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.