Firstly please excuse this very long post but I guess itís a plea for help, which is very strange to me because I'm typically British, with a typical 'stiff upper lip'. I don't like bothering anyone and certainly don't like asking for help! BUT, and itís a big BUT, this is getting so bad it's breaking my 'British reserve' and affecting my outlook on things.
My symptoms are as follows,
I used to get a Ďflutterí/íjudderí feeling in my chest but now these are much more like Ďthumpsí. Straight after this I get a dull pain under the xiphy sternum (mine, Iíve found sticks out much more than anyone elses) and this pain travels through to my back and up my spine to my neck. The pain then worsens and I get a headache much like a moderate migraine headache which causes slight dizziness, nausea, blurred vision and difficulty in concentrating. Whilst this pain is progressing up my spine I get a congested/tightness feeling in chest and a slight wheeziness (feels like someone has their hands round my throat and my lungs are full of catarrh and I canít get rid). These symptoms last from a few hours to many hours and whilst the symptoms prevail the Ďthumpsí in the chest are more frequent.
I am constantly tired and I could quite easily sleep all day if left. In the past month I have been experiencing more pain under the xiphy sternum and the above symptoms have been more continuous than episodes. I now have constant pain under the sternum going through to my back and pain in my neck. My neck is Ďgrindyí and it is difficult to twist my head or my upper body without it aggravating the pain, in fact twisting my upper body is now very painful.
Whether it has any relevance or not, I do get a lot of muscle twitching now. Iíve had it before in my eye on occasion but now Iím getting it all over and more frequently.
I'm in a right old mess. I've had the same symptoms now for about 8 months, Iíve been off work for 4 months and in the last month they have become a lot worse and nobody can find the problem.
I'm becoming panicky and very scared about them and I'm in that situation now where this is causing me so much stress that sometimes I feel I just can't cope. It's on my mind every day and sometimes the pain is so bad it completely stops me in my tracks and I have to sit down and have a sleep!! I just can't carry on like this but because the doctor hasnít found a cause yet it is being put down to stress and that makes it even more stressful because itís the fact that it is there that is causing the stress in the first place!
Having said that, my blood pressure has mysteriously dropped over the past month. Prior to the current readings I am getting my blood pressure averaged about 138/86 (pulse 83) at rest. Strangely since my symptoms have become worse it now averages less with an increased pulse!!!
Iíll list what Iíve had done below but Iím wondering if it is a spinal problem that is causing the other symptoms and maybe Iíve been going down the wrong routes. Itís only a thought but if anyone can recognise any of the above or offer any advice I would be eternally grateful.
I started out by taking ibuprofen and then an antacid (losec tablet and then liquid gaviscon) which did not help at all. I was then referred to a gastric specialist who came to the conclusion based on his endoscopy examination 12 years ago, that it was just an irritation at the top of the stomach!!! And yes you did read correctly, it was 12 years. He had seen me 12 years earlier when I had a similar but much less severe problem and at that time decided to do an endoscopy which revealed some irritation. When I went to see him this time he didn't even examine me. His assistant did and from lying down on the exam table to getting off the exam table the elapsed time was a couple of minutes (hard to believe but my wife noticed the time). From that comprehensive examination he deduced that it was the same irritation as before and suggested an anti-depressant (amitriptyline)?. Around this time the possibility of gallstones was suggested but Iím not sure if thatís been checked as Iíve had some blood test but I donít know what they were for or if gallstones are diagnosed by blood test.
The next step was to investigate if I had any heart problems and I was issued with a 24 hour heart monitor. This was when my symptoms were less severe and up popped Murphyís law. On the day I had the monitor I didn't have any symptoms and it was deduced that there were probably no problems with my heart. To make sure I was referred to a cardiologist and this time I decided to go privately because it was bothering me so much and the good old NHS here in the UK has a 4 month waiting list. I saw the cardiologist who did an ECG (not the 12 lead one which I have since found is much more informative) and discovered a 'missed beat' at the time. This I didn't feel at all as the ones that were bothering me were severe 'thumps' as listed above. He deduced that there seemed to be no problem with my heart but said he would arrange for a CT scan of my head because of the headaches and a test for asthma because of the tightness in the chest.
After this I was prescribed an SSRI to help with the stress. This unfortunately had an adverse reaction and made me almost pass out on 3 occasions (tunnel vision) so I was taken off them and prescribed the amitriptyline from above. Although I have only had the amitriptyline for about a week I have not yet started taking it because I read the leaflet that came with it that said you should not take it if you have a heart problem and I am not 100% convinced that it is not a heart problem at the moment so I am going to discuss this with my doctor today.
