Stress Induced Angina

By Molly MacDonald

Well, just a few days after posting Achey Breakey heart, I, yes moi, myself and me, started experiencing a little heavyness in the chest, right between my breasts . . . . the full D left breast and the deformed B right breast, where tissue was removed almost four years ago for DCIS.  That breast has a little divot in it, that I call the sand trap.  I rarely really give the girls a good look.  And when I show others, they turn away.  Not a good sign.  And ask me, “Can’t you fix that?”  But I digress . . . .

I kept telling myself, “You are just worried about Becky”, my friend with the new pig valve.  And for days I ignored the pain, thinking it would go away.

“Maybe it is just heartburn,” I thought.  Although it was not accompanied with any kind of feeling of food in my throat.

By Friday, the 13th ,yeah, I know, the pressure had become so great I thought I best get to the doctor, where the usual weight ( I always stand backward to the scale, because although I think I look pretty good in my clothes, that number can mess with my head, if you know what I mean) temp, blood pressure was taken and an EKG.

I sat waiting for the doctor, a small Indian man, who had lovingly cared for my mother in the last four years of her life, even making housecalls.  I trusted this man with my mother’s life, and now mine.

One look at the EKG and Dr. Garg said, “Vwell”, in that Indian accent, you have a slight problem. and I am thinking, NO, What, give me that EKG and SHOW ME what you mean.  Garg takes me into the next room where there is a large scale full color poster of the heart. Nothing one would hang in one’s home.  He starts pointing and talking and I am thinking, Gee God, I have a heart problem.  This is impossible.  I have no family history of heart disease, ditto for breast cancer; no one in my family has had a heart attack; ditto for breast cancer, no one had that either and now he is telling me in this mental fog where I am only partially understanding that the EKG is showing some kind of “impressive” blockage from the arteries leaving my heart.

He tells me to lie down on the examination table and I, of course, obey and  start to cry.  I am reminded of the many times, my mother laid on this table while Dr. Garg examined her own failing  heart (but she was almost 90 and sooner or later something had to fail).  I want my mother, but she is dead.  My  husband is downtown 25 feet high on a lift installing a grand graphic for The  Star Wars exhibit at The New Detroit Science Center.  My oldest daughter is living in LA dressing the movie stars.  My second daughter is in Ft. Lauderdale dancing ( and that is a whole nother subject), my third daughter is at work and planning to come to spend the night.  My son is in college and my youngest son is just getting out of school.

Was this previous blog a warning to myself, I wondered?

It was decided I should go to the hospital for further testing and so my dear friend Susan G, Director of The Pink Fund, and a recent Breast Cancer Survivor, picked me up and took me to the ER, where I walked in casually as if visiting and said to the FAT man behind the desk, “Er, um, I am having impressive chest pain.”

They get me in a room and start the usual stuff all over again, you know temp (normal) blood pressure (normal) EKG (abnormal).  And then I moved to another room with an actual door as opposed to a curtain and lots of plugs and equipment I suppose in case I “crash.”  They get everything going again, take my  history, a chest x-ray and then some woman shows up at the entrance to my room and says, “We’re here to take you for your cat scan.”

What for?”  I ask.  And she tells me it is to check for a blood clot in my lungs which practically send me into cardiac arrest.    What blood clot?  Did they see something in my x-ray to make them think I have a blood clot in my lungs?  I am looking at my nurse, imploring her to set this woman straight and tell me this is all a mistake.  She says calmly “this is protocal, standard of care that we perform on everyone who comes in here” and I look at her and whisper in my most officious and assured voice.  “Then somebody ought to tell this woman not to say things like this to a patient, particularly an excitable patient like myself.”

After injecting me with a small amount of morphine for the pain. . . . . whoaaa, this must be what a drug trip feels like,  and taking my blood pressure every 15 minutes, additional EKG’s, the team decides that first doctor office adminstered EKG is “very impressive “and I am admitted.

Without giving you a blow by blow, let’s just say they went right for  my femoral artery, the good ole heart cath and skipped the Stress Test, assuming correctly I was already stressed enough.

As I am being wheeled into the room where this procedure is to be administered, I asked, “Well, can I at least meet the Doctor?”

“Of course”

And the next thing you know this drop dead gorgeous man who could be Clark Gable’s double as an Indian walks over in a pair of pleated grey pants, a blue shirt and sweater vest, looking more like he is considering an early spring or late fall game of golf, than inserting a tube up to my heart with blue dye.  It was all I could do to restrain myself from telling him the same.

The diagnosis: stress induced angina.  The cure: yoga, exercise and less stress in my life.

Easy said.  Easy said.

Those of us who have lived with cancer and survived it, lost jobs and survived that, watched our portfolios melt into a puddle of worthless copper pennies and survived it, know stress.

Breathe in, breath out.

And ask for help.

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1 Comment

  1. Angellinda Landowski

     /  April 7, 2012

    Sending my care to you and your wellness! May you find all of the courage and strength you need & deserve. 3 Years ago my husband lost his job. Then in 2010 I got Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Very hard to do when you’re Down on your luck! We have Zero income! I missed all of my follow up care. Since its in other cities. My daughter took me to so many long appts. Her car has Bald tires and the steel banding coming through. I owe her wear and tear and tires Etc.. But I can’t fix that or me! I feel like I was tortured and left to Die!! I exist in pain from head to to em, each day more pain and a new ache. My body has done things I never knew it was possible. I hope one day to see Cancer Prevention, A cure & Quality of Life after Cancer!!


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