I am seriously confused as of late and stumbled across this website because I am looking for answers that no one has been able to give me so far. If you can, please help me.
Background: 21 year old female, slightly "overweight" for my height. More active in the spring/summer months than in the winter due to weather conditions; I go for walks in the evenings and hike on occasion without difficulty - I don't get winded or have symptoms while doing so. I also have a physically demanding job in a factory that requires standing for 8-10hrs and lifting 30-40lbs of material at a time over my head into the machine. My blood pressure is usually 110/70 or so. Diet isn't perfect, but it's a heck of a lot healthier than what most people my age eat. Caffeine intake is minimal; maybe 3 20oz beverages a week. I mainly drink Gatorade and water
Symptoms: mild to extreme chest pains, sometimes with shortness of breath; light-headedness; weakness/a numb tingling feeling all through my body with a concentration of it in my arms and legs -- my strength is completely gone at times. I also get extremely tired and will sleep very soundly for long periods of time (not normal for me, I am usually a very light sleeper) and when my boyfriend or someone else tries to wake me I do not always respond. I have no recollection of this afterward, though they assure me that I have looked right at them and tell them to come back later the times I do respond.
~~I have never struggled with the physical demands of my job until recently, I have been there for almost two years and have only been having trouble since January this year (2013).
~~I have had other bouts of this, but they haven't been frequent or very bad since March of 2011 (it's nothing I haven't been able to just muddle through, and it hasn't incapacitated me)
This next event was the first event that I remember having, when this all started.
***March 2011: I had been working 3rd shift and going to school days. I was 19 at the time, working instock at Wal-Mart in the heavier lifting departments (meat, produce, pets, and furniture). I am strong for a female and had no difficulty lifting 50lb dog food bags onto displays over my head. One night, shortly after finals for the winter quarter were over, I was at work doing what I called "light" work in the dairy department. I was helping another employee stock the yogurt when my chest had a shooting pain in the center so hard it knocked the wind out of me. I got lightheaded and I could feel my heart beating hard, sometimes very fast and then very slow, but it was hard and it hurt a lot. My coworker said the color drained from my face. I dropped a 6lb box of yogurt cups because I was numb and shaking and couldn't hold onto it anymore. I took a few deep breaths and tried to shake it off, grabbed another small 6lb box, and I couldn't even lift it up to my chest.
I then started to feel really funny. A numb feeling, a foggy feeling, came over my head. I couldn't think straight and a lot of my memory after I turned to poor Derrick and said "I feel funny" is pretty much blank. I remember making it to the back of the store to the warehouse where my shift manager was. Another employee saw me and made me sit down on a skid and called for help. I remember my manager coming to me and taking my badge and clocking me out, then asking if I wanted him to call the squad or not. I told him no, my boyfriend should be able to come get me. Other than that, the only response they told me they got from me was "I feel funny" over and over again, my speech slurred. Richard walked me up to the front of the store and my boyfriend pulled up. I remember getting into the car and putting my seat belt on and saying I wanted to go home; the next thing I know I have his phone in my hand and I hear him say "Call your parents." I did, telling my mom that I was on my way to the hospital but that she should stay home because the roads were bad and it was almost 3AM and she needed to get her rest (I remember telling her the hospital part, nothing else, this is what she and my boyfriend told me I said later). Everything is pretty much blank; I remember flashes of scenery as the snow was coming down hard. The next thing I remember is being triaged by the nurses at the hospital. Apparently I hadn't even been able to give them my name when we first showed up. We were in the waiting room waiting for a bed to open up when I finally start to remember things clearly again. My blood pressure was extremely high, I don't remember the exact numbers but I know it was cause for alarm at the time. I was given a bed, strapped to an EKG, and had my blood pressure taken again about 20 mins later. It had returned to normal for me from somewhere in the 180/something range (like I said it is all kinda fuzzy.)
I was not admitted into the hospital, I was sent home a few hours later. I was very tired and laid down on the couch to rest a bit. I proceeded to sleep for 27 hours solid, not even waking up to use the restroom, eat, or drink. I didn't know any of this - it seemed like I had just shut my eyes maybe an hour prior when the sun had started coming up and it was still early morning. I got up, used the restroom and got a drink, sat down on the couch again and told my boyfriend I was hungry. He then proceeded to tell me that, other than the occasional toss or turn, I hadn't moved off the couch in 27 hours. He was extremely relieved that I had finally come to and had actually been about to call the squad had I not woken up right then. I thought he was pulling my leg until he nearly broke down in tears.
