Chest pains and a true horror story

Before I begin, I have to share THE best “what do you want” face I’ve ever seen.  My Yeti, upon being awakened by my uncomfortable shifting around on the couch!


So, Friday evening at about 9pm, I start getting a pain in my upper back. No biggie, I think, My arthritis is acting up because of the snowstorm. I take a painkiller and continue to watch TV.

But the pain spreads to my ribs, and then to the front, making my diaphragm seize up.  Soon I hurt from shoulder blade to pelvic bone, both sides. And can barely breathe for the pain in my chest, centered just under my left breast.

Call the ambulance! Longest 7 minutes in my life! But the boys were cute, one kept apologizing for his cold hands, and having to put the little sticky things for the ECG on my breast area…. please, if it stops me from dying in my ugly pj’s, put that thing anywhere!  I have more important things on my mind than whether you see my nipple right now.

It was not a heart attack, even though it certainly felt like one. Severe pain in my chest, trouble breathing, cold sweats, dizzy, nauseated, etc.  And I know that more women die from their first heart attack than men because we wait to see what happens.  So we went straight to ambulance and checking my heart.  And decided to go to the hospital, because heart attack or no, I was still in freaking pain.

Now the horror story begins.

I was brought to the emergency room by ambulance at about 1030.  (I live on a small farm an hour outside Ottawa) The nurse copied my vitals from the ambulance record. My pain at home had been about 9.5/10.  It lowered to about 7/10 in the ambulance. In the waiting room at about 1130pm, it went back to an 8 or 9.  I informed the nurse behind the desk that it was back to unbearable.

I saw my first person at 3am. That person listened to my heart, then left. No pulse, no blood pressure no blood work.

I saw the doctor (THE doctor: this is the horror part) at 4am or later.  I was half asleep by this time, the pain had stopped except for residual soreness. around 1am.

Remember that this is a Friday night, with a snowstorm?  There was ONE doctor on duty in emergency. And about 5 nurses. TOTAL.

What the Hell?

I had been triaged, based on the ambulance ECG.  And knocked to the bottom of the list several times. But at no time did anyone triage me or check me at the hospital.  They wrote on my chart that they did, but that’s a whole ‘nother rant.  This one is about ONE freaking doctor on duty on a Friday night in a snowstorm.

Because… there won’t be any accidents or heart attacks or drunk drivers then.

By the time I saw the doctor, he had no clue what was wrong because all the symptoms were gone. He gave me a prescription for heartburn.  Seriously?

I sense a really pointed letter to politicians in my future.


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