Friday, October 29, 2010

A Scare - But Not for Halloween

Last weekend, I had what I am going to call - for dramatic purposes - an "attack." I was on the Light Rail, heading to M&T Bank Stadium to take in a Ravens game with my dad, when I felt a tightening in the center of my chest. The discomfort (can't really call it "pain") quickly radiated up my neck and into my jaw.

I thought, "is this what a heart attack feels like?"

I had experienced this same sensation two or three times in the past and I dismissed it as indigestion. I usually have some antacids on hand and one or two of them takes care of the problem. But this time, the word "angina" popped into my head.

Angina is bad. It can mean a heart attack is imminent. So sayeth the health nerds on Teh Innernets. So I got myself checked out. After donating many vials of blood to the cause and enduring multiple EKGs and chest x-rays, I got the verdict.

My heart is a gorgeous specimen that gave the doctor no concerns. (Whew!) What I experienced was probably Esophageal Spasms, which feel a lot like angina. But isn't. I was told to continue taking antacids, but if the spasms became more frequent, I could start taking Prilosec or similar.

And I was given a list of foods to avoid:

sodas that contain caffeine
chocolate and peppermint
spicy foods like pizza
acid foods like oranges or tomatoes
fried and fatty foods

Oh, you're kidding me, doc. Killing me, too. If I avoided everything on the list, I'd be reduced to eating boiled chicken breasts with a plain baked potato and washing them down with Sprite.

And you know that is not going to happen.

While I have no problem with cutting caffeinated beverages from my diet (I barely drink soda at all and switched to decaf coffee a few years back), I cannot give up chocolate. Or pizza, citrus, or tomatoes. "Fried and fatty" is one of my major food groups, and while I will cut back, I will not remove it from my diet. As for alcohol - let's just say that sometimes it's...necessary.

I mean, if I'm have to avoid my favorite foods, I may as well have a heart condition. But I don't.