Monday, February 15, 2010

So that's what that was...

One of the cool things about medical school is that from time to time I'll stumble upon an explanation of some illness or physical complaint either that I've suffered or someone else I knew experienced. This happened today.

When I was a kid I was somewhat of a hypochondriac. I made my mom take me to the doctor for all kinds of insignificant complaints. It was dangerous when in elementary school I got my hands on some "home health guidebook," started reading about all the diseases and then convinced myself that maybe I was dying of some rare cancer or something like that. In our own day people will go on WebMD or some similar website and do the same thing.

But one time, I would guess I was probably about 10 years old, I had a frightening experience which was very real. I was just playing around or something, and suddenly experienced a severe, sharp pain in my chest. The pain came on with inspiration, lasted a few seconds, and then went away quickly. For some reason we owned a stethoscope which I went and grabbed and listened to my now very fast heart rate as I was panicking, being convinced that I was having a heart attack at the age of 10. I went to my mom and demanded to go to the hospital and she did take me to an urgent care clinic. I remember the doctor seeming quite unimpressed and giving me a lecture about how I can't freak out about every unexplained pain here or there. I must have been relieved though by the doctor's lack of concern as I can't remember worrying too much about childhood-onset heart disease in subsequent years.

Today as I was studying for my pediatric rotation I came across a question which basically asked, "what is the most common cause of chest pain in an adolescent?" I thought the answer was costochondritis, an inflammation of the cartilage between the ribs and sternum. But I was incorrect. The most common cause of chest pain in an adolescent is precordial catch syndrome also known as Texidor's twinge. I quickly wikipediad precordial catch and this syndrome described to a t what I experienced as a kid - even the panic about fear of having a heart attack. The cause is unknown although it has been suggested that it originates in the parietal pleura of the lungs. As I expected, the syndrome is completely benign. I'm always happy to make sense of some unexplained childhood incident as happened today.


Anonymous said...; You saved my day again.

Anonymous said...

Ah, This is exactly what I was looking for! Dispells
several misnomers I've read

Matt Perkins said...

Having fun anonymous(es)? Glad I could dispell some misnomers for you. That's what I'm here for! =)

Anonymous said...

Dear Matt,

I'm not really an anonymous anymore, right? Anyway, I'm a little concerned and curious about your hypochondria post. Certainly you appreciate now that pediatric hypochodria is a very real psychosomatic disorder. Acute onset generally presents secondary to trauma--such as parental separation; while chronic hypochondria can be a symptom of depression or even ADHD. Don't blow it off--even in yourself. Peds hypochodrondria also--interestingly--presents most frequently in first-born children. Does any of this by chance sound familiar? Rhetorical, of course.

Okay, off the soap box--don't want to preach to the choir too much:)
I really think what you're doing is fantastic, and I am amazed that you accomplish all that you do. Enjoy peds, it is the best!

Have a wonderful Tuesday!
(And you bet I'm having fun!)

Scarlet Pimpernel

Anonymous said...


I must have hammered that out a little more passionately than I thought, since posting and reading over it again, I have discovered my spelling is atrocious. I'm so sorry, Matt.


Matt Perkins said...

Hey S.P.,
That's some very interesting info on pediatric hypochondria and it's not something I would blow off as I know it wasn't any fun to struggle with at times as a kid. And I am the firstborn in my family and have the personality to go with that position in the birth order. No trauma or ADHD as far as I know though. Just thinking and worrying too much about everything. You seem to have a lot of medical knowledge, you're not a doctor by any chance are you? Glad that you're having fun and a happy Tuesday to you also.

Anonymous said...


I am profoundly sorry for attacking you in the manner I did today and for utilizing your blog in the way I have. I do not in any way excuse my behavior, but please allow me a meager explanation of my irrationality.
Coincidentally, while I was working call shift last evening one of my coworkers' infant patients passed from cardiac failure. Expected, but still a blow. Needless to say, after this and a sleepless night, I was in no condition to be blogging. However, rather than taking stock of my own physical and mental state and taking time to recenter myself, I instead foolishly and selfishly elected to immediately react to your post and lashed out at you.
Matt, I am so very sorry. My statements to you were inappropriate in every way. Also, I apologize for subjecting you to medical sorrow that was never meant to be yours. We all have enough without borrowing. Please delete my postings from Northwest Anglican. Nonetheless, it is your blog. I seem to have forgotten.

Scarlet Pimpernel

Matt Perkins said...

Hey S.P.,
I think you're overreacting. No offense taken on my part. I enjoy your comments. Sorry to hear of your coworker's patient.