The Yoga Teacher's Heart Attack
Chapter 2: Express Lane Etiquette?
I'm not going to lie, the post-op vasovagal incident troubled me deeply. I wasn't sure where to start in terms of following up with a doctor. I consoled myself with Dr. Sinus's advice: if there's a second event, then find a cardiologist.
And then with the perfect timing reserved only for Olympic ice skaters and Lifetime movies, I do experience a second blacking out-ish event.
Ironically, I’m driving my girls to the doctor. I'm in the express lane on a nice sunny day. Then out of nowhere, there's chest tightness and I'm urpy and clammy. And panicked. I can't just pull over in the middle of the highway with my girls in the car. Can I?
My last cogent thought was to get the heck out of the express lane, because express lane people can be real jerks to sensible moms driving 67 mph. Express lane drivers will certainly not pull over to help.
No doubt aided by a team of guardian angels, I manage to slide over to the far right lane. My vision is just white. Almost like someone turned my eyes off. Thankfully, there’s one small corner of vision that doesn’t go white, so I count the white lane stripey guys.
I’m remember feeling thankful that I am heading north towards the Better Hospital, where I birthed the twins. If I do lose consciousness, the last thing I’d want is for the paramedics to take me to Closest Hospital; it is notoriously subpar.
(How subpar? So bad that a yoga student of mine, who was a labor and delivery nurse, quipped “I’d rather give birth in the parking lot of a 7-11 than step one foot into Closest Hospital.”)
By the good fortune of God and Ganesh, my vision returns as quickly as it left. (I timed the trip later and believe my eyes were ‘turned off’ for a little over two minutes.)
I nearly wept when I found this on the American Heart Association website.
Were these bozos waiting for me at Closest Hospital? Maybe ...
This ad is 100 years old ... yet somehow, many doctors are quick to tell us gals that our problems are all simply in our dainty little heads.
Did I tell anyone about the lights out highway experience? Why, no. I did not.
Even in the best of times, I tend to overthink things. In this case, I am frozen on the idea of selecting which doctor to see. Sinus guy again? I know he said cardiologist, but I am scheduled to have heart problems. Neurologist, maybe?
Coupled with my anxiety is that I have had a long, long history of being misdiagnosed and, unfortunately, I tend to let that color medical decisions big and small.
The more recent example of delayed diagnosis started in August of 2006. I was at a hot yoga teacher training, hiding out in the back row. I woke up one morning with crazy pelvic pain, bloating and a fullness in the lady bits.
I went to *eight* ob-gyns who got it all wrong. The first two doctors said there was nothing physical wrong, clearly I was having some anxiety that presented with bloating and pelvic pain.
Doctors three, four and five were no use. Doctor number six insisted I get a colonoscopy because he was convinced I had mistaken the lady bit pain for a colon issue.
Doctor number seven gets honorable mention for saying, I kid you not, “It is possible that your vagina has come down with a transient illness, like a flu bug.”
I’m a little hard of hearing, so I asked for clarification. “Um, I sorry, did you say that my vagina has the flu?”
“Ah, yes. That is correct. Your vagina has come down with the flu. Rest and fluids and this should resolve on its own."
I was proud of myself for setting boundaries with ob-gyn number 8. I said "look, I’m not taking my clothes off. I will tell you about my pain and symptoms and then, without my feet in stirrups, you and I will discuss possible causes of pain.”
Doctor number eight actually had a glass, lighted speculum (these should be mandatory in all medical settings) and she was able to quickly see that my cervix had been pushed all the way down the vaginal foyer. Because ... ? of internal bleeding. Bleeding from: endometriosis.
Interesting to note that seven ob-gyns never once mentioned endometriosis as a possibility.
Which is weird ... because I had had a series of ruptured ovarian cysts, which is often a cause and/or symptom of endo.
I nearly had to beg doctor #8 to perform surgery.
A decade with Grey's Anatomy taught me that surgeons are considered the wild cowboys of the medical field. But not doctor #8. We were at a bit of an impasse when she told me she was a fan of hot yoga. Shazam!
Standing in her office, I went through the yoga poses that exacerbated my pain and she took detailed notes.
Post-op, doctor #8 she thanked me for being so descriptive. She said that I had had a particularly entrenched case of endometriosis that had crawled up to my rib cage.
(And don't even get me started on the number of ob-gyns who wouldn't perform a tubal ligation when I was in my twenties because, again, I was clearly depressed and not thinking clearly. And after I was married, and still wanted a tubal, one doctor said she'd perform the surgery only after my husband and I did one year of marriage counseling and he gave his written consent. But that's another story .... )