Health & Wellness,  Stress

Heart Attack vs. Acid Reflux: How Our Trip to the ER Taught Us the Difference and How To Be Prepared

After an hour and a half of sleep last Tuesday, I awoke to a gnarly feeling across my whole chest that grabbed both shoulders, clenched my ticker and wouldn’t let go. 

If that’s too manly of a description for ya, here’s a more feminine version: I felt a smidge of pressure around my décolleté with a petit side of warm fuzzies gently pushing on my heart.

Any-way… the point is I couldn’t sleep. Back, side, front, other side—didn’t matter. I couldn’t get comfortable and the pain intensified so I finally got up. Within minutes I stood in our family room staring at my phone arguing with myself about whether or not this was truly an emergency.

I’ve only called 911 about four times in my life, and never for myself. It felt strange and I second-guessed my decision all the way through the dialing. But since there are only three numbers and dispatchers always answer quickly, the calm woman picked up before I could hang up.

“9-1-1, what’s the address of your emergency?”

“Oh sorry, wrong number. I meant to call 4-1-1.”

Just kidding—I stayed serious and boring. But I realize now I continued to doubt myself even while we talked.

“Well, I’m not sure if it’s an emergency, but I’m having chest pain.”

And that’s when the lovely lady and I started our brief but meaningful relationship. “And what’s the address where you’re calling from?”

After reciting my address perfectly without a stutter or pause I knew I wasn’t dying. Then she asked me a few questions and ended with, “Ok, I’ve already dispatched the ambulance and I want you to stay on the phone with me. Do you have any aspirin?”

Instantly I thought I might be dying. “Oh really? I’m not sure I need an ambulance. Also, we only have baby aspirin.”

“That’s okay… chew four of them right away.”

This is the part where my husband comes in. I kinda felt bad about interrupting his sleep, but not the snoring, so I didn’t exactly try to stay quiet. He awoke to the sound of a tinfoil seal being broken on a tiny bottle of orange pills and his wife talking to a dispatcher.

She reminded me how swallowing an aspirin takes a while to dissolve in the stomach, but chewing baby aspirin delivers it to the bloodstream much faster. Which is exactly what you want if you’re having a heart attack.

Could this really be a heart attack? I’m not too young, but I’m fairly healthy and can’t imagine going down at this point in my life. Also, I don’t have time for this.

Then she asked if I had any other pain and I told her my right arm hurt all the way to my fingers, especially my bicep.

“Isn’t that weird?” I asked. “I thought it was supposed to be the left arm.”

“It can be either. The paramedics should be there any minute and I’m going to stay on the line with you.”

“Ok, but can you please ask them to turn off their lights and sirens? I don’t want to worry my neighbors.”

Exactly ten minutes from the time I called I saw red flashing lights reflected on my wall and heard a loud pshhhhh

“Oh my gosh. They brought a fire engine?”

“Yes, it’s standard procedure always to send an ambulance and fire engine.”

I said goodbye to the woman whose name I forgot to ask, and five men walked in our front door. Seemed a tad excessive, especially when I saw a gurney in my kitchen.

After placing a cuff on my arm and an O2 sensor on my finger, the you-don’t-look-old-enough-to-be doing-this guy placed about ten cold sticky tabs all over my skin from my collar bones down to my ankles. 

At this point I felt quite pleased with myself that I thought to put a bra on right before they arrived. No need to scare the green EMT and his four onlookers who tried to not look by busying themselves with nothing. 

Thanks for the respect, gentlemen. And for not cutting my favorite jammies. High five.

An octopus of cords came out of my shirt in two different directions and the colorful lights on the machine they hooked me up to blinked in different directions. Impressive, but I still felt terrible.

“Can you tell me about your medical history?”

I stared at him and couldn’t think of anything. “Umm… like what?”

“Anything. Have you ever had surgery? Are you allergic to any medications? Have you ever had chest pain before? Do you take any prescription drugs?”

