I apologize in advance for the long post, but to anybody who presses on through to the end, I thank you.
Some per-requisites before we begin: I'm 27, do not smoke, did not drink (at the time when it started, I've had a handful of beers since then), and have no history of anxiety, diabetes, cancer, etc., in my history nor my family's history. Ok, now on with the show...
My story begins January 25th of this year (2013) at the end of my day at the office when I begin to experience some chest pain. I've never felt anything like it and it continued on well into the evening, easily lasting for 5-6 hours. At first I thought I just pulled something, maybe moved or twisted wrong and the pain would subside over time. But the discomfort continued on, and it was in the location of the heart, so my next line of thought was "heart attack". This idea plagued me for a few weeks when it eventually came to a head and I had a full blown panic attack at four in the morning. I thought I was going to die (as we all do) and I really had no idea what was going on. My wife took me to the ER where the hooked me up to an EKG and showed that all vitals were normal, except my heart rate was at 90bpm. I told them of the chest pain, they took an x-ray (said it looked normal), then gave me some pain meds (can't remember exactly what, but it wasn't effective). They sent me home with a prescription for Vicodin and a z-pak. I took both, but to no effect. I battled with the on again/off again pain for a few weeks before deciding to set up a doctor's appointment. I was reluctant to go to the doctor's at the time because since I'm sick so rarely, I don't have a PCP and I don't really know how doctors and the medical field work. I just picked a doctor through my insurance and went. I told him of my symptoms and he immediately wrote me off as having anxiety (although I had no prior history with anxiety and, at the time, I only had the one attack). He prescribed me xanax and said to take them when I feel like one was coming on, even though at the time I had no idea when one was "coming on" or how I could tell the difference from an attack or just feeling like crap. Mind you, during all this I was constantly having chest discomfort and not a moment went by where I wasn't thinking, "Did my heart skip a beat? Do I have heart disease? Am I going to die right now?". And I truly, honestly mean that. Every few minutes or so throughout the day, one of those 3 ideas would pop into my head. Also, I must note, during this time I thought I had an aortic aneurysm, or the beginning of one. This idea kept me up most nights. Oh, and one last thing, during this doctor visit, I had a ton of tests done on me. Blood, urine sample, thyroids, AIDS, the whole 9. All came back perfect, except I was a touch low in vitamin D. I started taking at supplement, felt exactly the same afterwards.
So, while all this was going on, I continued to attempt to live my life as normal, such as exercising, to try and test to see if something was really effecting my heart. Working out, being put in stressful situations such as work related issues, didn't bother me in the slightest. I would generally get the uneasy feeling, heart beating out of my chest, feeling flushed, "about to die" rain cloud over your head, when absolutely nothing was happening. Like, watching TV, or laying in bed, or the dreaded "falling asleep" thing that we have to do every night. For a while there it was not going good.
After about a month or so of this, I rescheduled with my doctor and told him, "Look, this isn't working out. I take the xanax and I think it works, but I don't know when to take it or why. I know you said not to take this everyday, but I feel like crap everyday. I'm dead set that it's my heart. I want to see a specialist and get a CT" He was very passionate against both requests, but after some pleading he finally got me the cardiologist referral and the CT scan. The cardiologist was pretty useless as well, saying that he sees nothing wrong with me (yeah, well of course, I'm in my 20's with no history of medical conditions, anybody could look at me and go, "yep, fit as a fiddle"), but he was at least kind and courteous and willing to listen, so his only advice was to take Prilosec OTC for a week and see if the discomfort goes away. Of course, it didn't, but we could at least rule out heart burn, GERD, and the like.
The cardiologist and I scheduled a followup visit, but during that time between the first and second meeting, I got my chance to get my CT scan (with contrast). I got the scan, then I had to wait the longest week in my life. The day the test results came in I also had the worst panic attack of my life. I was at work and it just came out of nowhere. Heart beating, flushed, dizzy, confused, "impending doom", everything. I went to the bathroom, sat on the stall, and waited for death. I had this terrible ripping sensation in my chest and it filled up with lava and I thought, "this is it, this is where the aorta is going to tear and I'm going to bleed out internally in a public bathroom with my pants around my ankles and a look of terror in my eyes. Right when I was about to say "Goodbye cruel world", I received an email from my wife telling me that the CT results were back and that I was perfect. No worries. I immediately started to come down from my anxiety trip and after another 20 minute or so, I could leave the stall and attempt to walk straight. I have to put in a side note that my building doesn't allow me to have cell phone service. To this day, I still don't know how her email got though, but it couldn't have been a better time. I was about to go into self induced cardiac arrest.
We're in the summer now, although I'm not sure which month, but I'm now going back to my doctor for a third time and asking for suggestions on what to do next. He gives me the same speech, it's anxiety, here take this xanax and some lexipro. Take the lexipro everybody and I'll see you in a month. For people who's never experienced Lexipro...it's a strong drug. the very first day I took it I was nauseous. and I was nauseous for the next month. I don't mean off/on, I mean from the hour after I took the first pill until a day after I quick, I was numb and felt like i could puke at any time. It also drives down your libido to a non-existent level.
After the month of lexipro and worthless doctor visits, I decided to go it alone and handle this by myself. Side note, if you ever ween yourself off of lexipro or I guess any other mood controlling drugs, expect to have phenomenally vivid dreams. I woke up one night punching the air because I thought there was somebody in my room. Anyway, it worked for a bit, but I was still getting extreme chest discomfort and I would every now and then rely on a xanax to get through. I also started to hop on the internet again (damn you, WebMD) and found my new fix: bone cancer. I started to consider that I had bone cancer and that I was looking at the wrong place (the heart) all along. This led me into another anxiety induced downward spiral.
And this is where I stand now. I've just now dug myself out of the "you have bone cancer" grave, but I still have attacks, albeit few and far between. The last one I had was about a half hour ago, with absolutely no lead up to the attack. I was sitting here at work reading an article and then, BOOM, uh-oh, something isn't right. I just felt like my heart was going to give out, although it wasn't beating hard. I wasn't flushed, but I felt uneasy and shaky. I wasn't pale and I wasn't on the verge of passing out, so all good signs, but what triggered it in the first place? I've never had it happen like this before. This is what led me to this forum and to finally post to a community who (hopefully) have an inkling of an idea of what I've been going through. I know you're not the be all/end all of medical advice, but where should I go with this? I'm on my last pill of xanax, to which I'm going to ask my doctor for refill, but am I just masking a greater situation? I'm concerned that, and I've felt like this from the very beginning, that the anxiety is masking a much greater problem, such as bone cancer, or really any number of life threatening diseases that can creep up on a person unbeknownst to them. I've gone through 3 doctors now all exclaiming that I have anxiety, but with no real answer or fix to the symptoms. They constantly push me away from more intervening tests, like stress tests, bone scans, or MRI's, but should I push for those regardless? I guess I should because insurance will cover it all, but is it a waste? Not only on the testers part, but mine as well. The ER visit hit me with a surprise $600 bill, I'm not trying to fork over that kind of money again for what has been, up until this point, nothing. Absolutely nothing.
If it is indeed "just" anxiety, what can I do to slow it and eventually stop it? I know that's a weighted question and, really, it's the reason we're all here, but 9 months ago I never had a stressful day in my life. And now, I can't go a day without worrying about my own mortality.
Any and all help will be greatly appreciated. Actually, just knowing somebody has read this will give me a piece of mind.