The recurring pericarditis that I mentioned elsewhere is now believed by my primary-care doctor to be heartburn or possibly an ulcer. The latter explanation is possible I suppose, but I'm skeptical about the former since it feels less like an acidic burning than like a sharp localized lower-chest pain such as a knife wound or bullet wound. Either way, it still keeps occurring every few weeks, it still hurts like a son of a bitch and keeps me awake all night, and I'm way beyond sick of it happening.

Here's a huge sarcastic THANKS A LOT to the cardiologist who put me on daily aspirin without mentioning the possibility of enteric-coated aspirin. I guess it's widely known that daily aspirin can eat away at your stomach lining, but I didn't know that. I dutifully took his advice for months, causing these heartburn/ulcer incidents to start happening. When I complained to another cardiologist about it, she suggested taking enteric-coated aspirin instead, which has a delayed release in the intestines so it won't affect your stomach. What in the hell?! An alternative existed that would have given me the same benefit without any damage to my stomach, and it wasn't recommended to me?

What irritates me most about the unnecessary damage inflicted on my stomach lining is that I first went to this same cardiologist for treatment of A Fib because it was keeping me awake all night and wrecking my life. I'm grateful that he successfully treated that condition, but he replaced it with a different condition that keeps me awake all night, this time in terrible pain. Fabulous.

So here I am again. It's 5:45am, I've been awake all night with what feels like a spear through my chest, my Tuesday is wrecked, and I'm exhausted and pissed off. This keeps happening every 3-4 weeks, and I can't wait for the next spell.


Four Replies to Heart Burn

Scott Hardie | July 19, 2015
I'm told by a pharmacist friend that the enteric coating on the aspirin won't really do much to protect my stomach lining. Aspirin will eat away at my stomach no matter what. And my cardiologist says that I'm at considerable risk of a stroke if I skip the aspirin. Awesome.

Lori Lancaster | August 22, 2015
[hidden by author request]

Scott Hardie | August 22, 2015
Good advice. I'll give them both a shot. Kelly loaded me up with Tums and other heartburn medication in preparation for the next incident, but they don't seem to have helped at all, leading me to suspect even further that it's not really heartburn but in fact pleurisy or pericarditis. But since it only happens in the middle of the night, I have no way to get a direct diagnosis outside of an expensive ER visit. For now, I'm trying a few dietary and lifestyle changes and hoping that they'll work despite the odds. :-\

Scott Hardie | May 10, 2016
I'm highly skeptical that this recurring pain is heartburn-related. It might possibly be aggravated by heartburn, as I have felt low-level acidic burning more often lately (thanks aspirin!), but this pain is way too acute and sharp to be that. Yesterday the chest pain was so intense that I spent the night in the ER. My heart is still healthy, thank goodness, but I had to lie there writhing in pain for six hours while they tested my heart before they agreed that it was pericarditis and gave me a steroid and anti-inflammatory. Almost immediately, I felt better. So, it was a miserable experience with a happy ending: I now have a treatment that works. I'm going to ask my regular doctor for a prescription for those same drugs so that when this damn pain comes back again, I'll have something that I can take right away to bring relief.


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