When I answered “no” to every question he seemed intrigued. About two minutes later all the accessories came off and the men in blue packed up. 

“Your numbers all look good and you don’t have any markers to indicate a heart attack, but since this is unusual for you we recommend you still go to the ER. Would you like us to take you?”

Dollar signs flashed through my mind. “No thank you. My husband can take me.”

Welcome to the ER

If you’ve never witnessed the incredible variety of humans coming and going in an emergency room in the middle of the night, I’d highly recommend it. Five stars for sure. Next time I need material I think I’ll head down there on a Saturday around 2 a.m.

After an EKG, chest X-ray, and being poked and prodded, the caffeinated doctor who talked faster than normal for that time of night asked if anything made my pain worse. When I said lying down, he was pretty positive I had acid reflux.

Seriously? Three hours of tests for a version of heartburn?

QR codes on wristbands now!


The Mayo Clinic (ranked the #1 hospital in the U.S.) says this on its website:

“Heartburn, angina, and heart attack may feel very much alike. Even experienced doctors can’t always tell the difference between your medical history and a physical exam. That’s why, if you go to the emergency room because of chest pain, you’ll immediately have tests to rule out a heart attack.”

And here’s their list of heart attack symptoms for women:

  • Neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or upper belly (abdomen) discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in one or both arms
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Heartburn (indigestion)

With such a broad list it’s easy to see why women second-guess themselves. Besides the chest pain, I only had pain in one arm and felt a little clammy.

When I compare that list with their acid reflux list below, I see quite a few similarities: 

  • A burning sensation in your chest (heartburn), usually after eating, which might be worse at night or while lying down
  • Backwash (regurgitation) of food or sour liquid
  • Upper abdominal or chest pain
  • Trouble swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Sensation of a lump in your throat

The doctor was a tad surprised by the fact that I don’t drink coffee and hadn’t eaten any foods that usually cause the backup. They did say it’s a common condition though. In addition to stress, here’s a short list of foods that can trigger acid reflux:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine (coffee, soda, tea)
  • Carbonation
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus
  • Fatty foods
  • Garlic & onions
  • Spicy foods

Lessons Learned

Here are a few things I realized while experiencing pain, second-guessing myself, and observing organized chaos in the ER:

Numero uno, the symptoms females experience when having a heart attack can look different from men. Know the signs, act quickly and always keep baby aspirin on hand. If I ever have similar pain that might be more like a heart attack I will most certainly start chewing those tiny pills before even calling for help.

B, my thoughts of not wanting to bother a 911 dispatcher are absurd. Always assuming I should keep the lines clear for “real” emergencies stems from innocent childhood warnings. But chest pain most definitely falls into the emergency category.

So don’t wait. Heart attacks and acid reflux can present the same, but if it truly is a heart attack, time is of the essence. As in, if you want to live, hurry your dang self up. 

I know, I know—I stalled. But when you mix an optimist with high empathy and a helper nature, you end up with a woman who downplays her own pain so as not to inconvenience others. Bothering people bothers me.

It’s me, hi. I’m the problem, it’s me. 

And lastly, most doctors are amazing, but none of them are God. At the end of the night, my husband and I thanked the Ultimate Physician for sparing me from something life-threatening. If I ever have a real heart attack I pray I will still be able to thank Him for who He is and how He loves.

Have you ever visited the ER? Tell me something in the comments you learned and I promise to respond. 

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  • Amy R Runner

    Oh no, how scary!!! Thanks for sharing your experience, and reminding us that it is okay to call 911, even if we don’t have all the answers.

    • Carrie Talbott

      Yes, a little scary for a few minutes. I have definitely changed my mind about calling the dispatchers, especially since our tax dollars pay for them and they WANT to help us. Thanks for reading and chiming in, Amy!

  • Mari

    So sorry you went through this scary experience and so grateful you’re OK. Thank you for doing us all the service of sharing this helpful information.