Follow-ups with my doctor resulted in a Holter monitor and a visit to a cardiologist because the readings from that monitor indicated A-fib and flutter. The cardiologist read the report before he saw me, came in, looked at me and asked how old I was 3 separate times in the visit. He argued with himself for nearly an hour why it couldn't possibly be anything other than me being a typical lazy teenager that drank too much Mountain Dew. I was "too young to have a heart problem" and "females don't usually have these issues at all, much less this young" and that it must be "because of lack of exercise and an extremely poor diet". I proceeded to chew him a new one, telling him I worked 36 hours a week during the night and was taking a total of 40 credit hours of classes that quarter; I got plenty of exercise and could sprint up 3 flights of stairs with a 35lb bookbag on my back and not be winded when I hit the top landing; I drank about one 20oz pop a day back then, sometimes two, and slept on average about 16 hours a week (Sunday to Sunday). He quickly changed his tune and wrote it all off as exhaustion due to being overworked, dismissing the Holter monitor's findings as a bad test due to "R-wave contamination" on one of the feeds. He ordered an ultrasound of my heart and then sent me on my way as soon as it was done, not saying anything else to me. My home physician had to call his office and hound his people to get the results and notes from my visit to him almost three months later; they had no idea he'd even ordered the ultrasound.
Fast-forward to present day. I had, after the specialist visit, just written it off as a one-time thing. I slowly began to feel like myself again, able to tackle any task set before me. I had intermittent chest pain/weakness/lightheadedness episodes, but it wasn't anything that I couldn't just push through. I was convinced that I had just overdone it and I reduced my workload in the following months. I had cut out all caffeine and vastly improved my diet per the specialist's instructions and ate "rabbit food" for seven months and even started a jogging/walking regimen. The chest pains persisted and began to get more frequent, more intense, and I got frustrated. I was doing everything right, so what gives?
Finally I decided that I would eat and drink what I wanted since it didn't seem to make a lick of difference one way or the other. I still had chest pain episodes and I just wrote them off as nothing in the following months.
I started to get chest pains and numbness again, more and more frequent after the New Year this year. A little alarmed that it was increasing so rapidly, I called my doctor and was instructed to go to the nearest hospital. The previous day I had been sent home from work because my blood pressure was high and heart rate elevated -- I scared my supervisor enough that she sent me home even though they needed the labor. The hospital did an EKG and chest xrays, both of which were normal, and I was sent on my merry way.
Now I have a 30-day monitor. I had an ECHO done and just recently had a stress test. I was done on the treadmill, got the second isotope injection for the imaging and was waiting for the nurse to unhook the EKG. She was entering in some info on the computer, then looked up at me and asked if I was ok. I started to say yes, but then my vision clouded over and I couldn't see anything. I almost fell over and would have if I hadn't grabbed the treadmill bar. She sat me down and I told her I needed to vomit. I never ended up puking, mainly due to the fact I'd had to fast before hand. My ears were ringing really loudly and I couldn't hear much of anything. I heard a voice, couldn't tell what it said, but described what I was feeling to the nurse and apologized for not being able to hear her. She laid me down on a table and took my blood pressure again. Apparently my blood pressure and heart rate plummeted to "dangerously low" levels, causing me to nearly black out twice (once while standing, once while sitting, which is why she had me lay down I think). I asked if it had anything to do with the treadmill test thing, if I was out of shape or anything, and she assured me that the response had nothing to do with that. I was still hooked up to the EKG and I'm pretty sure the event was captured on it.
I got a call back from my doctor earlier saying that my stress test came back fine. I have asked them to call back and elaborate on their findings a bit more; since the stress test indicates blocked arteries and such, I kind of figured I was going to be in the clear of all that mess.
So I guess the point of all of this is for me to ask, what do I do now? My doctors don't care much about my family medical history because I can't give specifics to most of it; I know there's a lot of heart issues on my mother's side and most of my relatives have had pacemaker/defibs for at least my entire life (you know, from back when the technology was fairly new). My biological father's father had a heart attack younger than most men do, and his brother - my uncle - and their mother have both suffered from blood clots.
What on Earth could possibly be going on in there? What questions should I be asking my doctors? What is my next step?
Both the ECHO and stress test came back normal. Followed up with the doctor and asked about what the EKG looked like when I nearly passed out twice after the test was over. This was news to her - she didn't even have either report to look at when I had my appointment and spent the better part of an hour trying to figure out where the digital copy and/or hard copy of my results were in the first place. So now they're sending me to a specialist and the possibility of a heart cath was mentioned.
My employers don't want me around until this is resolved. Being called a liability makes me feel like absolute crap... so they're pushing short term disability at me because I still haven't bounced all the way back to where the episodes have pretty much stopped and they don't want me to pass out or get hurt on the job because my strength is gone. Even when I feel fine, about two to three hours into the shift an episode hits and I'll ask to sit down; when I do, I get the 3rd degree about how I feel and get pressured to leave the workplace.
Both A-fib and flutter as well as ischemia have been mentioned to me based on the Holter monitor and regular in-office EKG findings during this. My doctor put me on Toprol, a beta-blocker, to be taken at least until a specialist gets to examine all my test results.
I was basically dismissed by another specialist, who wants to put me through a tilt table test and a sleep study. I'm not sure what to believe anymore. All I know is I can barely function, my strength is gone, and when I do attempt to do anything even remotely physical like go to work I begin to feel even weaker and begin to shake so badly I can't even put components together to run the machine.
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