Thursday, January 5, 2012

Have you ever had that crushing feeling in your chest? Sort of like a ton of bricks sitting right there? It becomes harder to breathe, the air feels thicker, and you begin to breathe harder when you notice it. You feel uneasy and can't keep still. Your mind races a mile a minute and your hands and whole body begin to shake. You come down with an overwhelming feeling that completely takes over and you want to just burst into tears. Your heart begins to skip beats, and the only thing left to do is talk yourself off the ledge or let it overtake you with hysterics. This is what anxiety feels like to me. This is how I live my life most of the time and it scares the HELL out of me. I have been having more and more days like these in the past few months. My normal feeling is just the heaviness in the chest, short of breath, and the need to constantly move. The funny thing is that I bounce my leg probably 98% of  the time that I am sitting and I don't even notice! Normally someone yells at me before I notice on my own. Another thing I do is play with my rings, I move them all around in my hand. I don't even notice that either. I have been having panic attacks like I described a lot lately and I don't even realize what's bothering me most of the time when they hit me. So I decided maybe it was time to go see my cardiologist again.

I have gone to my cardiologist since I was 18. I started have palpitations where my heart was skipping beats every time I was upset or anxious. So since its heart related he always checks me out and I routinely go to him. In April and May 2010 I began having migraines non stop! Like 24/7 and nothing would help them. I went to my general doctor who found I had high blood pressure. She ran some labs and it came back that one of my hormone levels was off. This was caused by my high blood pressure. So she ran more tests and after a long MRI and more labs, it was found that I have Fibromuscular Stenosis (FMD) or simply narrowing of the arteries. You hear about clogged arteries happening to older people due to cholesterol, but mine is genetic. An artery is like a tube that takes blood all over your body. The arteries in my kidneys (renal arteries) have abnormalities in them. So take the empty tube and put a strand of beads in them (and that's exactly what it looks like in the scans, a strand of peral beads). So instead of my blood flowing throw it, it has to go in a wave pattern which takes more time. My body senses that there is a delay so it forces the blood to push harder and faster and creates that hormone (aldesterone) to help it push. This creates high blood pressure.

So after this was found I was sent to a specialist in Washington Hospital Center. I spent a whole day in the hospital having a rack of tests done. Then I spent weeks waiting for the results. It came back that my renal arteries were not as good as he would like them to be and that my carotid (arteries in your neck) were showing signs of FMD, but he was leaving those alone. So it was decided that he would do an angiogram (insertion of a camera in the arteries normally inserted around your groin area, right in the thigh) and look at it. He would then do angioplasty (which while he was in there would inflate a balloon and clear out the artery some) and possible a stint (which would be left in there to keep the arteries clear). To me this is a painful procedure. You are extremely sore and you have to watch your incision because if you tear it, you could bleed out. And after the procedure you have to lay flat on your back (which I can't do) for hours. Not fun stuff at all. So the doctor basically fed me with hope that he would go in and fix it and I would be back to normal. No more medication, no more extreme fatigue and no more headaches. Sounds great right? NOT!

He went in and decided that he was going to leave it alone at this time and maybe go back in a year or two and do it. This pissed me off to no end! This was supposed to fix me, but instead it was the same exact thing, but now my leg hurt for days and I had to use up leave for work. Awesome!

So the point of this whole long story is I went back to my doctor yesterday (not the specialist, but the cardiologist). My blood pressure has been all over the place even with two medications, I have been having headaches again, and I have been having black outs. A black out to me is hard to describe. First my heart starts racing, then everything goes black, then I lose hearing and everything is muffled. The first thing I get back is blurred vision, then I can see, and then my hearing comes back slowly distant then back atlast. It's at odd times too. Normally if I am really exerting myself or if I am in pain or really upset, probably at times where my blood pressure spikes too high.

So the doctor reviewed everything and said he thinks its time to scan me again. The blood pressure fluctuations could be caused by my renal arteries getting worse. And the head aches and blackouts could be caused from my carotid getting worse. I'm not going to get myself worked up about it, but it does kinda stink. It's bad that I hope it is something that they can fix so I can get rid of these damn headaches. Also maybe it will make my body relax more so maybe some anxiety would just go away, because I am already on two anxiety medications. Who knows.

So Monday bright and early I have a Renal Doppler, a Carotid Doppler, a Doppler on my heart again, and then a 24 hour heart monitor. So hopefully we will have some answers soon! Atleast this is another step in the right direction of taking care of myself. I'm going to think positive and just roll with the punches!

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