I THINK I have learned (but am reminded every October)...

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO 2004008944

It's a cold, drizzly day today, just as it was three years ago. I had photos to take then, as I do today. On October 5, 2012, after a day of fatigue and abdominal pain that came and went, I went to the hospital emergency room, expecting to be checked out and summarily sent home (again) with no answers. It had taken three tries to do a handful of dishes that evening. Each time I went to the sink, pain in my abdomen and back forced me to retreat to a chair at the kitchen table. I had mentioned to my husband two times already that day that I thought I might need to go be checked out, but each time I talked myself out of it. "I just need to rest," I kept reasoning, "and I have a doctor's appointment next week." My throat kept painfully tightening and I had sporadic, searing pain over the left side of my face.

Deep inside, though, I knew that something was really wrong. I finally admitted that to my husband out loud, warning him to be prepared for bad news this time as we left for the hospital. "This time, they're going to find something. This time, it's bad enough that they can't miss it, whatever it is." Upon approaching the check-in, I told the hospital worker behind the glass partition with the little, circular hole that I thought I was having a heart attack, something I had never before admitted. Instead of sending me first to triage and then sending me back to the waiting room for two or three hours, they had me prepped and hooked up to an EKG in under five minutes.

People were undressing me and sticking electrodes all over my underwear-clad body by the time my husband parked the car. He walked into a room that looked like chaos, barely able to see me through the cluster of people surrounding me. Five hours later, a still-confused ER doctor admitted me. He had no definitive answers, but he was convinced that I was right. "This simply must be your heart," he said, shaking his head and saying that no test so far proved that diagnosis. Shortly after noon the next day, though, an angiogram did provide conclusive answers.

Stents were not a possibility. I had life-threatening, severe multi-arterial coronary heart disease. I would be strictly monitored in the hospital and remain on the heparin already dripping into my veins until open heart surgery could be scheduled. I couldn't get out of bed unless two hospital staffers were present, one on each side, or even sit on the side of the bed. That was Saturday afternoon and they were going to try to wait until Monday morning for my surgery, as all of the heart teams had already worked overtime that weekend. They would, we were assured, do emergency surgery if my condition worsened. I went from walking into the hospital on my own power to being virtually tied to a bed within a few, short hours.

The frantic phone calls to family members started, but this time they were talking about ME, the one who often did that sort of "calling" and who usually stood by with other family members while a loved one faced a medical crisis. And pray. Though I watched my loved ones arrive at the hospital throughout the next 24 hours cope with varying degrees of shock and fear, I was relieved, relieved that doctors had finally diagnosed me after five years of assorted tests that all seemed to conclude that I was a hypochondriac or hysterical.

Four bypasses and a few medical crises later, I am still here. In these last three years, I have been hospitalized several times and have had three additional medical issues that defied easy diagnosis. Just as with the heart condition that nearly killed me, I was reluctant to push each issue with medical personnel who didn't at first find anything specific. Each time, though, I pressed ahead and risked the disdain of medical opinion as I insisted that something was wrong. My personal physician and my cardiologist trust my instincts now, both admitting that I simply defy definition or easy diagnosis. Six months after heart surgery, a subsequent heart attack was diagnosed through another angiogram, though I seemed fine in the ER. When I told my doctor I thought I had pneumonia the next year, she said "I can't hear it," as she positioned the stethoscope on various places around my chest and back. "You being you, though, we'd better check this out," she said and ordered x-rays. Sure enough, there it was in my right lung and pleural cavity.

Two additional issues have now been diagnosed and treated; because I trusted myself enough to discuss strange symptoms with doctors, and they trusted my instincts enough to listen to me. Both conditions, intestinal malrotation (sometimes deadly and for which I have now had a difficult, extensive surgery) and trigeminal neuralgia (progressive but treatable), are rare and difficult to diagnose. Both are under control now.

I THINK I have learned that I should trust my own instincts. I THINK I have learned that "We can't find anything wrong" is not the same as "Nothing is wrong." I THINK I have learned that sometimes it takes many tries to find the answer; but once you do find answers, you can also find a new normal. Friends and colleagues often forget that I ever had any medical issues. During last year's Ice Bucket Challenge and again during Vacation Bible School's dunking booth, I had to remind several would-be challengers that I could not participate due to my heart condition. "Oh, sorry, I forgot." That is reassuring, indeed. Life looks pretty normal from my perspective now.

Still yet, though, I THINK I have learned that even doctors can be wrong. I HOPE YOU hear me, and I hope you can learn this lesson vicariously. "We can't find anything wrong" is not the same as "Nothing is wrong." I KNOW that it is important to pass that message along to others, because it could save a life.

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If you are looking for a foreclosure in Cape Girardeau, Perry, N. Scott, or Bollinger counties, I am the region's most experienced REO agent. As the area's ONLY Fannie Mae direct listing agent, I list more foreclosure properties than any other agent in this MLS. I am among the few local agents approved to both list and sell HUD properties. Give me a call if you are looking for help with the purchase of a foreclosure property.

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Rainmaker
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Susan Laxson CRS
HomeSmart Professionals - La Quinta, CA
Local Knowledge & Global Network

Oh Liz, what a wake up call for many of us and thank you so much for sharing your personal story. Taking control of our own health and not letting ourselves be pushed aside, by frequently over-worked doctors and nurses, is life-saving. You are an inspiration!

