I wonder, if balance is a verb, is imbalance the opposite? Or just unbalanced? One of the things that I am realizing (or re-realizing as I seem to make this reflection over and over again) – is that I do not understand my bodies cues. The things it used to tell me, the indicators that I need to slow down – I am not really getting them.
After many days of renovating, and packing, and squeezing everything in, my body finally said enough. On Saturday morning at 8am, (we moved on Friday), I developed a whole new kind of chest pain. This was chest pain that I had never felt before – sort of like a heart burn only it wasn’t. It came in waves, and after about the third wave I got up from my desk and walked over to Scott in the back room to explain what was happening. Then another wave hit – and I said “I think I need to go to urgent care”. We quickly got our stuff together (searching for iPads so that we’d have something to occupy our time), and hopped in the car. The waves of pain continued, so rather than going to urgent care, I suggested we go to Emergency at El Camino Hospital (about a 5 minute drive away from the PAMF urgent care). As we arrived, Scott pulled up the car and escorted me in. He had to get a wheelchair for me, as the waves of pain had me afraid to walk. With each wave of chest pain came shortness of breath. It was truly horrible. When we told the receptionist that I had chest pain and shortness of breath, she paged the EKG tech. Within a minute or two (enough time to sign a few papers), someone was there escorting me to a bed. I laid down on the bed and immediately had another wave of pain. She hooked up all the leads, and everything seem to calm down. We waited five minutes and everything was fine. It was long enough to validate that I was not having a heart attack.
Then we waited. I’m not sure how long, but not too long. I was seen by a triage nurse, then we waited some more. The El Camino Hospital Emergency Room is a rather quiet place. Even when busy they are not crazy like Stanford. It was spit and polished clean, and had a very calming atmosphere. It didn’t feel like an emergency room at all. Eventually we were escorted back to a room (a private space – again very unlike Stanford). Someone took my vitals – my BP was slightly elevated but not terrible. I saw the physician assistant. They drew some blood. We waited. Eventually I was told that it didn’t look like a cardiac problem. This was intended to help relieve me. It had the opposite effect. You see, after cancer, everything, if it isn’t something else, looks a lot like cancer. If this wasn’t a heart issue, then what was it? At one point, I looked over to Scott and said “I don’t know what to hope for?” We thought maybe a blood clot? We could not figure out what the least probable cause could be.
They took a chest x-ray. That too came back clear. We did a second round of blood tests – while they kept me under observation – everything was fine. Knowing that the x-ray was clear relieved a little bit of my concern. Certainly, if it was cancer, it would should up on the x-ray wouldn’t it? Eventually the doctor came in and examined it to me. He explained that my pain was all exterior chest muscle (so not heart or lung related). That it was likely related to over-exertion. That is, all the heavy lifting I did the day before during our move (compounded by all the lifting I’ve been doing the last two weeks while we worked on the floors). The doctor’s message was that I needed to do a better job of taking care of myself. He said that the good news was, that the treatment for this was all within my own hands. He recommended Physical Therapy but also that I take a yoga class or some kind of exercise class where I do more stretching. That I needed to stop skipping my swimming because I was too busy renovating. Message heard!
And with that, we returned back the grind that is home renovation and moving out. My hubby got the brunt of it, in that he had to do a lot more running around and finishing up the old place. I’m paying a lot more attention to how much I’m lifting. I’m becoming more and more aware that my body doesn’t give me the same cues it did before. I don’t know that I’ve overdone something until something crazy happens – like severe chest pain – I just don’t know when to stop.
And this brings me back to balance is a verb – and imbalance is the anti-verb – and right now I need to recover from some imbalance so that I can get back to that balance state!