Last week, I made a trip to the ER after much hesitation. I was having chest pains for about three weeks but refused to go to the doctor because I thought it wouldn't be serious. My chest pains started right around midterm season but I didn't immediately correlate the two together. I was eating a high-fat diet (in some ways, keto) and so I thought my diet was the reason why I was having such bad chest pains. After watching many episodes and seasons of "Grey's Anatomy," I automatically tried to carefully diagnose myself.
A high-fat diet was an option, but was it the ultimate reason? I was drinking LOTS of coffee to try and stay awake to study. I mean, it's college! That's what you're supposed to do, right? I drank coffee several times throughout the day but slowly started to not even remember how many cups of coffee I was having daily. So my second option is coffee, great. My third option could be *drum roll please* stress! Shocking, I know. As surprising as it may seem, I am basically stressed 24/7. #collegelife. Jokes aside, exams and studying for these exams were a huge contribution to my stress, on top of other things that were happening in my life.
After carefully considering my options, I finally decided to go to my primary physician and check what was going on. After taking an EKG (not once, but three times) I was told to immediately go to the emergency room because my EKG came out very abnormal. As soon as I heard this, I was stunned. I asked her if she was sure that the EKG was mine. I'm only 19 and I already have heart problems. I didn't think that was even possible.
After heading to the ER and taking some more EKGs, x-rays, and tests, the doctor finally tells me what's going on. He tells me that I have an arrhythmia. For those of you who may not know what that is, arrhythmia is basically due to an irregular heartbeat that could lead to more serious cardiovascular diseases.
The doctor goes on to tell me that the major reasons for my irregular heartbeat were because of stress and excessive caffeine. Hold on, pause. I thought it was normal for students to be high on caffeine and be awake all night studying for their exams. For so long, that's exactly what I thought. It's so sad because so many college students are doing exactly what I was doing but on a far worse level.
College students think it's a good thing if you're staying up with your friends pulling an all-nighter. Let me be the first one to tell you that if you don't stop, your body is going to shut down. As scary as that may sound, there has been a huge increase in college students getting diagnosed with cardiovascular diseases at such a young age. The reason why is because we stress ourselves so much that we start thinking that stress is normal.
After reading this article and my experience, my only advice to you is please, please take good care of your health. Our bodies don't like stress, but we tend to go right towards it because that's what our daily hectic lives demand of us. Learn from me that stressing yourself is honestly not worth it. Instead, learn to get better at time management. You'll be able to space out your schedule in such a way that you won't have to stress yourself out. As we go into this next round of exams, please do not pull those all-nighters and stay up on caffeine. It's not worth it. Take better care of your body and stay positive.