    • Carrie Talbott

      Thanks, Mari. Thought I was too young for this sort of thing!

      My pleasure. Someone asked me why I wrote it. If it helps even just one person get some baby aspirin in their house and know a couple more signs to watch for then I’ll be happy.

  • Kathleen

    I have only dialed 911 once in my life and that wasn’t for a medical emergency. However, I have spent time in emergency rooms–most recently last summer to get relief from what ended up being a severely impinged tendon in my shoulder. That said, your story most reminds me of when I was pregnant with my second child and having chest pains. Due to my medical history, there was concern it could be heart stress brought on by the pregnancy. A couple weeks of tests later, they told me I had heartburn even if my throat didn’t burn and it felt nothing like any heartburn I had experienced before (or since). So I know how deceptive that stuff can be. And as the sister of an ER nurse, I have it on good authority that it is true that an ambulance ride is irrelevant to how soon you see the doctor. It’s all about triage no matter how you got there. I’m glad you called and glad it turned out all right. Far better to be a living “fool” than a dead one!

    • Carrie Talbott

      Oh my gosh, Kathleen… your last sentence made me laugh inside. 🙂 Sorry you had that scare when you were pregnant; glad it was just heartburn. Super uncomfortable when your body already has enough organized chaos going on with a baby! Thanks for reading and commenting; always nice to get different perspectives.

  • Libby Taylor-Worden

    I hemmed and hawed, not wanting to go the ER one night. Although it turned out I didn’t have pneumonia, they discovered something unusual in my cat scan. In follow-on doctor appts and more test they discovered ovarian cancer and removed it while it was still the size of a pea…and had not spread. It literally saved my life.

    • Carrie Talbott

      Oh yikes! What a huge blessing in disguise. So glad you decided to go to the ER! Thanks for sharing your story, Libby. This is why I wanted readers to chime in; if we can encourage people to err on the side of caution some lives might be spared. Glad you’re still with us!

  • Jeanne Baker

    Whoa … that was quite a night! To be remembered and to learn lessons from; thanks for all the ensuing research that is a baseline for all! Heart stuff is kinda tricky. I didn’t know I had a clogged aortic valve but I figure God was in the business of “saving” me thru some crazy circumstances. Open Heart surgery 2 weeks later – better than ever but always carry aspirin around. Actually, your father in love told me of BC Powder years ago and that is might powerful stuff! Gets rid of headaches in 15 minutes but would really thin out the blood if a heart attack was ensuing. Thanks, Carrie ! Blessings…. JB

    • Carrie Talbott

      Whoa–I never knew you had open heart surgery. That’s scary stuff. So glad you’re ok now. I’ve never heard of BC Powder. Is it a prescription?

  • Gidget

    Oh my goodness! I’m so glad you’re ok! That’s scary!

    We’ve had a myriad of ER visits here and there in our life as a family, and praise God they were there to help. But I agree, if you’re in a good ER, it’s an interesting place. There are bad ones out there too.

    But I loved reading about your experience, especially when I knew what you truly were experiencing (not that heartburn is not serious). Thanks for the “ending” ahead of time. Hugs to you!

    • Carrie Talbott

      Thank you, Brenda. I remember how you guys have had quite a few medical emergencies. We haven’t, so I’m definitely a rookie. Thanks for your kindness and concern!

  • Jennifer Palo

    Carrie, I’m glad you did the compassionate thing for yourself in calling 911. I’m sorry for the scary experience but thankful it turned out well. I’ve also had painful acid reflux in the past so I know the feelings and conundrum about what to do. It occurred with lying down and most of my issues were due to a heavy-dose vitamin C regimen I was on that irritated my esophagus. At any rate, I’ve been to the ER and/or been in an ambulance before for a few different issues. Thankful to have the resources that are available and grateful for those who serve us in medical emergencies. Glad you used your knowledge and resources and that all is well. Thankful God is with us — always guiding.

