My first hospital visit & hundreds of dollars later

You may recall, a few weeks ago, when I posted about having a week from hell due to almost passing out at work and burning my hand on a pan. I had no idea the following weeks were going to pivot into something terrible.

A few days after writing that post, on Monday (8/5), I went back to the gym early morning and felt great. Well, sort of. I was pretty worried that maybe I shouldn’t be working out yet  after almost passing out the week before at work and felt a little hesitant when I was at the gym. But I made it through and thought, “Okay, maybe this isn’t so bad. Things are okay again.” So I got ready for the day, and decided to head to Target before going to work to get my boss a present (she’s pregnant and just found out the sex). On my way to Target, I felt extremely anxious. My Apple Watch told me my heart rate was at 130 as I was driving, but I chose to ignore it and I powered through whatever the hell was going on.

As soon as I got into Target, I decided to get breakfast at Starbucks as I thought maybe I just needed some food. While waiting for my order, I suddenly felt very dizzy. My vision was getting limited, as if there was a black vignette around the picture I was seeing, and I could tell my heart rate was elevated without even looking at my watch because it felt like it was beating out of my chest. My chest hurt, I was sweating like crazy, and I was so scared something either was really wrong with me or that I was going to pass out. Honestly, I thought I was going to die in the middle of the Target at 8am, surrounded by no one I knew.

I tried going to work because the feelings slightly went away, but I was still terrified and my heart rate was steady at 110. I could barely concentrate, and went home and worked from my couch instead. In hindsight, I probably should have got help right away but I was hoping it would just clear up soon like it did last time. When lunch time came around, Lenny came home and the dizziness and increased heart rate started happening again.  I cried on his shoulder, called my mom, and she told me to call my doctor.

I should mention that I’ve been feeling slightly hesitant about my doctor in Vegas after my last few visits with her. During my last visit I told her about how I was getting a really itchy face after eating and was trying to determine if I needed to see an allergist, or if it was as simple as her ordering a blood test. I’ve never had an allergy so I wasn’t sure how to approach what was happening. Instead, she surprised me and told me that I needed to immediately get both an ultrasound of my thyroid along with an MRI of my head because I probably had paralysis caused by my brain.

Oh, okay. No big deal. I was freaking out after this appointment, and started questioning what was happening with me. Did I ignore warning signs of a tumor when all this time I thought I had a simple allergy? When I called to schedule my appointment for these tests, it was going to be a little over three weeks before I could get in. I was extremely on edge and really thought I was in danger.

Fast forward a few days, and I figured out that maybe the cause of my itchy face was actually a reaction to diet soda. I’ve been drinking quite a bit of Coke Zero (a weakness, lol) and it seemed to be the only constant when this reaction was happening. I stopped touching anything with aspartame and next thing I know… no itchy face!

But the voice was still in the back of my head: what if something is really wrong with me?

Anyway, this brings me back to the almost-passing-out-at-Target day: I call my doctor, despite feeling like a billing agent, and they tell me to come in later that day. I leave the house around 4pm after giving a big goodbye to Lenny (who was also leaving to head out to Salt Lake City for a work trip), and drove to my appointment, trying not to lose my vision and to keep my heart rate down.

My doctor sees me and immediately sends me to the hospital, afraid that I have a blood clot or that something might be wrong with my heart.

I felt oddly calm despite being sent to the ER. I was under the impression I was about to receive some answers, and I couldn’t wait to talk to a doctor that wasn’t my own and get some opinions around what was happening to me.

This is where my friend Alex stepped in – he drove across town, picked me up at the doctor’s office, and straight to Summerlin Hospital. He then waited at the hospital with me to make sure I was okay. Alex, you are an angel. I really do owe you and Katelyn a lovely night out.

So, the ER sends me in immediately for an EKG: they determine my heart is fine. They have a lot of things attached to me to monitor my heart and blood pressure. Not too long after being there, my beautiful friend Skylar shows up. She unfortunately has to witness me go through an “episode”: dizziness is back, and apparently not only did my heart rate go up to 150 but my face turned white and my lips blue. After that, the doctor decides I’m being admitted.

Still no answers. A random doctor came in and told me I could never take birth control again, with no explanation. I kept telling the doctors that I have really bad anxiety and asked if that could be a part of the problem (or if they had a way I could calm down), and it was pretty brushed off. All I wanted to do was sleep and for my heart rate to go down below 100.

