Earlier Symptoms and Misdiagnosis, Part 2

continuation of topic from previous post

The first two symptoms were covered as I described how I was misdiagnosed as having asthma.

  • Crackling sound in the chest (a sign of fluid buildup)**, heart murmur, or other abnormal sounds
  • Shortness of breath during exercise, while lying down or having been asleep for awhile.**

My experience with some of the remaining symptoms (bold and ** are those I experienced).

  • Swelling of feet and ankles (in adults) **
  • Reduced cardiovascular capacity **.
  • Irregular or rapid pulse**
  • Chest pain or pressure (more likely when you exercise)
  •   Cough
  • Fatigue, weakness, faintness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swollen lower legs.  Despite doing calf raises, my calves never developed any definition.  They have looked big ever since I can remember.  I figured that was just the way they were made. 

 For many years, sitting down for long periods of time often caused my legs to feel heavy and uncomfortable, despite my regular exercise.  I had visited my family doctor last year to make sure there was no circulation problem.  Apparently they were not swollen at the time or he did not pick up on it.  I am finding a new family doctor.

 Fluid retention never crossed my mind.  I did not consider that my legs were actually swollen.  My heart was (is?) not strong enough to push all  the blood up away from my lower extremities.  The diuretics Lasix  (furosemide) and spironolactone are among my medications, and I can now see the difference in how my lower legs should have looked.

  •  Reduced cardiovascular capacity.

As I have mentioned previously, I have been exercising for 5-6 days a week,  twice a day for 20-35 minutes each session, for 6 years.   Treadmill,  elliptical, bike, jumping jacks and other “boot camp” type moves, Zumba and other dance, swimming, yoga.  I had taken daily walks before that and done just enough squats and weight training to deal with my legs feeling uncomfortable from sitting down on my desk job.  I was never able to build the kind of endurance that would enable me to run for any length of time, but I had gotten to a point in the first year that I could run on a treadmill for 2 minutes at 5.5 to 6 miles per hour.  I was jogging at intervals on my walks with my two black labs.  I could take 3 flights of stairs at work and not be out of breath.

 At some point, possibly 3 years ago, I found that I could not endure running or jogging or high cardio.  On a treadmill, 4.2 mph was my normal speed at an incline of 3.  I went to my family doctor, as it did not make sense to me for my cardiovascular ability to be reduced.  I did have allergies and sinus inflammation that make it more difficult to move air through my nasal passages.  Perhaps there was now more inflammation or another polyp.  His thinking was along the same lines, so he sent me to an ENT.

 The ENT listened to my heart, as my family doctor had done, and it sounded good.  My blood pressure was good.  He concluded that I had a small nose, small nasal passages, and that I should try using Breathe Right strips.  As a last resort, if I truly wanted to, I could have a surgery that would enlarge the passages.   I tried the Breathe Right strips, and I consistently sweated them off.  Oh well, I guess I will just have to accept it.

 My cardiovascular capacity evened out for awhile. 

In early 2012, hip and knee pain led to a diagnosis of osteoarthritis in those joints.  Physical therapy, a farewell to jumping jacks and other high impact exercise, and 500 mg Naproxen relieved my pain.  I began using a stationary bike, and swimming occasionally, to include no-impact exercise in my routine.   

 In April 2013, it was determined that my right hip needed to be replaced, and I had the surgery* on July 22 of that year.  When I tried the treadmill 3 weeks later, I could only go 3.5 mph.  I thought it was due to not pushing myself as hard for awhile due to my recovery.  I did not yet have the other symptoms that led to a misdiagnosis of asthma, which I covered in my previous post.

 *Regarding hip replacement – I had an anterior incision performed by a doctor who is on the top 100 in the U.S.  His name is Dr. John Clohisy, for Washington University Physicians, St. Louis MO.  Often people have a posterior incision that requires a longer, more difficult recovery.

  •  Lastly, irregular or rapid heartbeat is something I’ve experienced for many years. I have had instances some years ago but not in the last couple years when I lied down at night and could not sleep for the awareness of my heartbeat. Anxiety from a day of work and chores at home?  Or was it the beginning of my heart condition?  I had one day at work when my heart was beating unusually quickly nearly all day.  I had read that heart palpitations were not uncommon during the approach of menopause, so I did not worry about it too much.  Now I wonder.

 I think back about all these little signs.  Is there something I could have done to push concerns with my doctor?  I don’t know.  They each came on separately over time. 

 One thing I never experienced was persistent fatigue or sleepiness.  I was accustomed to sleeping 6 hours a night, so I could rise early and get in my exercise and the dogs’ walk.  Sometime before my diagnosis, I was falling slightly short of those 6 hours due to getting to bed 10 minutes or so later than usual.  Most days I was fine.

 I do wonder about my use of 5-Hour Energy. I kept a bottle handy in case I really needed it, which recently was twice a week.  Before that, maybe once a week, if that. When I told one cardiologist that I drank a half-bottle occasionally, he frowned quite a bit and told me to never take it again. 

 In my next post I plan to share information I have gathered about sodium. 


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