A near heart attack!

On the 20th of February, 2006, I woke up at 4:45 AM with an agonizing pain in my chest, or to be more precise, the upper left area of my chest. I couldn’t even breathe properly, it was hard to even move my body, and I panicked thinking that I was having a heart attack. Smitha got me some hot coffee, and though it was a struggle to drink it, I somehow managed to gulp it in, though it didn’t really help at all. I googled for heart attack symptoms, and from what information I got, I was more convinced that this was a heart attack. My left shoulder was also beginning to ache, and this was another symptom for a subsequent heart attack or cardiac arrest. I thought I’d ask on the Code Project and started a thread on this, and asked people if they thought I was having a slow heart attack, and most people replied saying that it sounded serious, and that I should go to a hospital as early as possible.

By then, it was about 7 AM, and the pain wasn’t stopping. I suddenly realized that, I might only have a couple of hours more to live, and then all of a sudden, I started worrying about Smitha. If I was going to die that day, I began to ponder over how she would manage. I started to get her to memorize our bank pin numbers and passwords, as I wanted to make sure she’d be able to access enough money to get back to India on her own. Or at least live on her own for a while in Canada. I also thought we should go to work, so that if I did die of a heart attack, someone else would be there to help, rather than stay at home with just her, and she didn’t even have a Canadian driver’s license. As to why I didn’t go to a doctor, we don’t have health coverage yet in Canada, it only starts next month, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to afford medical help. I was also worried that if I died that day, and wasted money by paying the doctor (or the hospital), that’d be even lesser money for Smitha to go back to India. I also started regretting not taking care of my diet, and eating all sorts of junk food, and not bothering to eat well when I consumed alcohol. I was disgusted with myself for not even spending an hour at the gym after taking membership, and spending close to a 100 bucks on workout clothes and a gym bag.

Right now, looking back at my actions and thought processes, it seems amazingly hilarious, but it wasn’t remotely funny at that time. There I was, nearly sure I was going to die, and worried to death about Smitha. There were moments when I wished I could see my family (in India) one last time, or at least speak with them, but I was too weak to even make a phone call. Anyway we drove to work, and it was a struggle as I had to strain myself to the maximum to keep myself from falling on the steering wheel. We reached work and Chris spoke with me about this, and asked me if it hurt more if I expanded my chest, and I tried that and it sure did hurt more. He smiled and said that I probably sprained a muscle there, and that he’s had that numerous times before. That made me feel a lot better, and over the day the pain did decrease a little, though it kept at a throbbing pace all the time, which was mighty worrying.

On our way home from work, I had my Blood Pressure taken, and it was normal. I then called a friend of mine (from Toronto) who was a Doctor in India (though she cannot practice in Canada until she gets the Canadian medical degree too), and after listening to my symptoms, she laughed and said it was only a chest muscle spasm. Apparently, I was overworking and putting too much strain on my body (I work on a computer 80-90 hours a week, counting time at home as well as at work), and this apparently affected my digestion, resulted in acidity, and started causing irritation to the chest regions, and thereby resulting in a muscle spasm – apparently muscles enjoy doing this spasm thing when they are irritated. In fact, Deepa (my Doctor friend) told me that this is pretty common, and is kind of similar to an anxiety attack, except I didn’t really have an anxiety attack. She asked me to cut down on the spicy food, and to take some anti-acidity tablets, which I did. It’s now 10 days later, and since Sunday, I’ve completely recovered from the chest pain.

I know this sounds ridiculous, like one of those things that Johnny Bravo or Daffy Duck would end up doing, but I am posting this here for posterity so that I’ll be more careful about my health and diet in future. The worst part of thinking you are going to die is worrying about how everyone who loves you will take it. Alright, that’s it, I am still alive, healthy, happy, writing, coding, and blogging, and don’t any of you dare poke fun at me over this, the next time we meet!


34 thoughts on “A near heart attack!

  1. Glad you’re ok. Anyway I was somewhat shocked about your reaction. Why can’t you have free medical assistance in Canada? Was really impossible to see a doctor? Since you didn’t worry about keep the “system” working (going to gym, better food), all you can do is to squash bugs – and only a doctor can do this.
    I’m married too and was impressed about your reaction to make sure everything would gonna be ok with you wife. Man, next time go see a doctor. No matter how much money you would leave for Smitha in case of a disaster, she sure would pay anything to see you alive and well. Take care.

  2. Shocked by seeing the headline..Take care pa..

    Since you will be in the middle of 25 to 30 ages I was wondered to see the heart attack..! I guess you should regularly do some exercise such as walkin jagging etc…atleast thrice a week ..

    I saw your article in the codeproject and saw your blog..
    Saravana Vijayan

  3. Hey Nish, stick around for a while, will you?

    Would miss ya + your articles / opinions.

    I guess you just burned out a little bit. Want to start a competition, how burns out first?
    I will beat ya πŸ™‚

    Seriously, stay healthy. If considering going to a gym, do cardio, since your brain is your capital, hence performancewise, you are oxygen-bound. Hmm I would also check for another doctors’ opinion, because it may also be the stomach .. “irritable bowel / too much acid”

  4. Hey Nish, I think you shocked everbody reading your blog!

    I suggest going to the gym. I’m spending 4 Days a week in the gym working out my body πŸ˜‰

  5. Very interesting to read your account. Anyone can be terrified with such an experience!
    Your blog looks great. Why can’t you join the kerala blog roll, if you haven’t joined yet?
    Tell your friends too.
    Take care!

