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

Friday, 30 October 2009

Return of the chest pains

Whether exacerbated by the other day's increase in brain fog and this is part of the crash I was suspecting might occur, I don't know, but on Wednesday night, after not having used it for some time, I used my TENS machine as I'd been having a lot of extra pain and stiffness in my neck and shoulders over the last couple of weeks (another long story for later).

On a few occasions before, I've had chest pains after using the TENS machine, but when one gets chest pains regularly and they're part of the ME anyway and are only one of far too many other aches and pains to count, one never quite knows what is causing them, or whether to worry. Instinctively, I probably should.

Immediately after using the machine I felt a tightness in my chest. Shortly after that I went to sleep, but yesterday morning I woke up with notable tightness around my chest, pain and numbness down my left arm and a feeling like I'd been kicked and winded in the centre of my back between my shoulder blades. My throat and chest tightened more if I tried to take a deep breath.

Nevertheless, I dragged my sorry fat arse out of bed to feed the hungry cats then get my own breakfast. I'd got as far as getting myself water for taking medication, had warmed up my wheat bag in the microwave to hopefully help with the neck and shoulder pain and made my coffee, so I took the drinks to the bedroom while my porridge was cooking in the microwave.

On the way back to the kitchen, I was waylaid by the furball formerly known as "the baby who refuses to be put down", weaving in front of me and shaking his ample butt and tail in my direction, whilst looking up at me with sad eyes and crying plaintively. So I picked him up and snuggled him, turning on the baby talk - this quickly embarrasses him into shutting up - put him down, made my way back to the kitchen (this is all of a few paces): in all, hardly major exertions.

On my way towards the microwave, I grabbed a spoon from the draw with which to eat my boring breakfast gruel, but I only got half way there when I suddenly felt as if I'd been kicked by a mule in the solar plexus - so severely that my legs involuntarily buckled and twisted beneath me. It completely winded me and the pain around my chest increased 1000-fold. I grabbed hold of the work surface and slid myself down onto the floor to sit with my back against the wall.

There was also the incident with the nicotine patches when I gave up smoking 2 years ago and yesterday morning's episode was startlingly similar. So once more, based on my qualification as a first-aider, "... I put myself in the recommended half-sitting position with knees bent, tried not to panic and eventually the pain and constriction subsided and breathing became easier."

And yes, once again, it was bloody scary for a while there.

But that's not the end of the story ...

So, there I am, writhing on the kitchen floor - not something I do frequently, just for "fun" - trying to regain control of my basic functions, clearly having trouble breathing. I'm certain any reasonably compus-mentis person would have assumed from my appearance that I was in severe pain and in need of help. I couldn't even speak. Once I could speak, it was in breathless panting.

Meanwhile, mother was waiting for her lift to take her to a hospital outpatients checkup. She was hovering around the kitchen door, so there's a chance she even saw the whole incident, but she could certainly see me in trouble on the floor. All I could hear, while I'm down there thinking there's a chance I could die here, was "I hope this woman [the lift] hasn't forgotten me."

Ignoring me, mother went outside to look, came back in, then she thought / worried other things out loud, then she called the woman up to see if she was coming, then she announces she doesn't know what she was going to do. Still completely failing to acknowledge my predicament - I couldn't see her, but I knew she was approaching the kitchen - she asks, "What am I going to do?"

By this time, I could, just, wheeze out a few words. I told her she'd have to call a taxi. Well, actually, I told her not to worry, because I might need an ambulance first, then told her to get a 'kin taxi and get out of my sight, because I really couldn't believe that she was wittering on about her own non-urgent needs while I was laying on the floor in possibly life-threatening trouble.

Know what she said? In whining tone, "Well, I can't lift you. I can't do anything."

So the first is true. The second NEVER is and, even if it were, deciding to ignore the problem and pretend it isn't there, definitely is not the answer. Not if you're sane human anyway. And this is, by no means, an isolated incident.

By that time I could feel my heart pounding in my chest like it was hammering on my sternum to be let out. Involuntarily, I pushed my hand against my chest to *hold* it in. Even without my hand there, I could feel my pulse thudding up through my oesophagus, throat, neck and left arm, but I wasn't really sure what was causing it most; the original problem, or utter rage that my own mother could so totally, seemingly knowingly and wilfully, absolutely fail to react in any way to a what really could have been a genuine emergency involving her child. If I hadn't been there myself, I really would not have believed this had happened.

(And, no doubt there will be people who still don't believe me and will probably try to bully me into silence again because they think I shouldn't tell the truth publicly. They will be the same ones who do believe my mother portraying herself as the "victim". They really don't know the half.)

Mother got her taxi, I stayed down until I got my breath back, then crawled to bed and stayed there most of the day, did my best to switch my brain off and relax and even managed to sleep on and off, but the pounding pulse didn't subside until evening. Mother got me some water when I asked, but otherwise left me (without food) all day. I still had to cook dinner later, even though I could barely stand up. The severity of the chest pains has subsided now, but they return to some degree every time I get up today. I feel like I've done 10 rounds with Ali, been kicked and punched all over and feel absolutely washed out with zero energy.

It used to concern me a bit about having such an emergency when I lived on my own out in the wilds of Tenerife, but clearly, those circumstances did not increase the danger at all. This time, by the time I was capable of getting to a phone to get help myself, the emergency didn't seem so pressing. Next time I could die first.

Factors: viral heart damage could be linked to me/cfs. Warnings: "Before you use any brand of nicotine patch, make sure your doctor knows if you have, or have ever had, any of the following: chest pain from a heart condition (angina); heart attack; high blood pressure (severe); irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia); kidney disease; liver disease; overactive thyroid; skin disease; ulcers; or any other serious illness." In addition, although TENS machines are supposedly virtually side-effect free, they should not be used by people with "... certain types of heart disease." (Of course it was suggested by pain management. Of course I got rid of it!)