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The terrors of late youth: cardiac stress tests or (probably) Costochondritis - The Annals of Young Geoffrey: Hope brings a turtle [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Young Geoffrey

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The terrors of late youth: cardiac stress tests or (probably) Costochondritis [Sep. 18th, 2012|08:51 am]
Young Geoffrey
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I've been having chest pains over the past few weeks. A sharp, vertical blade of pain whose strength ranged from a barely-noticeable twinge to a slice of near-agony in certain positions.

That the onset coincided with my longer commute and my growing tendency to use the curls on my racing-style bike's handle bars; that it did not seem to correlate with physical exertion; and that I had an appointment with my GP scheduled for last Tuesday all combined towards my decision not to rush off to Emergency but rather, to wait for the scheduled consultation.

Did I mention that I (and Raven) have actually managed to land a family doctor? No? Well, Raven and I have landed a family doctor. She is a young Doctor who had been (and still is) working out of a local walk-in clinic and Raven and I both found her personable, intelligent and willing to take time to answer questions. Further, she tends to suggest exercise or stretches rather than jump towards prescribing pills. When she mentioned that she was starting a private practice, Raven and I leapt to sign up.

That was probably nearly two years ago. Whether for reasons of bureaucracy or something else entirely, it took nearly that long for things to be made official. But it happened, and I went in for my first physical with Dr. Chow as my Primary Care Physician a week ago.

I told her I was feeling pretty good, "I think." She confirmed my "excellent" blood pressure and my resting heart rate of 54 beats per minute (which, ahem, the internet tells me is that of an athlete), then prodded my chest a little here and there. "I'm pretty sure it's costochondritis," she said. "Inflamation of the cartilage in the ribs." She said she wanted me to have some tests done, to be sure, "but mostly to have a baseline of your heart functioning for the future," she said.

And so it was that, yesterday, I found myself in a small room, shirtless, with a technician scraping away at me with (really!) sandpaper, before attaching electrodes to the tender spots, all attached to a belt that looked like nothing so much as (I thought, but did not say) a suicide bomber's detonator.

The machine itself looked pretty much exactly like a treadmill in a gym but, the technician told me, has an extra level of inclination — I think it maxed out at 14%. At least, that's where I maxed out, when 10 minutes 24 seconds in and panting and sweaty, I cried Uncle. I had passed my target heart rate of 158 beats per minute a minute and a half before but learned that jogging "uphill" even for a brief time is harder than it looks.

The technician was, happily, willing to give me the benefit of her experience. "Off the record," she said, "I don't see any problems. But of course, the doctor will send the results to your doctor."

The stretches Dr. Chow had recommended had already been working, but the relief I felt surprised me. I hadn't, consciously, thought there was much chance I actually had something wrong with my heart but, apparently, my subconscious was a lot more concerned.

And meanwhile, if anyone is keeping track, I'll be seeing a specialist about my arthritis in December; 'till then, I trust the ibuprofen will keep that pain relatively muted.

P.S. to my American readers. I have no private health coverage; none of this cost me a penny out-of-pocket. I think that's a very good thing.

This entry was originally posted at http://ed-rex.dreamwidth.org/242924.html. Comment there using OpenID, or here as per normal.

[User Picture]From: silverflight8
2012-09-18 05:08 pm (UTC)
14%! No wonder you chickened out. Ouch!
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2012-09-18 05:10 pm (UTC)

Tired out, not chickened out! :)

The technician did say I lasted longer than most people, though. And I'd like to think she wasn't lying.
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[User Picture]From: silverflight8
2012-09-18 05:12 pm (UTC)

Re: Tired out, not chickened out! :)

That, yes, that word! Mind went blank >.>

It's a significant incline!
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[User Picture]From: sabotabby
2012-09-19 12:11 am (UTC)
Go you, taking initiative on your health and stuff.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2012-09-19 05:17 am (UTC)

Thanks ...

... it really helps to have a GP. And more, a GP who seems to be blessed with brains and imagination to go along with the book learnin'.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2012-09-19 05:29 am (UTC)

Do you have a GP/family doctor/whatever you call primary care physicians Down Under?

Superman by Neal Adams circa 1971, if memory serves
Superman circa 1971 as portrayed by Neal Adams. Copyright by DC Comics, &ct.

The major difference between your symptoms and mine seems to me that mine are worst when I'm just lying down. If we do have the same condition, you might want to try the stretches my doctor showed me. After a week, I'm in significantly less pain.

Basically, stand up straight, push out your chest and pull your arms back from the shoulders, kind of like you'd do if you were Superman breaking a chain wrapped around his chest, only with your arms kept tight to your sides.

All levity aside, if you're being dismissed as a nut-job or attention-hound, is there anybody respectable looking in your life that you could entice to come with you as an advocate? Unfair as it is, that might make all the difference.

Edited at 2012-09-19 05:30 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2012-09-19 02:47 pm (UTC)

Re: Do you have a GP/family doctor/whatever you call primary care physicians Down Under?

Don't knock the idea of having an advocate at your side too quickly. I've seen it's usefulness personally and professionally, when I worked for a social service agency.

That said, it's more likely to help if the advocate believes in you, and if you're seen by your friends and family as just crying wolf, that's going to be a problem. (Your situation sounds awful, I guess I don't need to tell you.)

So I am back to suggesting you try the exercises and maybe popping an ibuprofen (since costochondritis is an inflamation).
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2012-09-20 06:01 am (UTC)

Re: Do you have a GP/family doctor/whatever you call primary care physicians Down Under?

I'm glad to know I over-reacted to your plight. And you've got a point (presuming mine knows what she's talking about) about cutting out the middle-man.

At this point, I'm doing the stretches only when it occurs to me (I've never been very disciplined about that sort of thing), and have only been doing them at all for a week now, so it's very early days. No specific name for 'em; just push your chest out and pull your arms back, then repeat.

If I learn more I'll let you know. As I am learning first-hand, mystery pains are a real bitch to deal with.
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[User Picture]From: cream_n_coffee
2012-09-19 01:48 pm (UTC)
I hope it's not serious. And I hope the woman was right about it being nothing too. Phew!
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2012-09-19 02:38 pm (UTC)

"Phew!" indeed

Thanks, for obvious reasons I hope so too!
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[User Picture]From: sooguy
2012-09-20 02:04 am (UTC)
Glad to hear that you have a regular GP, I know having one the last two years here after going with out one for almost 4 years has made a big difference in our level of care.

Take care of yourself.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2012-09-20 06:03 am (UTC)

Doin' my best, thanks

Yeah, it certainly does. When this one announced she was opening a practice, Raven and I went so far as to eliminate the Quebec side of the Ottawa River as a possible place to live simply because this was a doctor we wanted to keep around (as it were). (Not to mention how hard it is to find any GP!)
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[User Picture]From: abomvubuso
2012-09-20 01:51 pm (UTC)
I hope things get better for ya soon.
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