  6. Nish, good to know you are Ok..
    Just that I had the exact symptom last month and diagnosed to be some muscle sprain.. the pain was stabbing, when taking a deep breath, and I thought (and searched the web) it was pleurisy (chest infection)… But x rays revealed nothing.. and the doctor diagnosed as due to acidity. But from that day, i decided not to look into web for diagnosis.. A good doctor should always be the first person to meet.

  7. Nish,

    Happy to know that you are okay..

    The thing concerned me is that you are living in Canada without any Medical Insurance..I thought in
    Canada, everyone has Free Medical converage(I may be wrong – Is that avaialbe only for the
    Canadian citizens?).

    I can’t imagine your employer is not giving you any medical coverage as part of your
    compensation..Here in US I can’t think of living without Medical Insurance.

    Anyway happy to know that you are okay and tell your employer to give you medical coverage ASAP.


  8. Hi Nish, So you perceived the acidity as cardiac arrest. You are so funny. Let me tell you
    a litlle true story. Listen !!! One day a very clever person went to the doctor with the same
    complaints you have. Doctor replied the clever man that he is fell in conditional love but
    this reply draws wrinkles on the forehead of clever man. The man again complained the problem
    of the stomach problem but this time doctor say Your age is more than 40 year. The man was
    so surprized what is going on with him and consulted agian with doctor. This time doctor
    explained the clever man but now miserable that love and stomach ulcer is the same in nature.
    For a man below than age 40, if having the simptoms you complained its love but for him who
    above age 40 itz stomach ulcer.
    Nish i suggest you go to the same doctor. Anyway you are so nice, RAM will take care of you,
    you are not going to die soon, still you have to work alot for the betterment of this world.

    Best Wishes
    Aamir Parry

  9. Hi Nish,
    Glad to know that you are okay..

    I had the exact symptom, and u know that was only the gastric problem and the doctors
    prescribed to hav a chest Xray, ECG and all.

    Actually I am fresher in .Net Technologies and I just completed my VB.NET Course from NIIT.
    I m looking for a project now. Can u help me out if u have some time, please. I will be very
    thankful to you.

    my email is shishank_30@yahoo.co.in

    Take Care and hav a nice day.
    Shishank Bhatnagar (Gurgaon, INDIA)

  10. Hi Nish,

    Hope u will b fine there , But ur experience gave us a message to be kept in mind .
    That our body is precious and it also needs some relaxation .Just do some yoga or streching exercises
    after every 2-3 hours of ur work .

    bye and Gud Day ,
    sachin s

  11. hi nish,

    “Bad grass don’t die easy” so they say. You’re an exception.

    You’re a lot of help to people you don’t know (yet?), including me. Put it another way: “you’re helping lot of people away from that ‘acid'”. Stress, you know. It doesn’t feel good you being down with it. Take it easy, man! Hope you’re not doing:


  12. Wow Nishboy I didnt realise it was so serious until I read it now. I mean you musta been so shocked and worried! And Chechi!! Wow she musta been so upset! You shoulda somehow called Ma Nish! I mean
    from 4:45 in the morning, you’ve been suffering! Amma would have asked Mony Aunty or someone and somehow told ya what it is! Gee! :-(((

  13. Happy to hear that you are Ok. Still health is big issue in IT. One of our collegues
    ( an MS – MVP) passed away due to cardiac arrest at around 2 am in the midnight, while in sleep. He use
    to work around 12 hrs on weekdays..
    So this is tricky …
    Wishing you the best.

  14. You got a new life. Congratulations!

    It’s pathetic to be in the west without quality healthcare at an affordable cost.
    You thought you were going to die, and you were worried to death about spending all your
    money seeing a doc. I hope the doctors see this and feel ashamed at the business they have made
    of this supposedly noble profession.

  15. You seriously have scared me now. I also work close to 80-90 hours a week on the computer and sometimes even more. There have been days when I had to work 36 Hours at stretch to finish projects.

    After reading this, I am sure going to cut down on my hours.

  16. I have the same excitable muscle. I’ve been to the doctor a couple of times, convinced my heart is giving out. Each time he says “no, it’s just a muscle spasm”. I generally get it when I start exercising after a long break.

  17. I know this is too late for this commment, but me too wanted to tell you how glad I am to see
    that you are well. Take care of yourself and help your wife to get more familiar and friendly
    with the country she is leaving in.

  18. This was initially shocking, very much so. I’m very relieved there was a happy ending:))!! I look forward to your new book being published, very much.
    I see you moved from Canada…yes, you will miss the snow…and everything else. What a beautiful country Canada is:)

  19. Hi Nish,

    Had a chance to go thru ur article….. could relate very well with rakesh’s death..
    its exactly an year…. Happy to c that lot have taken care interest in health after ur

  20. Like the blog, come and have a look at mine if you like – concentrates on whether it’s time to just ban tobacco outright, or is Government and The Corporate World simply making too much money from it?

  21. Hi
    My experience was the reverse of yours: I though I had indigestion but I was having a heart attack!
    If I had waited like you did I would be dead now.
    You can never be too careful. I f you have chest pain you must get medical attention immediately.

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