    • Carrie Talbott

      Yes, you have been through the wringer, Jen! I am grateful for the medical personnel and resources we have as well. Didn’t know heavy doses of vitamin c could trigger it, but I’ve definitely second-guessed my orange consumption this week. Thanks for chiming in, friend.

  • Steve Sundin

    Virtually the same thing happened to my wife Celia. And I also played the same role with the same script as your husband–down to the same time in the middle of the night. Maybe 12 years or so now. Only difference was she didn’t write so eloquently about it and I can’t remember any of the humor you found in it! Same diagnosis. Steve Sundin

    • Carrie Talbott

      Haha… love your comments, Steve. It’s probably better you don’t remember all the details; most of it wasn’t fun. So crazy that we had such an identical experience! Glad Celia is ok.

    • Carrie Talbott

      Thanks, Alicia. Yes, you do. Apparently, you can chew a regular one but they taste yucky. Babies know orange is better. 🙂

  • LaVawn Vomsteeg

    I did the same thing on January 3rd. Ron took me to ER at 3:30 pm. Got home at 10 pm. Did all the same tests to rule out heart issue. Saw the GI doctor this week to determine it is acid reflux problem. Scheduled for an endoscopy next Friday the 20th. Will you have an endoscopy?

    The ER is crazy!! Overrun with needy people! I feel blessed when I leave there.

    Hope you’re feeling better.
    Love, LaVawn

    • Carrie Talbott

      Funny… when I heard about your visit I thought it sounded strange to go in with a possible heart attack and come out with heartburn. Now I get it! They didn’t seem too concerned and nobody mentioned I should get an endoscopy, but if it happens again then maybe they’ll order one. You’re right, the ER can definitely be a crazy place. I was grateful to head home ASAP. Thanks for reading and commenting, LaVawn!

    • Carrie Talbott

      Thanks, Jenni. You can chew a regular aspirin too, but yuck. 🙂 Orange-flavored baby goodness for the win! Thanks for stopping by, friend.

  • Patricia James

    We just had a similar scare with the hubby. He was getting twinges when we walked at the mall. Didn’t really think anything about it. Regular doctor thought there was a little something off with the EKG so sent him to the ER. No heart attack, see your cardiologist. Cardiologist thought maybe acid reflux (his dad had that as well as heart disease) and gave a referral for a gastroenterologist, but also sent him to sit at a different ER to see if they could get him into the Cath Lab. They did and ended up putting in two stents. We will not ignore these signs again.
    Glad you are okay and thanks for sharing.

    • Carrie Talbott

      So glad your hubby’s ok, Patricia! Yikes. Glad your doctor kept pushing to get answers. Being the squeaky wheel usually pays off, but it’s hard for those of us who don’t want to bother anyone. Lesson learned!

  • Vanessa Wierenga

    Just 10 weeks ago I visited the ER for terrible back and stomach pains! Endless throwing up that would not stop and you know the other stuff from the other end. I had these attacks before but they would pass. After a LONG while this time they did not pass. Ended up with gallstones and removed the gallbladder!

    What I appreciate is the amazing job these medical professionals navigate through on a daily basis. Homeless person, drug impacted female and countless others. I was amazed how confident and patient every medical professional was.

    I had taken students or rode with students to this particular ER due to my past job but I had never been there myself.

    So glad you are okay Carrie and so appreciate your sharing. I’m loading up on chewable baby aspirin now.

    • Carrie Talbott

      Oh shoot–so sorry you had to go through all of that, Vanessa! Glad you’re ok now You’re right… the medical professionals were all so kind and patient. With the amount of crazy they have to deal with, it’s amazing how they stay so calm. Thanks for reading and chiming in!

      • Jill

        I had almost the same event/symptoms you did, but skipped the 911 and had advice nurse say to get to the hospital. They thought indigestion and sent me on my way, but when some chest/back pain continued and did follow-ups and it was gallstones. Glad you are okay. I learned later that heart attack and gallstones have similar symptoms some of the time.