Skylar and Alex went to get my car from the doctor’s office and drop it off at my house, and they even fed my dogs, grabbed my phone charger, and any clothes I needed. When they came back, Alex left and Skylar’s boyfriend Kyle joined us: with dinner! I cried when I was alone not just because I was extremely overwhelmed but also because I couldn’t believe how thankful I was to have that support, especially with Lenny being on a plane to Salt Lake City, unaware that I was being admitted to the hospital. Skylar and Kyle stayed with me until I was rolled into my new room where I’d be staying for an indefinite amount of time.

Don’t worry, they captured me on the way up:

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Skylar and Kyle, the angels, left the hospital to go pick up my dogs to stay with them. Skylar came back to the hospital to not only give me my keys but to deliver some pajama pants.

Meanwhile, I was watching Forensic Files on repeat, enjoying the company of my amazing nurse, and trying to get my heart rate down. Eventually they gave me a Xanax to help, but I didn’t sleep until about 3am and woke up close to 5:30am.

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In summary, I did an echo test (basically a heart ultrasound), had my heart rate monitored all night, lots of blood work done, got a CT scan of my head in the morning (it was freezing cold), blood work sent out for my thyroid (which was fine, btw), and an ultrasound of my throat. I was eventually discharged at around 8:30pm after the cardiologist determined that I was okay but that I would need to do a follow-up with him immediately.

Still, no answers.

I saw my primary doctor in Vegas the next day. She told me absolutely no more caffeine, not even tea, and no more working out aside from a brisk walk.

I did a follow-up with the cardiologist on Tuesday, a week after my hospital visit. I was feeling pretty off until then, having random episodes of feeling dizzy and withdrawing to stay inside as much as possible. I was so relieved when Lenny got back from his work trip because I was too scared to drive or even venture out to the grocery store.

The cardiologist didn’t have any answers for me, but recommended that I do something called a tilt table test and that it would help to see what’s going on with my heart rate and blood pressure when I feel dizzy. I got it scheduled for a week later at Sunrise Hospital.

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This was the aftermath of the test. Let me start off by saying that this was the absolute, most uncomfortable experience I’ve been through. They strapped me to a table, and then elevated me to about 75 degrees in hopes that I would faint. Apparently, if I faint, the test is over and I “pass”. If I don’t faint, I get to be elevated for 30 minutes.

I was so anxious. After a few minutes, I started to feel very dizzy. The guys who were monitoring me said my heart rate was at 160, and I started to feel sweaty everywhere even though the room was freezing cold. My fingers felt like they were tingling, and my vision was going out. I felt nauseous. All I wanted to do was break out of those straps and sit down, but I couldn’t. I wanted it to end. So I told myself to just let go and pass out so that the test could be over. My body would not let me. Instead, I was able to somehow bring my heart rate down to 55 and all the crazy symptoms went away. I chatted with the guys casually until the end of the thirty minutes and felt great.

I still had no idea what the hell was happening to me.

In a nutshell, this has been a very, very expensive process despite my insurance being pretty great. I finally have a high-paying job where I’m able to make a real dent in my student loans, credit, etc, and I ended up racking up so much money on my credit card to cover the costs of all my doctor visits, follow-ups, the hospital visit, extra tests, etc.

The cherry on top? My primary doctor tried billing the wrong insurance and sent me a fat bill for not being insured. I’ve called every day to get a hold of the billing department and haven’t heard back from anyone.

So unfortunately, my big dent no longer exists and I’m working my ass off to get some extra commission to pay off all the medical bills. It was pretty enlightening to see why so many people can’t afford health care (even with insurance!)  – I just assumed that a lot of this stuff would be 100% covered by insurance and didn’t realize much copays would add up.

So, what’s my theory about what’s happening to me?

I’m almost positive now that these are panic attacks. I had no idea what panic attacks were until I started googling the shit out of my symptoms. Apparently panic attacks mimic a heart attack: sweaty, dizziness, chest pain, elevated heart rate, etc. And they happen randomly, multiple websites even giving examples of being in the middle of a meeting or while being relaxed. Essentially it tells your body that you’re in danger and puts you into fight or flight mode.

My mom sat next to a friend of my sister’s at a softball game and found out she went through the same exact thing as me, and after multiple hospital visits and additional tests, the only logical conclusion was panic attacks. After hearing this, I did even more research and discovered that I should find a therapist to attack my anxiety and see if that would help. I even bought a book on how to manage panic attacks and come down from them.

I was on a plane the other day to San Francisco and felt it happening. Deciding this was actually a panic attack, I followed the advice given to me in a book and was able to bring myself down to “normal”. I felt oddly great after because this maybe meant that I found my answer to what has been causing this all to happen.