I think Iíve got everything down and I apologise for the length of this post but itís difficult to remember everything and just getting this down on here is going to help me in the future.
Please get in touch if anyone can shed any light as I cannot think of what to do next. Here in the UK we have to rely on the National Health Service unlike you guys in the US so our GPís work off a budget which means that unless you have obvious symptoms with an obvious cause there is a reluctance to refer for any test. This forces me to consider paying privately (which of course would increase the stress because I canít really afford it) even though I shouldnít have to just so I can try and help my situation so any comments on tests/scans etc would help a lot.
Thanks in advance
Last edited by fry; 05-05-2005 at 04:17 AM.
Reason: forgot to include something
I forgot to include something and the bullitin board wont let me edit the post so I'll have to add it here,
Again, relevant or not I wonder whether it is a pressure thing as I get a fair bit of trapped wind at the top of my stomach and have to lean forward a few time to get rid of it. This doesnít explain why I have the pain when there is no trapped wind though! I wonder whether there is some sort of hernia there that is causing the pain and that maybe that is causing the missed beats due to its proximity????
Hi Fry,First off I am so sorry for the length of suffering,enough of the stiff upper lip,you deserve to be pain free, but most of all, the right to know why???? You are in this situation.I am 45 this month, had a heart attack in "97"so understand the fear,also have the spinal problems,and oh yeah!!! A stomach ulcer w/hernia,that protudes up from the small intestine into the stomach,I completely understand the beltching you mention that brings some relief,I have that also,so it sounds like the GI problems are there and should be looked at way closer,as far as the heart goes,men and women are so differant,but in general,symptoms of lets say coranary blockage or spasms,are short lived,seconds to min's,relief brought on by nitro,(Anginia)a full blown heart attack, tends not to let up without help,the missed beats you suffer from I also noticed increased while hospilized for the ulcer,my blood pressure also came down,I ponder that to this day.Do you notice any black stool tarry ?maybe off and on?I believe both the heart and GI deserves a much closer look,and maybe a chance at a holter moniter worn for a month,as far as your neck and spine, gee's anything is possible there, all our nerves that control everything runs that road,it could be that the stress of all this, has you tenseing up big time, for which I do not blame you,I hope you get some real help, dont let the Doc push you off,sorry I could not be a bigger help,let us know how this goes, and hopefully one of our fellow members can relate closer to your story,Take care Diana
fry, I guess my suggestion to you would be to have your cervical spine evaluated. A very close friend of mine who was 34 at the time, was having the chest pain and heaviness as well as the back and neck pain. The neck pain also would often cause her to have headaches and migraines. She too was very very tired and wanted to sleep all the time. The doctors all thought that it was her heart, as she had high bloodpressure as well, she underwent all tests for her heart to have them come back within normal limits.
The doctors finally started looking at her cervical spine to find that she had a bulging disk that was rubbing and thinning her spinal cord. This was the cause for all her problems, as the doctors had said that ocassionally a cervical problem will often cause symptoms that will mimmic a heart condition, due to pressing on the nerves or spinal cord.
Just thought i would let you know. Good Luck to you!
Many thanks for your replies, and I apologise for the delay in my post but I've had PC problems as well!!!!!
Just as an update (and I'm going to post in the cardiac section about this) the pain (and nausea) was so bad in the last couple of days that I had to stay in bed and I've not eaten for 2 days....
I have recently been finding that my 'missed beats' are somehow linked to eating (strange as it may sound) as I seem to be getting them shortly after. For the most time it feels as if there is a 'lump' in my throat...........the sort of feeling you get when emotional or you've just swallowed something a bit big that you should have chewed more!............and I do get a feeling/irritation under my sternum when I swallow.
Makes me think there is a problem there that somehow is impinging/rubbing/affecting my heart rhythm..............is this possible?????
Thanks again, it really is good to 'talk' to someone when you're at desperation point and there is nobody else there.
Im not an expert on spinal problems, like you Im hoping i dont have one. Like you I also have g.i. symptoms and problems in that solar plexus area, as well as soft stool.
I also have neuropathy, burning in my muscles. It all started with the g.i. symptoms, though i may have hurt my neck area with an exercise machine. I too, developed panic and depression. I have a pounding heart many times in that solar plexus area, yet scopes etc. find nothing.
Most of the doctors have concluded the whole thing is panic attacks, but i have my doubts.
You didnt mention if you are aware of hurting your neck or upper back prior to this.
What kind of diet are you doing now? Do some foods make it worse?
Its been a year for me, one terrible year, I hope yours improves soon.