Complicated Issues

  1. Ok, here is my story. I am a cardiac RN for 3 yrs, and a bit of a self-diagnosed hypochondriac. Five years ago this Oct. 31 I lost my father at age 43 to an MI. Since then, I have found myself worrying very often over this happening to myself. I have had an EKG, ECHO, labs, and a Holter done all within the past year by my primary doc. I am 23. Everything has been negative. Still, every year around this time I can feel the anxiety and worry coming on, which causes me to have this mild chest pain which is more of an dull ache, but goes away with movement. It is not midsternal or radiating. It is often worse with deep breathing and is often reproducible upon palpation. I have been told I have costochondritis. However, how much a part do you all think stress/anxiety can have to do with this? Costochondritis seems like such a vague illness to me. I have had my lipid panel done which was excellent, I exercise several times a week, running without pain or discomfort, never have any other symptoms. It is always around this time of year. I believe it is due to the anxiety of my father's death when I was so young and the anniversary of that coming up. I first started having these symptoms about a month after his death, and I remember reading a KODA pamphlet that explained occasionally people can have the s/s of the illness that a loved one died from. Any comments or suggestions? This drives me crazy to deal with every year!
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    About HillNPStudent

    Joined: Apr '05; Posts: 92
    RN-Critical Care
    Specialty: Med-surg, Critical Care


  3. by   papawjohn
    Hey Lovern

    I have an strongly + family Hx of cad. I have made sure that I stay active in aerobic activity. (I was a triathelete---never very 'victorious' but SINCERELY hard work-outs). (I rode my bike across the USA--a great experience, not THAT athletic--something everyone who is able to do, should do.)

    At least every 10 yrs I am on a cardiac MDs treadmill--just to look for ischemia. Who knows unless they check?

    Papaw John
  4. by   traumaRUs
    Have you considered counseling? I think you have hit the nail on the head in that you state you know you are anxious around this time of year. Take care.
  5. by   angelique777
    [font="comic sans ms"]hi

    wow 23 and already a nurse.
    you must have been working very hard straight out of high school then to nurisng school and here you are a nurse. your dad
    i am sure he is very proud of you. i regret that so young an age he would be gone from your life. each day is a gift and what ever time we have with someone is truely a privelage. must be hard to reach the anerversary of your dads passing each year and on top of it feel this discomfort.

    i hope and pray that this year you will feel some relief. its good to take time to talk about it and kinda go through the motions of figuring what it is that is bothering you.there is nothing in life like saying this is driving me crazy and someone just listen and say hey that is tough. do what ever is medically necessay to rule out a problem but also take time to be with friends and get out of your routine and do something that will bring you pleasure. kinda of get your mind off the situation and see if it brings some relief.

    having a good laugh and having some one to kinda lift you up during that time of the year may help to. its is real hard to loose people we love and our bodies have all ways of reacting to feelings we can not express or put into words

    hope you find a solution to this situation. i will lift you up in prayer tonight that some revelation to the situation comes to you along with relief. also hoping you in the mean time take some time away from the hospital and out with friends.

    being a nurse is hard we are around sick people all the time and it can be a real hardship if we do not find a way to get our minds away from the work and get some good recreation.

    in the mean time if symptoms persist despite recreation and surrounding your self with friends during this time of the year for you then it would not hurt to make sure it not a medical condition.

    lost both my brothers this year and my dad too and its hard just graduated from nursing last year . so its hard. work is very demanding and well there are tons of stuff that cause us stress. geez i am on telemetry and the alarms alone seem to put me into crisis there are some nights i swear i think am going to have an attack or go into a dysrythmia myself lol...........and a few nights of nurse nurse nurse from patient who you already saw like 20times already for little things like move my table fluff my pillow and well it can make your week tough. then add in personal stuff and well it is a receipe for pain.

    feel better really. hope this goes away and you can have a good year.

    stay strong. with affection

  6. by   Jessy_RN
    I am so sorry. I too lost my father of a MI at 42, along with aunts and uncles. I too was like you are now. I even lost over 140lbs because of my "obsession" to stay away from this.

    Counseling definitely helps and so does knowing that you are taking good care of yourself.

    Best wishes to you.
  7. by   tencat
    I'm sorry you lost your dad when he was so young. :icon_hug: Anxiety/panic attacks can cause chest pain. It would probably be good for you to find a counselor to chat with.
  8. by   rn/writer
    Oprah recently did a program on women and heart disease. The doc on the program made reference to something called a 64-slice heart scan that shows an amazingly detailed 3-D picture of the heart from all directions. Oprah is known for having a wonderful heart and we actually got to see a picture of it. The doc on the show told her she has the heart of a 19-year old, free of blockages, and in excellent condition.