        • Carrie Talbott

          Oh gosh. Now I have to add gallstones to the list of similar symptoms? Sorry you had to go through all that, Jill. Glad you’re okay too! Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Ann Blankers

    Wow Carrie!! Glad to hear you are ok. A scary experience for sure but you seemed to handle it well! Thanks for sharing your story and for your insight and research on the difference between a heart attack and reflux, all good to know! Love you, Friend!

  • Melody

    First, glad you’re okay! Second, 911 dispatcher here… lots of thoughts here. Fire engines (funny thing, most are engines, not trucks. Trucks have the extending ladders on them {my hubby is a fire captain})… anyway, fire engines most often respond to medicals because they always are staffed with EMT’s (by nature, you have to be an EMT to be a firefighter), and most often, paramedics. The paramedics on fire engines have the same license as paramedics on an ambulance, and all the tools with them, just not the ability to transport. Additionally, in most areas ambulances by the numbers are far less than the fire engines. In public safety, we’d much rather get you help faster than delay the arrival of help with the limited amount of ambulances.
    Sirens… we have heard it a thousand times to respond quietly as to not alarm (worry, distress, annoy, etc) the neighbors. Fun fact, dispatchers do not dictate nor can they instruct fire captains on the response. It is the discretion of the fire captain (who follows their own SOP’s). We can add a verbal “caller request silent approach” but do not be surprised if they roll up to your house with it wailing. It doesn’t mean your request was not relayed it just means the fire captain, with all their knowledge of the patient, made a decision… for the welfare of the patient. 😉
    And contrary to the popular, calling an ambulance won’t always let you bypass the waiting room. The system is still designed to treat the highest life threat first. Your jaw would hit the floor if I shared all the stories over my 20 years in 911 of the types of calls we have received and how not uncommon an ambulance will drop the patient off in the waiting room of the ED.
    911 dispatchers are not able to ever (ever) give advice. Once that number is dialed, there’s no going back. The system has been activated. Even if you hang up, we know. And we will call you right back. Think of it this way… we can’t see you to assess you. We also can’t judge you, because we can’t see you. We must accept your statements as truth and proceed per policies. Once help has arrived, they can see you, assess you, and make determinations for you and/or with you. Another fun fact, you can cancel a response. However, the dispatcher must speak with the patient. That is the only way to cancel a call. Also, to have the dispatcher provide medical instructions over the phone, like chewing four low-dose/baby aspirin, means your 911 center has trained medical dispatchers. While we are not EMT’s, we went to “emergency medical dispatch” school and learned enough to be able to provide life saving instructions while we wait for help to arrive. Those like you, Carrie, who listen and follow instructions as delivered to you over the phone are the real heroes. Another, and last fun fact, even if you chew those tablets before you call, don’t be surprised if we have your chew 4 more once we get to that point of the call. It’s all part of the structure of the call, SOP’s.
    I could go on and on, but it sounds like the system worked as designed from start to finish in your situation. 🙂

    • Carrie Talbott

      This is all so interesting, Melody! Thanks for sharing your expertise; I truly appreciate you taking the time to help educate us. I think I’ll go back and change my fire truck comment now. 🙂 I knew the ER treats the highest life threat first, and they got us in and out of every area and chair fairly quickly, but they certainly didn’t seem super concerned. If I ever have to go back I’ll make sure to grab my chest and drop your name. Haha.

  • Susan Sage

    After a routine EKG, which turned out to be not-so-routine, and after my husband and I had already left the drs. office and were grocery shopping, my doctor phoned and told me to go to the ER without passing anywhere to collect anything, let alone $100.00! Sat in the ER waiting to be seen after another EKG and many blood tests, we went home. Obviously, I was not a high enough priority, and I was cracking enough jokes with any medical personnel who happen to pass by, so I figured why not leave the gurney in the all for someone else who might actually need it?

