Monday, June 28, 2010

Saturday Night ER

As if I don't have enough drama in my life with a newborn and a 2.5 year old, Saturday night I found myself suffering from a mysterious chest pain. I thought maybe it was heartburn at first but it seemed to be getting worse and felt like an elephant sitting on my chest, right on my sternum. I sent Rick to the park with Ada and put Iain down for a nap while I rested for an hour. When I woke up, the pain was worse and it was time to call the doctor. I called Rick to come home and tried to call the answering services for both my family practice doctor and my OB and neither returned my call. After over two hours of pain, I decided to start calling in favors. My neighbor Jen came to watch Ada and we left for the ER at 7 pm. As soon as Rick walked into the ER with Iain, the nurse told him to leave since the ER is a cootie factory and no place for a newborn. So, I called in another favor and our friends Aaron and Cassie came up to sit outside with Iain while Rick bounced back and forth between my room and him, waiting for him to get hungry so I could nurse.

The ER staff was great. My nurse's name was Ian --always a good sign. They ran several tests: an EKG, chest X-Ray, blood tests, and finally gave me a CT scan to rule out anything serious. In between tests, Rick was able to bring Iain into my private room for a nursing session. And before they took me for the CT scan they explained that the "contrast" dye they'd inject me with would require that I pump and dump my breastmilk for 24 hours. As if I wasn't stressed out enough in life, now they just added a few more things to the list. Thankfully, I delivered at St Joseph and knew the Labor and Delivery floor would have samples of formula, bottles, and extra newborn diapers--all supplies we didn't have on hand since we were kind of in a hurry when we left for the emergency room, hence the word "emergency". As expected, I asked and they provided. At least I'll have a souvenir from my visit, albeit in the form of used baby formula bottles and dirty newborn diapers.

All of the tests came back negative. I was then given a shot of high powered Motrin. They had me wait half an hour for it to kick in and then sent me home--at midnight. I was diagnosed with some sort of muscular inflammation involving the joints around my sternum or my lungs or something in that area.

The sad part of all of this is that, in talking with my lactation consultant two days later, she said it sounded like a case of "Costochondritis" -an inflammation where the upper ribs join with the cartilage that holds them to the sternum. I happened to have an appointment with my regular doctoress the same day for Iain's one week checkup and as soon as I said chest pain she said "Costochondritis". And then followed it with, "I'm sorry I wasn't on call. I would have been able to save you from the ER visit." That's nice to know but surely not going to make my ER bills any lower. Ug. Frustrating. I wish I could just get her cell number and promise not to stalk her. At least I know I'm healthy as a horse.

Moral of the story: Just because someone says "chest pain" doesn't always mean "freak out --it must be a heart attack".

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