Monday, December 22, 2008

In the first person

Dr. Jorge Minera, family practice physician at Piedmont Family Medicine, is concerned about an issue that has been all over the Internet lately: Because heart attack symptoms in women are different and less definitive than those in men, women’s symptoms may not be taken seriously enough, he says. (See next blog, below.)

On Monday morning, I found out first-hand that it’s not the case at Fauquier Health.

Making an attempt to keep up with the avalanche of Christmas cookies infiltrating my house, I was at the Fauquier Health LIFE Center at 7:30 a.m. climbing aboard the elliptical machine. By 7:34, I was out of breath and feeling weakness in my arms.

Now, I will admit I’m not in tip-top shape, but I can usually manage more than 4 minutes on the elliptical. I sheepishly made it over to the nurses’ station and admitted that I wasn’t feeling well. At the words, “short of breath” and “feeling week,” the women were genuinely concerned. At “chest tightness,” they flew into action.

The next hour or so was a blur as I was shipped off by ambulance to Fauquier Hospital, hooked up to an EKG machine and given aspirin and nitroglycerin tablets. I found that the folks in the Emergency Department took my condition very seriously indeed and worked hard to find out what was causing my discomfort.

For the next two days, it was echocardiograms, telemetry monitoring, blood draws and a stress test. Turns out, my heart is in great shape. For a while there, we thought it was a blood clot, but a CT scan ruled that out too. With the life-threatening possibilities ruled out, I was cleared to resume my normal activities while waiting for further test results to pinpoint the issue.

I was back in the LIFE Center Wednesday morning, feeling rested and ready to resume the battle against the cookies. The nurses welcomed me back and asked if I had doctor’s clearance to work out. They said they believed me, but I could tell they were keeping an eye on me, anyway.

It’s nice to know.

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