    I am glad you went and equally as glad that it wasn’t your heart. Though, I can tell you from experience that heartburn of any kind, especially acid reflux or Gerd is nothing to ignore!

    • Carrie Talbott

      Yikes–that’s a scary phone call to receive! So glad you were ok. You’re right about these lesser evils being nothing to ignore. I keep saying it was nothing because it wasn’t a heart attack, but I’m going to pay attention to the signs for sure. Thanks for chiming in, Susan!

  • Shawn

    Well hello! Just wanted to comment that Keith suffered a heart attack at work a year before he passed. He did not tell me after he arrived home (Carlsbad) & went for a mtn bike ride! I ‘forced’ him to go to ER next day (trust me–he was NOT happy) – and his visit 24 hrs too late–they ran tests and found zero sign he’d had a heart attack. He died a year later from a heart attack. SO glad you called 911 and followed through. 🙂

    • Carrie Talbott

      Oh my gosh, Shawn… I never knew that’s how it all went down. I’m so sorry that happened to him and you. Such a sweet man who left this earth way too early. Thank you for reading and commenting. I hope others take action as a result of my experience and all these great comments.

  • Shelby

    I’m glad you called, and I am so glad you are okay! I have had a few instances of not sure if I really NEEDED to get immediate medical help, and also not wanting to be a bother so I put it off longer than I should.

    1. When I was a teenager, on the way back from one of our church trips to porvenier, I started feeling sick. Stomach pain, fever, vomiting. I felt a little better when we got home but then I had more stomach pains that got worse. Finally we decided I should go to the ER, when we got there I felt find and I thought “oh great I just wasted everyone’s time..” turns out it was appendicitis!

    2. When I went into labor with my first, my water broke at 3 in the morning. I wasn’t having contractions so, not wanting to wake my husband or mom I waited until morning to say anything. Called the doctor after breakfast and they said come in right away, they worry about infection the longer your water has been broken.

    3. I was visiting my parents when my youngest was a baby. All of a sudden I felt ill, intense flu like symptoms, I could hardly sit up or open my eyes. I asked my mom if she could watch the baby because I literally couldn’t hold him. She took me to urgent care, me apologizing the whole way, worried we might be going for no reason. I ended up having mastitis and needing special antibiotics. So thankful for my parents!

    4. Fast forward a few years, I slice my heel pretty badly on a plastic pipe outside. Thankfully my brother is there to bandage me up as I throw up and am about to pass out from the shock and pain. I feel a little better once it is wrapped up and I am laying down, I am wondering if I need stitches.. eh probably not. It isn’t that bad, I am just being a baby. Westen has an eye doctor appointment that day so I decide let’s go there first and then maybe get my foot checked out after. My mom drives (again, so thankful for her!) because I still feel a bit lightheaded, and every time I stand up the bandage soaks with blood. She is telling me I need to go to urgent care, I agree. When we get there, I fill out paperwork and wait for a while. When the doctor looks at my foot they asked “what time did this happen? You definitely need stitches for this!” I told them 9:00, it was currently close to 6:00pm. Turns out, there is a time limit on how long you should wait to clean and stitch a wound, and I was an hour past that.. so they left it up to me (I think for liability reasons?) I’m like, you are letting me, the person who was in denial all day about the need for stitches, make that choice now?? Well I said ” if it needs stitches then yes, please stitches it up!” So they cleaned, numbed,and stitched it up and gave me some antibiotics and a tetanus shot because I was due for one of those too.

    Sorry that was long! In conclusion, it is better to be safe than sorry. And as a mom who would take her kids to the doctor in a heartbeat, why do I hesitate for myself?
    Being sick or hurt is not your fault, does not require an apology. You are not an inconvenience.
    Thanks for sharing, and reminding me it is important to remember that. And again, I am so glad you are okay!

