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A scary night at the ER

December 1, 2012
By Cindy Votruba , Marshall Independent

Thanksgiving Day started off uneventfully with a drive to my parent's house before we had to jump into their car to head up to Rice Lake, Wis. for the family dinner. It was nice to get together with my relatives for a couple or so hours, catching up with cousins, eating turkey and just relaxing.

I was looking forward to getting together with a high school classmate the following morning at Caribou Coffee in Hudson, along with a little bit of shopping, which included the obligatory visit to Half Price Books.

But around midnight, I had some pain in my chest. I usually follow the adage, it will get better eventually, there's nothing serious. I must have fallen asleep, but at about 3:30 a.m., I woke up. The pain was still there but a little stronger. Then I was feeling short of breath (not sure if that was from the panic of the chest pain or what). Somehow my mother woke up and asked what's wrong. I was a little hysterical at the time because I was having trouble breathing. So she got my brother up, and we all headed to the emergency room at the hospital in New Richmond. It had snowed a couple of inches that night, so the roads were covered and it was hard to see. My brother had missed the exit for New Richmond and had to go around a different way. I'm admittedly whining in the backseat as I was worried as to what this might be.

We make it to Westfields Hospital. It's quiet in the emergency room. I'm given a gown and told to take everything off above my waist before putting it on. Then I'm prepped for an EKG and put on oxygen. The nurse took some of my blood for labs. My blood pressure was checked. A doctor came in and asked questions, such as "on a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is the pain?" I rated it about a 7. After awhile, it was just me and my brother and mother in the room. The blood pressure machine took my readings a couple more times. I kept taking deep breaths on the oxygen. The last time I was given oxygen was after my open-heart surgery in 2003. I was given a muscle relaxer shot, which burned at first (I was warned). But eventually the pain subsided a bit.

A bit after 5 a.m., I was told there was nothing seriously wrong and that the pain may be a muscle spasm in my chest. It could've been because of stress or something got pinched. I was given instructions to rest, take Motrin and apply moist heat to my chest.

After roughly three hours of sleep, I was up and wanting to still meet with my friend at Caribou. My mother wasn't too keen on me going anywhere that day. But I guess my stubborn Bohemian side wanted to go; I'll just take things slow. Granted it was a bit uncomfortable riding around in my brother's backseat, and my chest still hurt. But I managed to get around. We all - my brother, Ross, my friend and I - sat and chatted for more than two hours there before heading to the Goodwill. Somehow I got through the day with visits to Best Buy, Half Price Books and Noodles and Company. Then it was back on the bed for me.

The pain subsided on Saturday for the trip back to Marshall and then the following day at work. It kind of came back Monday night, waking me up at 3:30 in the morning again. But I wasn't short of breath; it just hurt. So I took some ibuprofen, sat up for a while and then went back to sleep.

So I managed to get a consult with a visiting cardiologist this week. I had an echocardiogram more than a month ago to check things out. I'd been having shortness of breath issues when Ross and I would go hiking through parks and we'd be going uphill (always uphill). I was supposed to meet with one on Nov. 12, but that got moved to Dec. 12 as that particular cardio wasn't able to meet on that date. But since I had my little jaunt to the ER last week, I was able to squeeze in an appointment with another one of the cardios who comes to Marshall from Sioux Falls. Unfortunately he wasn't able to see my echocardiogram before the appointment, so I don't know what his interpretation would be as to why I'm short of breath while going up inclines. But on a good note, I haven't had chest pain in the last couple or so days. The cardio said I probably had a bit of pleurisy. Who knows?



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