with my heart right now, I am also thinking grateful thoughts that this happened, or I would not have gotten my heart checked out. 

If you think you might have high blood pressure, I suggest going to a pharmacy and checking it (most have free machines). Here is the American Heart Association's website- a great resource for learning about blood pressure. Understanding Blood Pressure

1 comment:

  1. This is really scary Lori! I am so glad you are ok and are feeling better. I will continue to pray for you as you continue your journey! I LOVE YOU!!

    ~Melanie S.