“I’d be careful if I were you, you are walking on a dangerous path” my boss says.
I sit stunned. I stay quiet.
It’s been a hard year, for everyone, I get it. People are tired of hearing this, but it has been especially brutal for healthcare workers like me. Being asked to do 4 different jobs at a time- my normal job, plus 3 COVID jobs- it’s been dragging me down.
Over the last few weeks, I developed chest pain. I had a feeling something wasn’t right (besides my lady problems) these past few months, but when these chest pains right around my heart began- I knew I couldn’t stay quiet much longer.
I set up an appointment with my boss.
I tell her I’m overwhelmed. She asks my solution. I ask if we can rearrange/reassign some of my responsibilities to individuals who don’t have as much.
Then she says it.
“I’d be careful if I were you, you are walking on a dangerous path. Comparing yourself to others. Saying you have more to do than them. We all have a lot to do because of COVID. Your other coworkers have done this before, complaining about having more work than others, and I’ve watched their mental health go bad”.
I’m stunned. Doesn’t she understand that is exactly why I’m here? My mental health (and physical health) has already been impacted.
“Just breathe” she says.
I walk to the bathroom. Cry my eyes out. I don’t believe it. Two years ago I applied to over 600 jobs. All for this. I never expected to be treated like this.
Amongst this I manage to text “Prince Player”. I can see he is trying to care, but, it feels off. Not genuine.
That night my chest hurts again. Bad. I grip it. And lean on my couch. I have to go to my doctor. Something isn’t right. But where do I have time? I have a full clinic the next day. I pray to God for a way. The next morning I wake up, the nurse from the clinic I was assigned to calls early and says clinic is cancelled for the day. This never happens and I thank God. I call my doctor’s office and they get me in right away.
I wait in the exam room for the doctor. I go during lunch so it’s rather busy, I wait 25 minutes which is unusual. All throughout, I’m nervous. I’m hoping doctor will tell me it’s allergies or something- but, I just know it won’t be. I never had a pain like this.
“Shaz what happened?” doctor comes in looking concerned.
“I uh. I’ve been having chest pains. Around my heart” I say looking down.
Doctor nods still looking concerned. “Let me take your blood pressure and pulse” he says.
“Blood pressure normal. Shaz…your pulse is extremely high” he says. I nod.
He pats my back looking sad. “We have to do an EKG.” My eyes widen.
“It will help us see what’s happening. I’ll be right back. In the meantime, you need to display this part of your chest and this part of your chest so we can put the EKG stickers” he says pointing.
Oh great. Wrong day to wear the lace bra.
He comes in a few minutes later. He sticks on the EKG stickers and waits for the results. He shakes his head, “Shaz, your heart rate is very high…”
I chuckle lightly. “I’ll live right?”
Every time I see him, I always think I have something I don’t and he laughs saying- “You’ll live”.
This time was different, he stayed quiet.
He looks away “I don’t know. I’ll be right back”.
My jaw drops.
He comes back with a print out of my EKG. He sits down and goes over it with me. “Shaz. You have an irregular heartbeat. It’s dangerous. What’s wrong? Are you stressed too much?”
I tear up. Boss. Job. “Prince Player”. Lady problems. Mom. Dad. Brother. Dog.
I nod my head.
“You are very healthy. You are in good shape, good BMI, you exercise, you don’t smoke or do drugs. You are not someone that should be having this problem. So we have to find out why. I’m going to send you downstairs to the urgent care, they will do a blood test so we can rule out any heart enzyme issues or infections that can be causing this. Depending on what those say, we will proceed with more tests.
For now, you know this is serious. I am prescribing a medication for you to take everyday for the next 3 months to help stabilize your heart rate and chest pains”.
I stare at him. I feel like I’m going to pass out.
Doctor stops talking. “Are you ok?” he asks. I nod.
He pats my back again. “Start the medication tonight. I will call you tomorrow to check on you”.
I get dressed and walk into the urgent care. They have a wait too. Now might be a good time to text “Prince Player” my usual hello text.
Finally it’s my turn. The urgent care doesn’t have baby needles and I got rolling veins and I wasn’t super happy about the blood draw. It is what it is.
