Wow, I am so relieved to have found this forum. I have searched high and low on the internet for anyone who has had symptoms similar to myself, and had yet to find anyone (or a forum of this type).
Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Danielle, I'm 22, have been happily married to my husband, Josh, for over three years now. We have two sons, Cade (2) and Jack (3 1/2 mos).
As far as my health history goes (this may get long, bear with me!)...
My first "attack" happened when I was around 13 years old. I was house sitting for a friend, and I woke up in the middle of the night with this horrific pain in my chest. I didn't know what was happening. I was nauseous, dizzy, and the pain felt like someone was sitting on my chest and at the same time squeezing my insides. (Even to this day, I have given birth naturally (no pain meds) to my two boys - I would rather do THAT than experience this, hands down!)
My older sister rushed me home at around 5am and by the time we got there, my mom gave me a Tylenol and I felt okay again. It just went away like that.
The attacks, over the years, began to come more often. I experienced my next attack when I was a freshman in high school. I was in choir, and all of a sudden, the chest pain came on. I just got up and stumbled out of the room. I somehow made it to the nurse's office, I remember clenching my chest the entire way, feeling as though I was going to vomit and pass out from the pain. I cried for an hour - the pain was excruciating. My father was called - was taken to the hospital. They told him I must have had an anxiety attack.
I told him I was under no stress and was not anxious. Did not believe me. Labs came back normal.
The attacks began happening more frequently. They would last for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, sometimes an hour. It varied. Each time, a trip to the ER. (I swore I was dying) Of course, each time, the doctors wrote me off. It was anxiety attacks, growing pains, or what have you. Over time, everyone
started to think that I was faking it.
It wasn't until I moved to Rhode Island and married my husband that I started doing research of my own. I couldn't live with the pain. I could go months without having the attacks, then out of nowhere, have one. But I would always have a "pressure" feeling in my chest - I just never knew when it would escalate.
I became pregnant with our first son and ended up in the ER three times in the middle of the night with my husband. Each time, labs came back normal.
Went home, did more research. I was convinced that I had gallstones.
Next attack - went in. Doctor told me I was having anxiety attacks. I yelled at her and told her that I had been told that 1,000 times before - I was NOT having anxiety attacks. I told her I believed I had gallstones. They did an ultrasound. GALLSTONES IT IS!
I thought we had finally figured it out.
After my son was born, everything seemed fine. When my son was 3 mos. old, though, I had another attack - only this one was accompanied by severe diarrhea and vomiting. Went to the ER, labs came back elevated - definitely gallbladder. It was determined that I had an attack as a result of my dropping hormones from the pregnancy.
I realized that this attack was not like ALL of my other attacks. I just knew then that my gallbladder was not the culprit (but it still needed to come out!).
I become pregnant again with our second son. I seem to be able to keep things at bay with the phantom "attacks". I realize that stress makes it worse (I begin to feel my chest tighten up and if I can calm myself down, it gets better). My gallbladder starts acting up again, but this time it hurts in my side. Just a result of the hormones from pregnancy (should have had it taken out!).
Son is born - no attacks yet. Phew.
Then just a month ago, I ended up in the ER again my ambulance. I was lying in bed with our baby nursing him, and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, an attack comes in. (I felt it creeping up - I was just praying it would not full out come on.) I ran out into the living room where my husband was sleeping, clenching my chest. I could barely even talk, let alone breathe. It took everything in my to scream at him to call the ambulance.
Get to the hospital. Doctors tell me it must be GERD. (I have been taking Protonix every single day for the past two years - don't tell me it's GERD!) I generally don't have bad heartburn or reflux, I take one 40mg tablet a day and that keeps things well. I didn't believe it was reflux.
Sent home, la de da - like the vicious cycle?
Finally, two weeks ago, I went into the hospital again with an attack. After it was over, I told them I didn't want to hear that it was reflux, or anxiety, or anything else. I wanted them to figure out what the heck was wrong with me! This pain was worse than natural child birth - and I am no whimp! It literally feels like I'm going to die.
A wonderful doctor comes in who FINALLY listens to me and my history. He pushes around on my stomach, and finally says, "You know, I think you may be experiencing esophageal spasms, or you may have a hiatal hernia. Have you ever heard of either of those?" He explained that both can cause non-cardiac chest pain.
I felt like finally, in almost TEN YEARS, someone was taking the time to actually listen to me and figure out what the heck was going on.
He referred me to a GI group and told me to get in right away. Unfortunately, I have an appt. with my surgeon to remove my gallbladder early next week, so I don't think I'll be able to get in for a scope for at least another month. Either way, I finally feel like I am just that much closer to getting a proper diagnosis.
Thank you for listening if you have gotten this far. Have any of you had my particular experience? I was wondering if it sounds more like spasms or a hernia to any of you. Either way, I cannot wait to get in to the GI's, figure this crap out and hopefully never have to deal with any of this EVER again!
Honestly, for the past month, it has been the worst. The "pressure" in my chest is always there, and I just pray it never escalates to a full blown attack. My husband and I eat very healthy diets - no sodas, coffee, fatty foods - we eat mostly organic/natural foods (we cook everything from scratch), and I feel like I am doing everything possible to be healthy.
This is the most frustrating thing that I have ever dealt with (obviously). I am so glad I have found a group of people who understand.
Does anyone have any tips on how I can keep these attacks at bay until I finally do see this GI group? I was reading a few posts and those of you who were having spasms - that's what it sounds like. Anything I can do to prevent the attacks? My PCP said that if it is spasms, I will have to take nitr-something or other (pills) every day, but the doc at the ER said there is a surgery they can do where they essentially cut part of the esophagus to let some of the pressure out?
I am so looking forward to being here. Thank you for sticking with me if you've gotten this far!
Ps. Sorry if there are a million type-o's!
Danielle, mom to two beautiful little boys!
Cade Noah 11/11/07
Jack Elias 8/28/09http://mazmama.blogspot.com
Post Edited (maz-mama) : 12/15/2009 2:36:02 AM (GMT-7)