I had my first therapy appointment last week and found out something interesting (that I wasn’t aware of): you can’t actually faint during a panic attack. I’ve been so scared of passing out in public and it really contributed to my anxiety. I had no idea that when your heart rate is elevated that it can’t happen. So that’s been helpful.

I am really excited about my therapist. She made me feel like I wasn’t insane and that this was something I am going to get through. There are a lot of things we’re going to focus on: self image, past relationship trauma, and managing my panic attacks. She gave me some great advice to ground myself when having one (relax my body and try to point out things in my mind that are around me), and to remind myself throughout the day to unclench any parts of my body: I didn’t realize how often my whole body is tense.

So why did this all start happening? My therapist thinks it was a huge combo of Lenny coming back from deployment (big change), getting a new job (big change, despite the job being less stressful), planning a big event (my 10 year reunion), trying desperately to lose weight and not making much progress, and the news from my doctor that my food allergy might actually be a tumor (although, it wasn’t).

I’m making some big changes going forward. I’m still focusing on weight lifting, but I’m going lighter on the weights. I’m also balancing out my routine by adding in yoga, meditation, pilates, and swimming. I downloaded a meditation app on my phone to do before work each day. I’m not pushing myself at work. I’m reading more (about to start my sixth book in two weeks). I’ve been spending less time on social media. I’m starting to say yes to things more that I want to do, and saying no to the things that are spreading me too thin. Another fun thing I’m doing is actually making eye contact with people who walk by me in the hallways at the building I’m in at work and saying “Good morning” or “hello”. I am getting coffee in the mornings, and redirecting my diet to not be restrictive and to just be cognizant of what I’m eating – focusing a lot more on mediterranean style foods and to not feel guilty for indulging in a treat or two.

Also, I’m sleeping more, and enjoying any cuddle time I can get with the dogs:

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This has been a beyond stressful experience for me, both mentally and financially. There were a lot of times I thought I was going to actually die (apparently also a side effect of panic attacks). A few times before going to bed I kept telling Lenny how much I love him and to please tell my family that I care about them, too. I felt like this feeling would never go aware and that I would forever have trouble sleeping, feel weak all hours of the day, and be terrified of going out in public. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.

The most frustrating part of this whole ordeal is that not one doctor has brought up that this could be anxiety-related. That all of it has been, “Come back and see me.” and not “Here’s what I’m thinking this could be, so we’re going to do this test to rule out this diagnosis.” I’ve felt very in the dark about why tests are being done and I’m still very upset that my doctor ordered a MRI because I was having an allergic reaction.

There is definitely a stigma around anxiety. I’m hoping that by being open about what’s happening to me that someone can read my story and not feel as scared as I did. I’ll try to keep everyone updated on my progress as much as possible.

Thank you to everyone that’s been so supportive. Once I have emerged from my medical debt I will pay you in food and gifts.

Love,

Andie

 

 

 

A week from hell (with some sides of good)

In summary, within the last week I have cut open my thumb, burnt my hand, cut open my leg, and almost passed out mid-meeting.

Last week I was meal prepping and cut my thumb pretty badly because the knife slipped while I was attempting to core the bell peppers. So, one handed I finished prepping then went to cook dinner: stuffed poblano peppers. I rarely ever put pans in the oven, so once it was out on the counter I totally forgot it just emerged from 12 minutes in 425 degrees and… I grabbed the handle. It was awful. My hand felt like it was on fire for hours, looked like it was going to blister, so at 1am I popped over to urgent care to find some kind of remedy.

A few days later, I went to move the dog play pen and ended up cutting open my leg when I swung my leg over. It’s very sore and any kind of pressure is unpleasant.

Then yesterday happened. I felt great at the start of the day – nice workout, my coffee was finally good (this is rare at my office), and I had some oatmeal. Work was going really well and I just felt confident. I had a meeting at 12:15 and right before it I just started feeling off. I was so cold and it felt like I couldn’t warm up even though I was wrapped in a sweater. I went into my meeting and just kept thinking I would power through the meeting then see about going home if I didn’t feel any better.

Well, my body had a different idea. During the meeting everything got really fuzzy and it felt like I was about to pass out. I had no idea what to do. So I stood up and headed to the bathroom only to get an alert from my Apple Watch that my heart rate had suddenly spiked to 180. I was really scared. I went back and told my boss what was happening, called Lenny to come pick me up, and immediately went to urgent care. Doctor basically said they can’t determine what had happened, but my heart rate and blood pressure were higher than normal and my EKG was normal, too.

So I stayed home from work today. Something I haven’t done in a long time. I have no idea what caused yesterday to happen, but it really scared me and I’m still pretty freaked out.

