The Grinch's Small Heart Grew Three Sizes That DayWednesday, January 28, 2015
Around this time last year, John and I were doing...watching TV when all of a sudden his chest started hurting.
He was having trouble breathing and his grimace told me that his "little bit of pain" was more painful than not. I panicked a bit and told him to lay down (which we would learn later was actually the wrong advice to give). I told him to take it easy but it didn't seem to ease any of the pain. At first we thought that maybe he was just like...really out of shape. But when his breathing didn't even out and the pain didn't diminish we thought that maybe this was something a bit more than just a lack of cardio.
I took him to one of those ERs that aren't really ERs, an urgent care facility. He filled out the paperwork and eventually he got to go the back. They did the whole blood pressure, temperature thing and when everything came back normal he waited to speak with a doctor. The doctor asked him what was wrong and when John told him, they decided to do an EKG.
Some nice nurse came in and hooked him up with the electrodes, started the machine, and when it was done took the machine out and told us that the doctor would be back to explain the results.
He sat there, leaning forward, and breathing better but still with chest pain. The doctor was taking a while which we took to be a good thing. If he was having a heart attack they would have rushed right in, right?
Eventually the doctor came in and told us that John had pericarditis. An inflammation of the lining of the heart - the pericardium.
A viral or bacterial infection could cause the initial symptoms. Shortness of breath, chest pain that lessened when you bent or leaned forward, and fatigue. The doctor asked if John had been sick recently and when he said yes, we all figured that was what the problem was. The doctor gave him some super-ibuprofen and some antibiotics to ensure that all of the infection would clear.
John was supposed to check in with a cardiologist a few weeks after but since he didn't have any insurance and any more symptoms, he never went.
The only time I thought about his heart was when I dusted his abnormal EKG that we framed and put on a table.
Until yesterday that is.
Once again, about a year to the day, John woke up with chest pain. He didn't go to work and swallowed some aspirin but the pain wasn't letting up.
We ended up going to the ER, where they gave him an EKG, and a chest x-ray. Turns out, pericarditis can become recurring, sometimes for years.
They said that it wasn't life-threatening but that he really should see a cardiologist. They gave him some super-ibuprofen and a painkiller. And he's not supposed to go back to work until the day after tomorrow. He's been sleeping a lot (fatigue at its finest) and hopefully with rest, an anti-inflammatory and some painkillers he'll be good as new in a few days.
So basically, John's heart just couldn't contain all his love and affection and decided it needed some more space. Just like the Grinch, his small heart grew three sizes (not really) that day and he realized that Christmas doesn't come from a store.
He's doing better now and we'll probably make a collage of his EKGs and Xray to hang on our wall.