    Love you mucho!
    ~ Shelby

    • Carrie Talbott

      Oh my goodness, Shelby! I’m so sorry you’ve been through all that! Sounds like our personalities are more alike than I realized, but we would not be good for each other in an emergency. Haha. Actually, I’m fine to gently push others to get help, and you wrote some convincing last sentences there for me, but it’s so hard to convince myself! Thanks for your kind words, amiga. The next time you’re hurt, go back and read your comments here; it’ll help remind you to take care of yourself. I’ll do the same. 😉

      • Shelby

        We would probably both be like “You need to get that looked at for sure. No I’m fine, but really you should get medical help!” haha as long as we could convince each other, we could go together???? I hope neither of us need medical attention any time soon, but if I do I’m sure this will come to mind!
        I miss you guys, I always enjoy reading your posts????

        • Carrie Talbott

          Hahaha… ikr? Pretty sure I will only hear your voice next time something happens. We can save each other’s lives from a distance! 😉 Yo también te extraño.

  • Sherry Brinkerhoff

    Carrie, I am so glad you are all right. I have been to ER several times. One time, Jim drove me. Our neighbor (a retired nurse) said always take the ambulance. They take you right in past all the waiting people and you get the help you need sooner. I thought I was having a heart attack. It turned out to be related to my very bad aortic valve. So, the next visit, Jim wasted no time in calling 9-1-1. This time my symptoms were kind of like a stroke, but different. I was talking gibberish and had no memory of what was going on around me. The EMTs started assessing me right away. The ER was really full that Tuesday night, but the EMT never left my side until a doctor moved me into a “room” in ER. It turned out after a couple of days of tests, my diagnosis was Transient Global Amnesia. Our neighbor gave Jim an A+ for calling for an ambulance. And yes, the big red fire truck made the scene. I have had a list of medications, doctors, and past surgeries/procedures readily available which Jim supplied to the EMTs. They were so grateful. I now have all my information (including durable power of attorney and a living will) in a red binder which is readily available not only in case of emergency but for when I go to any doctor appointment.

    • Carrie Talbott

      Sorry you’ve had to visit the ER so many times, Sherry. I see your friend’s point about taking the ambulance, but the cost haunted me. Plus I know if you’re complaining of chest pain you usually get bumped past the broken pinkies. Somehow I am not at all surprised that you have a red binder full of valuable medical information. Haha. So organized of you! I’m sure the EMTs wish everyone had that, especially since it’s hard to remember things in an emergency! Maybe I could make one for our whole family. Hmmm…. I might tell my parents to do this too. Thanks for the great tip!

    • Carrie Talbott

      Seriously? Solidarity for sure! Such a strange thing to experience. Aaaaaand now I feel old. Haha.

  • Tim Riter

    I can relate, I had a bad attack of esophageal spasm/acid reflux, called the Kaiser nurse first, then she said, “Get thee hence to an ER.” Good info you shared!


    Great “blow by blow” description to be followed. Good Job Carrie!

    E.Rs are an amazing place of “controlled chaos” with a purpose… We forget this place until we need it.

    Let’s put the ER on our regular prayer list…Medical staff and “clients”.

      • Laina Murphy

        Carrie, you are an amazingly descriptive writer and I loved your recount of your 911 and ER experience! Very thankful that you were only experiencing acid reflux and not a true heart attack! As a healthcare provider for almost 20 years, I have seen many patients with the same symptoms, some due to acid reflux, some due to an acute myocardial infarction (AMI – the medical term for heart attack). As you mentioned, symptoms are often mistaken for the other, and symptoms can be subtle, so it’s always a good idea to see a healthcare provider or go to the nearest ER to rule out an AMI. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

        • Carrie Talbott

          Thanks for confirming all of this, Laina. Those of us who are not healthcare providers don’t always know what to look for so it can be confusing, hence the second-guessing. I definitely learned a few lessons!