Aside from all that, there’s been some positive changes as well.

First off… we got a new puppy! His name is Rollo and he’s about 9 weeks old now.

 

He’s kind of a monster, so it’s pretty hard to get a good photo of him. But he’s my favorite one so far of him with his big sister, Snickers!

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Second, I went blonde which has been really fun.

 

Third, I closed my first deal at work – I’m only 6 weeks in and I guess the “norm” is for that to happen around 12 weeks! It was really exciting and I can’t wait to see what else happens with my job. I’ve been really happy in my new position and I really, really enjoy what I do. My boss even got me something to celebrate with!

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Not really sure what the next couple weeks are going to look like. I’m really hoping I turn out okay. We shall see. I do know I have missed reading & writing and I’ve been trying to spend less time on social media and more on just investing in myself whether it’s reading a chapter instead of mindless scrolling, taking a hot bath, or watching a ton of Netflix. I feel a lot better.

I’m also really thankful to have Lenny – he has been so helpful this week and I don’t know how I could have handled all this alone.

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Here’s to better weeks.

Love,

Andrea

The Struggle of Losing Weight (& other updates)

Hey friends – it’s been a very long time since I wrote something.

I’m slightly disappointed in myself for putting aside a lot that is important to me: a big one being writing. I’ve realized that I’ve just been lazy when it comes to what I’m passionate about, and that I keep saying no to things that scare me instead of taking a chance on them.

So lately I have been practicing saying yes. Especially when it comes to plans – I think I get in this comfortability and just end up staying at home, so I’m trying really hard to break my Netflix routine. Whether it’s to meet up with friends, go hiking, or just read a book – feels better than scrolling endlessly on my phone.

With that, I also need to really step out of my comfort zone of food. I have been eating like absolute crap, and it’s really going against my goal of losing weight. I’m at the gym about 5-6 days/week and I’m not making any progress because I’m eating like shit. The plus side is that I am getting stronger, but I haven’t seen many results on the scale or in my measurements.

One thing I’m proud of is that last week I stuck to my meal prep for lunch every day. I tried really hard to stay under my calories for the day and I mostly accomplished it. This week will be tougher because I’m traveling for work, but I’m going to still be good – especially because I won’t have access to a gym. I’m going to make up for it by walking to work every day I’m here (1.5 miles each way).

Another accomplishment of the week was being able to add weight to my bench press. When I first started weight lifting, I had a lot of trouble benching just the bar: I could barely get through 10 reps in just one set. Eventually I was able to do about 4 sets of 12 with the bar. Then this week I added 5 pounds and was able to do 3 sets of 12 with it.

So, a few non-scale victories. But not seeing any other progress has been so discouraging. But it’s my fault, and I really need to step it up and get back into it on the food front. I’ll try to post about my meals to keep myself accountable (and to help anyone having the same struggle as me!).

The best part of this whole process is having a group of friends to keep me accountable on my fitness (Makenzie, Roxanne, Danielle, & Rachelle). I’m not sure how I started getting tagged in things but I love that I got pulled into it. I love you guys.

Aside from the attempt at weight loss, I have two huge updates in my life: 1) Lenny is back home from deployment and 2) I started a new job last week. Each of those items will get their own post, because there’s a lot to unpack there.

Otherwise, things are pretty groovy. I’m currently in San Francisco for week two of my new job, wishing I had better shoes.

Goals for this week:

  1. Walk to work in SF
  2. Stay accountable on calories
  3. Don’t give up on my health
  4. Be consistent (food & gym)
  5. Write about my new job (& Lenny)

Love,

Andie

Short Life Update

I really hate writers block. I’ve been avoiding writing, which is odd because it’s such a release for me, but every time I try to nothing happens. So I’m taking advice from an old teacher to just do it anyway.

My big focus right now: weight loss. Well, that and work. I’m currently in busy season at my job and I’ve been working around the clock. Normally I’d be complaining, but I truly love what I’m doing right now and it’s been all my choice to put in the hours that I am. I just really want to do well – to be the kind of recruiter that actually connects with the candidates. I want to be honest in my feedback to people and I want to be transparent throughout the entire process. It’s been a challenge being a first-time recruiter for such a huge company, but I feel like this job is meant for me in a way.

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So then there’s the weight loss. I have quite a bit to get rid of. My first goal is to lose 40 pounds, then see where I’m at once I reach that point. If I’m happy before that point, I’d also be happy to stop. The next step after the loss will be to really focus on toning and cutting.

