Heart Attacks, Death, and Stress- How I Overcame

As I consider myself a pretty private individual this is very difficult opening up my personal life with patients. This email may offend some of you and I want to apologize up front if that is the case. I feel it necessary however to explain why I haven’t been in the office much lately. The last month has been constant stress, by far the most difficult time in my life. On Friday January 23rd, I received a call from my mom that my dad was in grave condition. She made it clear that it would be a good idea for me to travel home to MN, and visit him at the VA. I was on the next available flight that Friday morning with no idea what the weekend had in store. I had just three days to spend with my father. I knew as I boarded the plane back to Nashville that it would be the last time I would see him alive. Sure enough the next day I got the call that I was dreading, he had passed.

The death of a parent is a loss obviously very difficult in and of itself. This coupled with a few more “personal tragedies” made me literally feel like I myself was dying. More specifically, I tore ligaments in my ankle playing tag with a 5 year old. Talk about making a 44 year feel even older than he is, Ha! My ex-finance and I ended our engagement. My sister was sent to emergency labor with over 7 weeks to go until her due date. Thank God my first little niece Violet is recovering in the NICCU even as I write this. So with all of these things that were going on personally, lets not even talk about getting stuck with the ice storm in an empty house for almost a week which rendered interacting with fellow humans near impossible. And here I thought I pretty introverted.

This past Tuesday, the same day my sister Audra was getting rushed into an emergency room in Minnesota it didn’t come as a big surprise when I finally came to grips with some of my own health issues I have been secretly dealing with. See I had been having left arm and upper left chest tingling for the past week. This was a perplexing situation at first, as I consider myself to be in pretty great health. But after taking into consideration that most of my family has had a history of heart and cardiovascular issues, it became very apparent that I was having my own. The denial was slapping me in the face as my left arm had progressively got worse and had noticed some strength loss as well. I didn’t want to be another statistic so I was admitted to Vanderbilt ER and went through every possible test imaginable, multiple EKG’s, blood work, CT scans, and Stress test. After spending the night in the ER I was given the diagnosis from the my doc on call. I was expecting the worst so when the doctor came in and told me that my heart was in great condition and said I was good to go home I was both perplexed and relieved. So I went home as instructed to wake up the following morning with even more progressed left arm numbness. It was at this time that I reached out to my mom and started to express my concerns, frustrations and uncertainty. This conversation had her asking me what could be causing these symptoms. It was at this point when I started for the first time thinking as a doctor as opposed to a person who clearly was not able to formulate very effective thought processes due to mental stress. I started to put 2 and 2 together. My left arm tingling and numbness wasn’t from a lack of blood flow from my heart, this from a nerve that was being impinged. It was one of those light bulb moments!

I got in my car and drove down to my office. I came in not as the chiropractor ready to treat patients but as a patient. Dr Begley proceeded to perform x-rays, history and an examination. It was during the neurology portion of the exam that it was very apparent that my symptoms were coming from a pinched nerve in my lower neck and upper back. The weird thing is that I didn’t have any symptoms in my neck or upper back like you would expect. This was turning to be a classic case of referred pain. I see similar conditions on an almost weekly basis in the office. Dr Begley put a treatment plan together for me and the first thing he did was to put me onto one of our decompression tables. Within literally the first two minutes of being on the table my left arm symptoms went away completely! This was the first time they had subsided in over a week and a half. This was a another huge “aha” moment. I was amazed by how obvious and clear the answer was that it almost slapped me in the face. At the same time I was disappointed in myself. Disappointed because now in retrospect of how obvious it was that the help I needed was literally at my own office. I could have saved myself a crazy 24 hours in the ever-exciting ER, not to mention my quickly consumed $5000 yearly deductible. This was a classic case of how psychological stress can and does often manifest into physical symptoms.

So in closing I want to first apologize that I haven’t been in the office much as of late. But I also want to confirm that my health is on the right track with continued treatments and want to confirm that I will be in the office for regular hours starting tomorrow. I’m excited to be able to be back and to serve the community with a refreshed new outlook. Check out my quick video clip of Dr Begley setting me up on decompression therapy below or on our Youtube channel.

Sincerely,

Dr Jason Crist

PS Congratulations to the winner of our Valentines event winner Michael B! Thank you so much for your trust in us with your referrals.

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