I drive to the pharmacy to pick up my new meds. They say it will take them half an hour to fill. Now would be a good time to call my parents.
I sit in the parking lot. I close my eyes. Tears running down my cheeks.
Will I be like my friend’s mom who passed away suddenly from heart attack in her 40s? Will I be like my dad who had a stroke without even knowing? Will I be like-
My mom’s blowing up my phone. I can’t deal with anything right now. It’s time to call them and them.
I call my dad first. “Hey Shaz! You are early today!” he says.
“Uh yea dad..um, my clinic was cancelled” I say.
“You should have told me. Stock prices were good today. Would have had you buy one if I knew you were free” I smile lightly. My dad has been teaching me about stocks and it’s making us bond.
“I uh. Had to go to the doctor dad…” I say.
“The doctor? Why?”
I sit for a minute.
“Oh hello baby. You are a good girl. Very good girl. I am talking to your sister” I hear my dog panting through the phone and my dad playing with her. I want to laugh, but I can’t. “Go ahead Shaz. Why’d you go to the doctor?”
My eyes well up. “I’ve been having chest pains dad.”
“Oh…” he says. “Ok and? What did the doctor say?” my dad is surprisingly calm about this.
I tell him the whole story.
“Hm. Well let’s wait until all the results come back right. We can’t worry ourselves more that we already are about this. And for the love of God Shaz, will you take it easy on yourself and RELAX this weekend?”
I smile. “Yea dad”.
“Drive carefully. Text me when you get home”
I hang up. Time for my mother.
Oh she isn’t having it. “You had this for weeks and you didn’t tell us??”
Well then, she and my dad must have switched places. She is usually the calm one and he usually panics.
“Shaz. You wanna come home? Take FMLA leave and come home” she says.
I roll my eyes. “Tell this to my boss”. She sighs. “It’s not funny Shaz. It’s serious”.
Yea I know. I go and pick up my meds.
“Is this your first time taking this medication?” the pharmacist asks.
I nod. “Ok. Take this once a day, same time every day. You may have side effects like dizziness, but do not stop taking them” she says.
I drive home. This sucks.
When I get home all my friends I updated about this are blowing up my phone. I have to nap, I only slept 3 hours the night before due to my chest pain.
As I am closing my eyes, I see a text come in from Prince Player. I just know it isn’t good.
Don’t do it.
Don’t do it.
Don’t do it.
I grab my phone. Oh my lord it is a long message…
My iWatch notifies me my heart rate is too high. I shouldn’t.
I skim the text.
“I wasn’t looking to get back with you I just…”
“I don’t know what to do”
Oh no. Over the last month I really tried to show him how much he means to me and how I wasn’t giving up…but if he is, what was the point? Part of loving him, is letting him go if he wants to be gone.
I text back. I tell him I’m good whichever way he goes.
I can’t compete with his other priorities in his life anymore. I tried.
My heart can’t do it anymore 😦
He doesn’t respond. In the evening I watch Shark Tank and go to bed.
I have a dream that one of “Prince Players” exes is texting him. And when it comes to choosing between us, he chooses her. And then he calls me. I am hearing it ringing and ringing and ringing…
When I wake up and realize it was just a dream and in my real waking life my doctor is calling me.
“Hello?” I say half asleep.
“Shaz. It’s doctor. Your blood results came back. They are good. No enzymes or infections” he says.
Well hey that is great.
“Obviously. We need to figure out what’s going on. Rule out other stuff before we conclude that it’s stress. In the meantime take your medication, I will see you in one week to rerun the EKG and order some more tests. No stress, please” he says.
“How are you feeling on the medication? Any side effects?” he asks.
“No I’m just really tired” I say.
“That will happen unfortunately. Since the medication slows down your heart rate, it happens. I will keep checking in”.
When we hang up, I think about the dream I just had. I remember telling “Prince Player” about one of my other anxiety dreams a few months ago and he said something cute like, “well thank goodness dreams don’t come true” then.
I go back to sleep. The next time I wake up is when my brother calls.
“How’s your heart?” he asks sadly.
Sigh. Didn’t he hear. My heart is broken.
to be continued
P.S- If you haven’t watched the new documentary “Dancing With the Devil” by my favorite artist, I highly recommend ❤