Hello, I am a 22 year old male.
I have been experiencing discomfort in my left shoulder and the left side of my chest for several years. It comes and goes, but lately has been more persistent than before. It is not directly painful, it's more of a hard to describe, uncomfortable feeling. The best way I can describe it is to relate it to that feeling some people get when they see something like needles and such... Not sure if that helps at all...
I have long since had a lot of stress and anxiety, and I think it's mostly a mental thing.. Although I rarely also experience brief shortness of breath, and a weird feeling that I can't sit/lay still because it bothers me. Whenever I start to worry about it, it gets worse, occasionally resulting in a panic attack.
About 3 years ago, I went to the ER after a panic attack, and underwent a stress test where I ran on a treadmill, as well as a ultrasound or similar test where they looked at my heart. I was told that all looked well and sent home. Aside from that, I haven't been to a hospital or anything similar in almost a decade, and I have always kept it to myself up until recently. I am scheduling a doctors appointment now that I have medical coverage, and am posting here because of my newfound interest in getting to the bottom of this. It's becoming quite frustrating.
I have been a smoker for about 10 years, and have always been significantly overweight. I've been trying to improve my health over the past few months though. I have greatly reduced the amount of things I drink so that it's mostly plain water as opposed to sugar based soft drinks and such. I've also cut down my smoking habit from up to 2 packs a day to about 5-10 cigarettes, and am trying to quit completely. Lastly, I haven't been getting much exercise in the past 2 or 3 years, and every time I try to work out and my heart rate goes up, it makes me feel even more uncomfortable than usual and I'm not sure why. It then persists for several hours... Should I just grit my teeth and work out regardless? Or should I start slow with something less strenuous?
The discomfort in my chest feels like it's in my left lung, and I already know that my lungs are in crummy shape, but since the area is right where my heart is, it's hard not to worry about it having something to do with that... As a result, my already severe anxiety issues often take over and compound the problem. I also experience a tense though painless discomfort in my left shoulder. It feels like my arteries are clogged or something, but I didn't think that was something you could feel...
I also should mention that when I was about 13, my parents had my doctor put me on an anti depressant for my bipolar disorder. I think it was called lithium or something, but the point is that it caused hypothyroidism or something like that, and after being taken off the lithium and being treated for the thyroid condition, I pretty much stopped going to hospitals, doctors, etc. altogether.
So my questions are: With all those bad decisions in my past, is there any predictable health problems that would be in line with what I'm experiencing? Is it possible that it's all just pure anxiety? What are some good ways to deal with the anxiety? And what are the chances that it could be a heart issue?
I'm posting this because I want to get as many opinions on this as I can get, just in case they say I'm fine like they did last time I tried to have this checked out. I was told by a friend that they didn't find anything because I went to the ER, and that a scheduled doctors appointment would have a higher probability of a diagnosis. And lastly, I'm aware that after my terrible record of negligence, poor health, and bad choices I probably deserve whatever I get, and that I'll most likely die young because of it... But I am genuine about wanted to turn it all around, and whether this is anxiety or something worse, after so many years I've concluded that it's not something I can just walk off...
Sorry about the long winded post, and if nothing else I can probably suffer through it a bit longer and see what my doctor says once I find one. I'm sure they'll give me quite an ear full about my lifestyle, but I suppose I have it coming. Still, I would appreciate any knowledgeable or professional opinion, even if it's just vague general advice, though I understand that time is valuable to people with that knowledge. To be honest, all I want is to find out whether or not it's my heart or circulatory system(i.e. blood clots). If it's not, that alone would greatly help my anxiety relating to this.