Five times in 6 years I went to hospital emergency rooms with significant chest pain. Its locus was the second to lowest rib just to the left of the breastbone. The pain was intense enough that it affected my breathing and sent my heart rate and blood pressure abnormally high. Each time I was given an EKG and had my enzyme levels checked, and when no heart issues manifested themselves I was sent home. On my last visit, the doctor suggested that I might wish to consult with a psychiatrist saying that either I was experiencing high stress or panic attacks or perhaps my problems were psychosomatic.
The cause of the pain was finally diagnosed by Veterans Administration doctors as bone tumors (lesions) in the ribs resulting from Stage II Multiple Myeloma. A review of the various chest xrays taken during my hospital visits demonstrated that the largest tumor had been there for quite some time.
I also found that the Myeloma was responsible for occasional lower back and hip pain as well, and medical visits about those symptoms were always written off to muscle strain.
I now have bone damage to my spine, ribs, hips and skull resulting from the disease progression. I am due to begin radiation and chemo in a few weeks. Multiple Myeloma is a malignancy of the blood, particularly in the bone marrow. It also destroys the immune system in ways similar to AIDS. There is no cure for Multiple Myeloma, however its advance can be slowed by Bone Marrow Transplant if exact siblings are available as donors. BMT is possible with a "close match" from the national donor pool, however the survivability of close-match BMT is poor in contrast to exact-match. The disease's advance can also be slowed through radiation to reduce bone degredation and chemo to control the toxic proteins and other immune system problems.
The point here is that we all need to remember that emergency departments run according to the policy of stabilize and release; there is no obligation on their part to ascertain the source of your medical issue if it is not immediately life-threatening. This is the flaw I was caught in. If you have a chronic issue that takes you to the hospital and the staff tells you that you're good to go home, follow up! Most doctors will recommend this as a matter of policy. DO IT! Many of the diseases that plague us hide just below the surface and may not present many symptoms.
ALWAYS manage your own health. Never depend on your medical provider to do your thinking for you. That's the way to find you're too late. For more info on my experiences, please visit "Thoughts of a Multiple Myeloma victim" at www.deludia.com.
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