I joined Lifetime Athletic last week which is essentially a club – it’s also expensive as hell. But it being expensive has actually motivated me to show up to work out every day because I don’t want my money to go to waste. It’s time for me to fully invest in myself! My new routine has been: work, dinner, gym, bed. I love going to the gym later in the evening because not a lot of people are there. I’m still extremely self conscious when I work out in front of people, so it’s something I’m working to overcome by being comfortable there first.

I downloaded this app to get some guidance on work outs and food. I’m actually really excited about the meal plan that I got because it’s going to force me out of my comfort zone to try new things. And to actually cook! I love cooking and baking, so I can’t wait to get back into it. I’ve felt very lazy recently, which has been a product of some other personal issues, so this may help to pull me out of my rut.

It’s honestly been a tough month. I’ve just felt very lonely. I think it’s been a combination of all the changes that have been happening in my life, mixed with also trying to save money (unsuccessfully), lose weight, and taking care of the house by myself. It’ll probably get easier once work slows down – at least that’s what I’m really hoping.

I did finish up my travels this fall for work. I ended up visiting quite a few schools! Arizona State, Michigan State, Penn State, Cornell, Ithaca, University of Southern Mississippi, and UNLV (my alma mater). My favorite part about being on campus is meeting all these wonderful students who are just so excited to start their careers. I remember that feeling and want someone to experience a special recruiting experience just like I did. I almost miss it, in a way. It was exciting and exhausting all at once, but getting that call with my first official job offer literally made me cry. It felt like I could finally be an adult.

On a side note, I’m very excited for Christmas. I can’t wait to decorate. I’m also beyond stoked for Thanksgiving because I get to go home and see my family. I’ve really missed them.

I don’t feel very inspired like I usually do to write – so I’m making a promise to myself to try again tomorrow.

Thanks for tuning in for my short update 🙂

Sincerely,

Andie

 

The past few weeks I… well, a lot happened.

Short list: I left the accounting industry, I started a new job, I attended two weddings (and was a bridesmaid for the first time), got to see my family, AND I saw Lenny for the first time in almost two months.

Today is actually one of those days that I want to write to remember how good I feel instead of writing to try and feel better. Just in the last couple weeks I feel as though my life has done a complete 180.

So, the big change for me: I left my job in audit, and accounting all together. I think anyone who has known me through college knew it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, which is funny because I did end up majoring in it. I’ve had so many people reach out after seeing my job update to say, “But… you majored in accounting. What about your degree?” My degree is a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a focus on accounting. The reason I picked accounting is because it was the most technical and I felt it was one of the best ways to not just understand the entire business cycle but to also feel comfortable around the financials in the business. I was always hoping to use accounting to do something else in the future that I enjoyed more but considered it to be a good foundation to understand business overall 🙂 If people are really interested I can go into further detail about my experience as an auditor in public accounting, but most people just assume the usual myths that 1. I’m good at math, 2. I can do their taxes, and 3. It meant I was boring. Haha! All not true. So, where am I going now?

I started my new job as a recruiter a week ago. I am now a “college recruiter”, which basically means my main focus will be recruiting students who are either about to graduate or who are still in college, for various positions in either internships, leadership programs, or direct placements. What else does it mean? Lots of travel to various campuses. My first trip is next week!

Since my new job has started, everything feels different. I feel like a whole new person. I’m excited to wake up in the mornings. My days are going by so quickly. I love my coworkers and how welcoming every single person has been. Since my work life has improved, my mental state and home life have, too. I’m more motivated to do things: I’m working out every day, I’m eating healthier, and for the first time I actually feel as though I can relax when I get home. I didn’t realize how something as “small” as getting a new job (well, career) could make the biggest difference.

The crazy part is that it has changed other things in my life, too: I feel more confident, and more like myself. Which has impacted my relationships as well – with Lenny, friends, family. I just feel like things are overall better. I’m very happy right now. I know it has only been a week but it’s all so different.

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Last weekend I got to see Lenny for the first time in almost two months, and it was a whirlwind of emotions. We haven’t really been able to communicate a whole lot while he’s been gone, which has been really tough when you’re attempting to maintain a long distance relationship. Getting to see each other and actually sit and talk helped tremendously, more so because we know what to expect during the deployment now, and we know what goals we have. I am beyond excited for our future together and I am so proud of him. Not only is he getting ready to go overseas but he’s spending his free time studying master-level courses. He’s unbelievable (Lenny, I love you).

There’s more to say – much more, actually, but this is the latest I’ve stayed up in awhile and it’s time to attempt to get some sleep after this long, 3-day weekend 😉 I hope everyone was safe over Labor Day.

Love,

Andie