On Thursday night, I had some chest discomfort. It felt sort of like severe indigestion, but it persisted through the night despite liberal doses of antacids. I woke my husband up early Friday morning to drive me to the nearest E.R. (and it could be argued that we should have called 911).
Note: Women often have vague symptoms, such as heartburn, when they are having a heart attack and, for many reasons, don’t seek out immediate care.
So off to the ER we went. Unfortunately, the electronic medical record (EMR) at this facility was down due to a ransomware attack. Had I known, I probably would have considered going elsewhere, but this was the nearest hospital. More on this later.
Anyway, I had my blood drawn, vitals taken, and an EKG done in triage. I spent 6 hours in an ER room waiting for the results. While the tests showed that I wasn’t having an active heart attack, the ER doc still wanted me to be admitted for observation and a stress test.
I went to a decent private room in the observation unit that afternoon. They hooked me up to a monitor, drew more blood, and the waiting continued. I was able to get part 1 of the stress test process done – a rest test – that day. That evening, they served me a ‘heart healthy’ dinner. I had no idea how important a little salt can be!
On Saturday, things finally got underway with a bedside stress test and then a follow-up rest test an hour later. (I actually had to drink my first real Coke in 30+ years after the stress test. I guess it the best bet for sugar and caffeine). The tests were read by a cardiologist and he saw…..NO SIGNIFICANT PROBLEMS WITH MY HEART 😊! I still need to follow-up with a cardiologist but this was very good news indeed.
Note: I hadn’t fully appreciated the importance of EMR’s until now. I don’t get my usual care through this hospital system and without access to my medical information they were somewhat flying blind. I learned later that I was marginal for admission to the observational unit in the first place, but without the information they needed, further testing was the conservative approach.
I was discharged at about 5:30 PM on Saturday.
Even though my results were fine, I have no regrets getting my chest pain checked out. I had some of those ‘vague symptoms’ women experience and a family history of heart disease, so I think it was better to err on the side of caution.
I’m grateful that I COULD err on the side of caution. A hospital is 11 minutes away, my husband is 100% supportive, I am fairly literate in medical matters, and I have excellent insurance that will largely pay for my admission. I also have wonderful family and friends who kept an eye on me from their respective locations.
I know that many people experiencing chest pain don’t have the same safety net!
“Most women do not realize that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of American women.”Monica Potter