My first experience being a trans patient in a hospital

I didn’t realize until the paramedics arrived late sunday night/Monday morning, why I waited 3 hours to call. There are the normal reasons, money… am I overreacting….I took a hike and a bike ride this morning this cant possibly be a heart attack…? I did finally call after calling my dad around midnight to talk about what it felt like when he had a heart attack years ago. My symptoms were spot on and exactly what I was worried was happening. (In retrospect I ask myself can anyone overreact with those symptoms and that level of chest pain and inability to breathe – probably not). I had all the classic symptoms (for men): severe chest pain and pressure making it difficult to breathe ( I was gasping and moaning in bed for 2 hrs before I took my body seriously), radiating pain into my arm, pain/ tightness/weird sensation up into my neck and jaw ( more wmen experience this it seems), light headed…. So when the paramedics came and began their assessment and then began putting the EKG probes on my chest, I realized, I am afraid of how they are going to treat me. So as the probes began to be placed I realized they are gonna see the scars, I may as well just be up front. So I told them I am transitioning and had a double mastectomy last year in June. There was not even a momentary blip as everyone registered this. Phew. They got me hooked up and in the ambulance and the paramedic who stayed in back with me asked respectfully what pronouns I prefer. He asked how far along I am in my transition – which I never quite know how to answer and is likely a good topic for another blog post – I told him I started T a little over a year ago and did surgery. He is very compassionate throughout the drive and when we finally got to the ER, I realized later, he filled in the staff that I was M-F trans. People were calling me he (even tho I requested they… choose your battles!!) which is better than she – even tho my insurance card etc still had my birth name ( come on 2 weeks!!!!). Everyone was great. I had a couple lesbian nurses who were very supportive. I stayed 12 hrs and left with a diagnosis of acute pericarditis and NSAIDs. My mom picked me up and as is her norm, forgot my name half the time and never thought about referring to me as they. One of my lesbian nurses seemed confused by this. My story is it made her wonder how much I have come out to my mom and how does she then refer to me so as to not potentially out me. I should have in retrospect told her of my moms delayed integration (this would have been good for the nurse and my mom). I didn’t as we were about to leave. 13 hrs later I got home, and slept 6 when the NSAIDs were wearing off and the pain was bad. Took my stuff (I added a left over Percocet from when I was having issues with my back – cuz did I mention the upper back pain I was having right behind my heart slightly above). Then I eventually fell back asleep and woke at 11. Within an hour the pain was rising. I am supposed to take my meds every 8 hrs, so I was 2 hrs early (twice) and they take 2 hours to take full effect. Long story short, I go back to the ER, my wonderful neighbor took me, and the positive tx continued. I did not need to come out again. It appeared to be in my record. There were only a couple who she’d me and quite honestly it didn’t matter. Both cardiac docs I worked with asked about the T how much I am on etc.. Both assured me what was going on was not related to the T (that would come in the form of a clot moving through to my heart). More workups, my EKG was more irregular and my heart enzymes spiked – indicating a “cardiac event”. Part of me loves that “a cardiac event”… anther part of me wonders what the hell does that mean?! Is it a heart attack or an event? Is there a difference, if so what is it? I panicked a bit as they began the process of admitting me. More tests, echocardiogram also done the first visit, EKGs, blood work… until everything began stabilizing again – oh and nitro! I hate the side effects. Calms everything down in the chest for sure but leaves me with a wicked migraine. Meds were reviewed and added to, another anti-inflammatory used for gout and other conditions. Nothing intravenous this time, just testing how the new regime will do by letting me take orally what I will actually take home with me. Worked like a charm. Official diagnosis “acute pericarditis”. I was release today around noon.

So not only am I going to live but I survived the hospital as everyone treated me very respectfully, zero negativity or ignoring or refusal to treat me because I am trans. Phew relief!!

Once again I feel blessed to live where I live, to be treated like a “normal” human being, to be respected and supported. I continue to pray for this for all gender nonconforming people. We all deserve it no matter where we live or how we present!! And now I am going to bed. I am exhausted.

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12 Comments

  1. Glad you are OK and on a new regimen and that they treated you respectfully. It is natural to try to avoid calling 911 – and to downplay what is happening because that can’t really be what it is and surely I can drive myself there without over-reacting and calling an ambulance…and it is probably heartburn…

    I hope you have a good cardiologist to follow up with and to monitor your progression?

  2. Wow, Sky! I’m so sorry you had to go through this ordeal! I’m very happy it was just pericarditis. You had me worried as I was reading your description! I’m so glade are ok and I’m happy that people in my profession, at least in your little pocket of the world,lived up to your expectations for the most part.

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