Chaos to Cosmos
The path from chaos to cosmos was discovered by telling one's life story

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Nicotine patches and chest pains

Perhaps I can get to like my neighbour after all (not really): yesterday he called me "young". He had commented on seeing me at the Livestock Fair in Buenavista on Sunday morning and, how I'd missed the best part - I quite agree - by leaving before the party / parade began. I explained briefly, to which his reaction was that I was too young to be tiring out so easily. We are still in full agreement! (The real irony here is that I'm older than him.)

The problem - to try to explain the limits on my day-to-day life - is that often (depending on a wide variety of circumstances), if I'm out / work / whatever for more than even a couple of hours that can be enough "strain" to put me in severe pain (legs, back, hips, shoulders, wherever else takes my body's fancy) for days afterwards. That pain then often becomes too acute for me to be able to get to sleep, so the problem compounds ... rinse, repeat ... and I can't recover.

So, I'm aware of my physical limits and try to keep within them. This approach is what I've found to work - for me - from more than a decade of dealing with it: I'm not lazy - nor satisfied with staying in my "comfort zone" - by choice.

Anyway, the parade was late starting this year, I felt tired and, having gone down on the only late morning bus, I had to make a decision to get one back home, because the next bus would have made it too many hours. And lately, I have been being extra careful, because the problem has become worse since I stopped smoking in September. Yes, I know this is "arse about face", but when I smoked for 36 years (and got to 2 packs a day), I didn't have chest pains nor become breathless walking up hills. Since giving up, I do. I hope I may see some improvements eventually, meanwhile ...

This new problem, was certainly triggered when I used Nicorette patches. Under the precautions on the leaflet, it says essentially (well, it said it in Spanish), "If you notice palpitations or pain in the chest, you must remove the patch and go to a doctor." Who notices a "little thing" like that? Do you read the leaflet for a "normal" product that, anyway is supposed to be to get you off a stronger drug? But by about the 10th day, I suddenly got a pain in my chest so bad that (without exaggeration), I thought I was having a heart attack.

Being a qualified first-aider, I'm not one to panic, but that gripping, crippling pain scared the sh*t out of me. I crawled to bed and stayed there. Later, I mentioned this to my mother, who casually said that she'd heard of this happening to people with these patches before. Oh, f@ckin wonderful!

I've done a bit of searching since, but didn't come up with much, other than advice pages that begin Congratulations on your decision to quit smoking, though a [now defunct] page did list some less common side effects (most of which I'd also experienced), so I suspect that suffering this level of side effects is as rare as finding hen's teeth and rocking horse poo together, which is nothing abnormal for me. Although I've frequently had strong reactions to medicines, previously, that's mostly meant "may make you drowsy", translates in my case to, "will make you unable to function and basically comatose." And I still have to conclude that, even if I'd read any of it earlier, as I had no history of heart problems, nor high blood pressure, nor chest pains previously, I doubt that I (or even a doctor, for that matter), would have registered a need for any special precautions.

Another source suggested that I should have got emergency medical attention, which I don't dispute. However, at the time, living alone, with nobody nearby to call, it was a classic case of being "too ill to go to the doctor." So I didn't.

Of course, I took the bloody patch off immediately and haven't used them since (yes, that means I've had to deal with giving up smoking "cold turkey"), but I've been left with these tendencies to breathlessness, even greater fatigue and, the chest pain comes back, sometimes if I pick up merely the weight of a full coffee cup. [UPDATE 2020: and this has never improved.]