Oct 05, 2015 09:16 AM #1
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Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Liz- I am so happy that you listened to your body, and please keep doing that.  My Larry shares a similar story with you, although no surgery but 3 stents.  Each time he had to insist to his doctors that something was wrong. 

Oct 05, 2015 10:00 AM #2
Rainmaker
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Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

There are times when our body and our intuition tells us something is wrong. We need to listen at those times.  I'm glad you did, and you got medical assistance, and are here to tell us about it!

Oct 05, 2015 12:28 PM #3
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Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Trusting your instincts is a must when dealing with your own health.  So glad you didn't let them brush you off and are getting to the root of your problems.

Oct 05, 2015 12:41 PM #4
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Robert Vegas Bob Swetz
Realty ONE Group - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Henderson Homes for Sale

Hello Liz ... we are all happy that you listened to your body and your post has been featured the group:

LATE NIGHT - EARLY MORNING AT ACTIVERAIN

Oct 06, 2015 12:43 PM #5
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Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

 

                       Thank you Liz Lockhart  for my Ah ha moment. 

Oct 10, 2015 11:38 AM #6
Rainmaker
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Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Liz. I am glad you are better now if not completely fixed. I too am dealing with something now and while I was afraid to start the parade, I knew there was something. Thjank you for sharing your story.

Oct 10, 2015 10:49 PM #7
Rainmaker
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Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

Liz, this absolutely could save someone's life and at the same time give someone enough thinking to get checked out.  Just such a post a couple of years ago by two people urged me to have a mammogram, which I did.  Nothing was wrong, but it sure is a releif to know that instead of assume it because there has been no cancer in my family.  Knock on wood.

Oct 11, 2015 01:24 AM #8
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Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner
Karen Parsons-Fiddler, Broker 949-510-2395 - Mission Viejo, CA
Orange County & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395

This hits close to home right now. So grateful you paid attention and took care of things. My son's mother-in-law ignored some symptoms of this, and finally ended up with congestive heart failure in the ER for the past month. She's doing ok right now, at home, but it's scary. My own husband died suddenly from a heart attack and I suspect he had some notice, but ignored it...or was afraid to deal with it. 

Oct 11, 2015 01:40 AM #9
Rainmaker
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Pamela Seley
West Coast Realty Division - Murrieta, CA
Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA

Liz, I'm glad to hear you are doing better. My mother passed away of heart disease last year at 81, so I'm very aware this is something that touches many of us. I look in to alternative theories and research because it seems to me conventional medicine has done a poor job of preventing disease. My mother was a practicing R.N. for many years and specialized in heart patients. The irony. 

Oct 11, 2015 05:05 AM #10
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Ed Silva
RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

We all can get some occasional pains, but when the pains persist and they are of the type you mention then it is time to get the experts involved.  How fortunate for you

Oct 11, 2015 10:48 AM #11
Rainmaker
303,859
Liz Lockhart
Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO - Cape Girardeau, MO
GRI, Cape Girardeau Real Estate

Ed Silva ~Those of us who are lucky get pains that reoccur. My pain was never in my chest. It was primarily in my throat and upper abdomen. The only times I have ever had chest pain, it was from pericarditis (and anyone with pericarditis is going to seek medical attention, because it is excruciating and you are sure you are dying), and I was not having a heart attack then. Pain is not always the first sign of trouble. FATIGUE is often the first sign, followed by shortness of breath.

Oct 11, 2015 01:53 PM #12
Rainmaker
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Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667 (MT), 914-419-0270 (NY), Broker in NY with Grand Lux Realty and in MT with (coming soon!) - Kalispell, MT
The House Kat

I am so glad you listened to your body and pushed the issue. You are absolutely right that ""We can't find anything wrong" is not the same as "Nothing is wrong."

Oct 11, 2015 10:28 PM #13
Rainmaker
303,859
Liz Lockhart
Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO - Cape Girardeau, MO
GRI, Cape Girardeau Real Estate

Pamela Seley ~ Much more research is needed on the topic of diet and heart disease. The cholesterol/triglyceride connection is strong for some people, but not for all. It certainly doesn't explain my heart disease.

Oct 11, 2015 11:35 PM #14
Rainmaker
1,516,122
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County

Your words are wise...we can't find is not the same, for sure.  It is unfortunate sometimes we leave it at those first words.  Good luck!

Oct 11, 2015 11:50 PM #15
Rainmaker
303,859
Liz Lockhart
Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO - Cape Girardeau, MO
GRI, Cape Girardeau Real Estate

Gary L. Waters, Broker Owner, Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC ~ The message that medical professionals SHOULD be giving is "We can't find anything YET." Patients often miss the rest of the message that ER doctors usually give, and that is to follow up with your own doctor. And they usually add, "If symptoms persist or get worse, follow up." We all want to pass the responsibility to find answers on to the doctors and leave it there. That simply is not the way it works.

Oct 11, 2015 11:58 PM #16
Rainmaker
558,403
HGNL Digital Marketing Agency
Detroit, MI
We are a full service real estate marketing agency

Liz Lockhart : I'm very glad you listened to your gut. I love the sunshine and positive energy you bring to this community. Keep safe.

Milan

Apr 01, 2016 06:03 AM #17
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