    I don't know whether insurance companies would be likely to cover such a scan or what the cost might be if they don't, but perhaps something like this would reassure you. has a link to help people find facilities in their area that offer the scan.

    That's the informational part of your quest. The emotional part is another matter.

    The information you already have shows every indication that you are healthy. With or without the additional input you'd get from the new scan, you still have to come to terms with what your family history and your father's early death does to you.

    Counseling sounds like a very healthy option. It isn't only your physical well being that influences how you feel but your psychological and emotional status, too. You can be as strong as a draft horse, yet still be crippled in your outlook. If you don't find a way to put your fears in their place, your ability to function will be compromised just as surely as if you had CHF or cardiomyopathy.

    A good counselor will be able to help you pin down exactly what these fears mean to you. Do you feel that you have unfinished business that you will leave behind, things you will never get to accomplish if your life were suddenly cut short? Are you worried that your untimely passing would hurt someone the way your father's death hurt you? Could you be concerned that you might leave this earth with barely a ripple, that your absence wouldn't mean much to anyone?

    Each of these possibilites, along with any others that might apply, is a shadow of an unmet need that has to be identified in order to be met. For instance, the concern about unfinished business could actually be a need in your spirit to find a sense of purpose in your present life. Worrying that you might hurt others with your death could signal that you haven't really come to terms with the loss of your father. I think you can see the pattern.

    You are right in seeing a connection with the timing of your symptoms. Anniversaries do often trigger a response. Significant dates don't cause the anxiety; they merely intensify the chronic pressure to a point where it demands attention.

    Please look into seeing a counselor with your concerns. And hold out for one who will take you seriously. Examine your thoughts to help determine what has you tied up in knots over this. Continue to take good care of yourself physically. If you think it would help allay your fears, investigate getting the 64-slice scan.

    Then do what you can to channel the energy that is fueling your worries into other areas that will help you achieve a sense of purpose and direction. If you are a spiritual person, ask God to reveal to you what your unmet need truly is and seek after that which will really fill it.

    I'm guessing that you might have a barrier in the area of trust. Health information that normally provides relief is not giving you comfort. Why? Because it doesn't sound like you can bring yourself to believe it. What if you relaxed and then had an MI anyway? Wouldn't that feel like a horrible betrayal? If you go to a counselor, have him or her help you take a closer look at what you have experience regarding your father's death. Perhaps that felt, and continues to feel, like a betrayal. You may be angry with him but unable to express such a "disloyal" emotion. If so, you could find yourself stuck in neutral, revving your engine in frustration, but unable to move forward.

    Who knows. There could be all kinds of reasons for your fears. The important thing is to make some kind of move that will shake things up and shine a light into your soul. Surround yourself with healthy people and consciously work to identify and savor the goodness in your life. Surrender the illusion that any of us can control our fate and decide that however many days are allotted to you on this earth, that you will make them sparkle and glow.

    I hope you are able to find comfort and joy.
  9. by   Chaya
    Lovern- How about an update?
  10. by   HillNPStudent
    Thank you all for your kind words of encouragement and advice. It helps so much just being able to vent my feelings every now and then. I am doing much better, like I said, it is always around that month that old fears and feelings creep up as I associate them with all the memories surrounding the anniversary of my dad's death. We were very close. My mother and I also have a wonderful relationship, and it helps so much just being able to talk to her. I consider it healthy that at least I recognize this and don't try to deny it or push it to the back of my mind and not deal with it. I do consider my faith to be a significant part of my life, and attribute a lot of my being able to deal with this loss to my spiritual life. I have a wonderful support system at home with my husband, but sometimes it helps just being able to talk to another person who's not so involved in your life. I keep busy, as we've just bought a new home, and I am in graduate school working on my MSN. I feel this gives me a sense of purpose, and I have always strongly valued my education. We don't have kids yet, but that is one prospect I look forward to very much in the future. I just take it day by day. I remember when my dad died that a close friend who had lost her father also told me, "the hurt of losing someone you love will never go away, it just gets easier and more bearable day by day." I have found this to be very true. If I sit and dwell on it long enough, I could be miserable forever, what motivates me is knowing my dad would never have approved of that sort of attitude. He always pushed me on to do my best at everything, and always wanted me to be happy. It does get easier with time, and sometimes I think it is healthy and helpful to just sit down when life gets tough and have a good cry. I think that's true for a lot of other areas of life too....