Flips, slips, and paranoia


First of all, let me assure you that I am well – mentally and physically. But there has been a bit of turmoil in my life because of a thing my doctor told me a few weeks ago. I believe it was simply a mistake in a reading he took, but he told me, in a standard visit, that I had had a heart attack, and never knew anything about it. And I am very paranoid about my heart.

It all started with a doctor in the early 1980s who did give me some bad advice. I started having anxiety and panic attacks then. It took about 15 years, including visits with psychologists, and meds for depression, to get me back to what was considered normal for me. But because I had both parents die of heart-related problems, because I smoke (though I quit for 1t years between 1983-1998, when I had really bad stress problems), and because I am a Type-A personality, inclined to stress, and because I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes a few years ago, telling me I had had an unknown heart attack set me off on another round of panic attacks.

Anyway, on May 30, I found myself calling EMS because I had a bad cramp in the area just below my heart, which quickly turned into a bit of a circus. When the firemen and the EMS folk got here, they found me running around in the courtyard chasing my cats which had got out of my door. I was told I should probably be sitting down, and I had neighbors running around asking how I was, and chasing my cats down for me. The EMS folk ran an EKG on me, and said there was nothing wrong with my heart, and no sign that I had ever had a heart attack. I commented on the cramp in my middle, and we decided it was a stress cramp – a squeezing of the muscles in my diaphragm because I was stressed out.

They left. Then on the following Tuesday (June 4), I again was feeling bad, and sort of nauseous and hot, sweating, and a I was convinced to call EMS again. This time I let them transport me to the hospital because my general chest and belly area were hurting. I was in the hospital for three hours, they ran three EKGs, and took an X-ray of my heart and chest area. The diagnosis was that there was nothing wrong with my heart, that the pains I was feeling had nothing to do with my heart. The ER diagnosis was I should try to find something to alleviate my stress.

I called my doctor, and he came over on the following Friday, and he said he would try to get me into a psychiatrist.

OK, to begin with, I have a doctor who does not want to prescribe my Klonopin (Clonazapam), which I have been taking for 25 years, and which is a Benzodiazepine, and thus, addictive. But it works, has worked for 25 years, has never been raised in strength, and is compatible with every other med I take, particularly my anti-depressant. That is very important. I had two refills left of the Klonopin, five pills at a time. He assured me that he would give me a prescription for 30 pills while I tried to get into the psychiatrist to give me the prescription. He never called in the prescription. I did go through a couple of sessions with the Heart Hospital of Austin, including the dye in the heart for photographs of my arteries, and a stress test for physical reactions. I passed everything with flying colours.

Look, I understand that the heart is a weird organ – that one can pass every test on the heart, get a clean bill of heath, and walk out he door, have a heart attack, and die. That doesn’t worry me – just telling me that there is something wrong with my heart would worry me. And I have a perfectly healthy heart.

Well, the psychiatrist’s office called me and told me they couldn’t take me because in addition to my Medicare, I have Medicaid backup (because I’m poor and have QMB). Look it up if you don’t know what that means. But they said they could not send Medicaid a bill. I told them it was Medicare who billed Medicaid, but they said no. I called my doctor’s office and left the message about the psychiatrist’s office, and that I had this horrid rash on the back of my legs that I needed him to look at. I’ve never heard from him again. BTW, the rash is Uticaria (aka Hives), and are caused by stress. I took the last of my pills yesterday, called the office, and left a message that if I could not get my pills through them, I was going to be forced to change my doctor to another company, and would be looking to buy “black-market” Klonopin in the meantime. I don’t figure I will get a call-back from them until Monday at least. And, I believe I know where I can buy at least a couple of the pills.

I don’t understand why I, as a 73-yo woman, should have to experiment with new drugs that are supposedly better than the Benzos – the doctor tried me on Seroquel, but it did nothing but make me sleepy – it did nothing for my stress.

Now, what about the stress? I am not going to bore you with the story of my life, I’ll just say there were incidents that built up over the years, and brought me a diagnosis of PTSD several years ago. That, and my Type-A personality, make me susceptible to excess stress. From my sessions with therapists, and some yoga training, I can pretty well handle stress to an extent. But sometimes, I just need extra help, and that is by using an occasional anti-anxiety pill, what they used to call “mother’s little helper”. I don’t abuse the med, I am too interested in having a clear mind, and don’t want to drug myself out.

One thing I have taken on, and don’t want to get rid of at the moment, is I consented to serve as Vice-President of our Resident Council. You know the story. You can’t please everyone, so naturally, I’ve caught a little flack by residents who don’t understand, or don’t care, that we do this voluntarily, that we really are trying to help residents with problems that are not management-related, and that all we are trying to do is good. But too many people are not satisfied with that. I feel like this is a worthwhile job to do, and don’t want to give it up. And that leaves me in a quandary. Will it bother me more to keep doing the job, or to throw up my hands and say I cannot handle it. Elections are coming up in a month’s time, and if I can get back on my Klonopin, I will want to continue trying to be of some use.

I’ve given up politics because of the stress. Must I give up everything else that might have a little stress involved?

So, I have a couple of dilemmas to solve here, but I am healthy, and all I need is to find someone who will write the prescription for a med I have been taking for 25 years, which has done nothing but help me when I need it, for the little extra help I occasionally need to keep from going off the deep end.

I got a statement from the hospital a couple of days ago for the three hours I spent there, which would have given me a “heart attack”, if I didn’t know I didn’t have to pay for it. Three hours, an ambulance, three EKGs, and one X-ray – $6100. Holy cow!!!

I’m fine, really I am, and ready to get back to Facebook and friends.

Love you all,
Carol Stepp
Austin, TX

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About carolstepp

Music is about the most important thing in my life, and I follow a large number of musicians, particularly Irish, Scots, Classical, Crossovers of any of these. I was writing a blog about Celtic Thunder regularly on MySpace, and now I have left them after a year, and will start writing my blogs here. I am 70, retired, living on Social Security, and have a lot of social network fans.
This entry was posted in Health, Medicine, Mental health, personal thoughts. Bookmark the permalink.

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