Let me preface this by saying as clearly as I can that I know Groupthink is not an appropriate place for real medical advice. I guess I just want some opinions about what you guys would do in this situation, and if I'm lucky enough to get input from a medical professional that's a bonus. Also, LONG.
So most of you know I had a total knee replacement on February 6. Shortly after I came home, I started having a weird symptom that I could only describe as "chest pain," even though that wasn't really 100% accurate. It was a pain/pressure that started way up high in the chest near my throat, and traveled up the throat, into my jaw and my head. Prior to the surgery, I have a chemical stress test, and the medicine they gave me to stress my heart caused EXACTLY the same sensation. It's pretty horrible (google chemical stress test and see what people say about it) but after the stress test is over they give you an IV med that counteracts the original med, and you feel better in about 10-15 minutes.
Well, I had this very bizarre sensation periodically, something I'd never experienced before the stress test, but there was absolutely NO rational explanation for why I'd be feeling that way at this point. The home care nurse and my sister, an RN, both thought it was possibly a sign of overexertion, but my BP and heart rate were fine. One of the biggest risks after knee replacement is blood clots, but the nurses felt good pulses in my feet and calves and there was no pain in the calves. So I just sat and breathed through these episodes and went about my business.
Last weekend, 3 ½ weeks post op, I had the chest pain sensation again but it was accompanied by shortness of breath and light headedness. I really thought I was going to pass out. I decided it was time to go to the ER. Long story short-ish, they diagnosed me with a pulmonary embolism. The tests weren't totally definitive, but they were strongly indicative of a PE, and it's a common complication. The cardiac tests were all completely clear. My heart is strong and healthy as can be. They put me on blood thinners and sent me home Monday.
I think you can guess where this is heading… I started having the chest/neck/jaw pressure/pain again today. What. The. Fuck, people?? I'm NOT going back to the ER. At this point, I'm pretty sure that the symptoms were completely unrelated to a clot, and it was just a coincidence that I had one. But who can I talk to about this funky symptom?? If I tell my sister or even my family doctor they're just going to pressure me to go to the ER again, and there are about a million reasons I don't want to do that.
What would you do? Any suggestions?
ETA: spoke to the doc who treated me in the hospital (my regular doctor's partner) and he feels comfortable letting me wait a bit and call again if anything gets worse or new symptoms crop up. He also said that my newest idea about the pain is a possibility; earlier today I had the worst "sour burp" of my life. That's what my mom called a burp that brings up bile instead of air. I remembered that I had a really horrible one in the ER too. I take prilosec every day so heartburn and reflux aren't usually a problem, but now I'm wondering if this pain is a form of reflux. I'm going to talk to my primary about that when I see her next week.
Thanks for your concern everyone! I'm sorry I posted and then didn't follow anyone's advice. :(