Yesterday was highlighted by a trip to urgent care.
I’ve been feeling somewhat out-of-sorts for a while. I think it started on Tuesday, when I had a general mid-range feeling of crumminess. I chalked it up to having slept poorly the night before, but skipped playing frisbee anyway. Wednesday I felt better, but not perfect. And in the evening while sitting reading comics I keenly felt my heart pumping and my blood pulsing – not that it was fast, just that it was strong and noticeable. Thursday I was again not feeling great, but had a bevy of meetings in the afternoon (one of which I was running), so I was at work anyway. I came home with a headache, which turned into a debilitating headache – possibly a migraine – by 7 or so, and I went upstairs and napped until 8. I felt better, and came down and had a Diet Coke and some Hormel chili for dinner (Debbi prepared it), and felt better afterwards. (I rarely get migraines, by the way – maybe one every 2 or 3 years.)
But Friday and Saturday I again was feeling kind of off. I had a recurrence of soreness and stiffness in my hip joints which I’ve had a couple of times before, and general soreness elsewhere, including some in my torso. So at this point I’m starting to wonder if I’m on the verge of having some heart problems, or if something else serious was going on. So while we were at lunch yesterday Debbi asked me if I was okay, and I said “I don’t know.” So we headed off to the urgent care center (in the cold, wind and rain).
(Aside: the Palo Alto Medical Foundation uses medical office software from the company I used to work at, Epic Systems. This always amuses me. I make a point of telling people there about this, and I always end up getting feedback about it, even though it’s been 12 years since I left. That entertains me, too.)
This is my first trip to urgent care in nearly 20 years, when I went to the center in Madison the morning after developing an unbelievably painful sinus infection. They gave me antibiotics and told me to go home and sleep. I felt more equivocal about going this time, since it was more a combination of milder symptoms that was making me worried rather than feeling clearly sick. Yet the potential outcome if I was right to worry made me decide to go.
The wait was almost exactly the advertised 1 hour, and I saw a very nice doctor (actually all the doctors I’ve ever met at PAMF are friendly and personable) who ordered some blood tests and took an EKG (the first one I can recall having, but honestly I expect I had at least one EKG and some other similar tests when I was a kid, but I just don’t remember them). We talked about various things that could be happening, but ultimately none of them were borne out by the tests, all of which came back within normal ranges. Here are some of the possibilities:
- I could simply have an infection, but am not exhibiting any of the primary symptoms for some reason.
- I could be under stress and it’s throwing off my body chemistry. Given what we’ve been dealing with in house-hunting and Blackjack’s cancer, this is plausible. Plus of course worrying that I’m, developing a really serious problem is just going to increase my stress level.
- I could be under stress and it caused my thyroid to go out of whack. (The thyroid test came back normal.)
- I could be developing an irregular heartbeat. The EKG didn’t show anything, but of course if it’s irregular then it could just have not shown up at that particular time. The doctor suggested I contact my primary physician and see about getting a 24-hour heart monitor to see if it happens in a longer span of time.
- I could have developed a blood clot. I guess they did a blood test which indicated that this isn’t so.
- It could be neurological. They didn’t have a way to test for this at urgent care. The doctor said they could do an MRI or even sample my spinal fluid (!) to test some theories in this direction, but also that these are much more invasive tests.
The blood tests said my liver, kidney and thyroid functions all appeared normal.
So, as the doctor said, we’re left with a puzzle. He suggested I go home, make sure I eat and drink enough (“Eat a banana” he said, in case I’m low on potassium – I did that), and get enough rest. So we spent the evening lying around at home, watching Harry Potter films and cartoons, and got take-out for dinner.
Today I feel better. So I’m starting to think it was either or both an infection or stress. I do stress out often and easily, I just don’t show it on the outside (I’m much less laid-back inside my head than it appears). But I will still call my doctor tomorrow and see what he thinks. But it’s encouraging that it seems I’m not about to have a heart attack.