Sleep eludes me a lot these days. For the past 10 years or so, the three o’clock hour is a time in which I typically awaken. Sometimes I go back to sleep, and sometimes I don’t. There are nights that I can’t shut my brain down enough to get to sleep. Those are the nights that I put on meditation music, practice my deep breathing, and try to relax my brain. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
My Fitbit Flex tracks my sleep efficiency. The red lines are times I am awake and for how long. Last night was a particularly difficult sleep night. Or rather, lack thereof. On average, I am only just “restless” about 18 times during the night. Most often, I don’t even know it, but it sure explains why I wake up mornings feeling like I haven’t slept in a month. I would bet good money it’s the restless legs. My legs jerk and lurch about quite a bit when I sleep, sometimes in rhythmic fashion. There was a time when my arms did the same thing. Lisa used to describe the arm movement as a sort of “twitching” in a rhythmic fashion. Of course, not only did it disturb my sleep, it disturbed hers as well.
So, what kept me up most of the night last night? That goddamn chest pain that radiates to my back. Often when it comes on, if I get up and walk around a little bit, it seems to settle down, especially when the walking takes me to the medicine cabinet for a Pepcid Complete. I don’t know if it’s the Pepcid or the walking that helps, but I do both. Last night, like so many times recently, this pain wasn’t having anything to do with Pepcid, walking, laying down, sitting up, or anything. It wasn’t going to be denied. So, I suffered. I paced. I tried to sleep. I woke up this morning laying crosswise on the bed, across the pillows. I was quite comfortable but exhausted.
The last time it was this bad, I asked Lisa to take me to the hospital. They did EKGs, ECGs, Xrays, blood work, MRIs, and a treadmill stress test. My heart checked out fine.
I was diagnosed a long time ago with costochondritis, which is an inflammation of the muscle or cartilage where it meets the bone. The problem is, costochondritis pain can be duplicated by pressing on the breast bone on the left side. I read nothing at all about costochondritis pain radiating to the back, between the shoulder blades.
This intense, excruciating pain is in my chest and between my shoulder blades at the same time. I had similar pain when my gall bladder crapped out. I don’t have a gall bladder, so it can’t be that. But, if I had gallstones (which are hardened bile) and the gall bladder was removed, where does that cholesterol go? Into the common bile duct? Into the pancreas? My money is on the pancreas.
I’m going to insist at the next doctor’s visit that we address this pain and have the pancreas tested.