July 21, 2006

Tossing and Turning and Gasping for Air

Posted in health, heart, herniated disc, migraines, thyroid at 9:14 am by way2much

This blog is mainly about my struggle with losing weight.  Although, I want to also mention my other health issues as well.

My mother thinks I may have a thyroid problem. I noted that before. Therefore, I am trying to document anything and everything regarding my weight and my health.

Last night I was tossing and turning – well that is misleading. I was really pretty comfortable until it felt like my throat was closing up and I couldn’t breathe.  This has happened before and it happens in clusters – meaning over days/nights.  Most recent was the night before last. But my last cluster was probably months ago.

I am not sure what it is. Years ago, after herniating my disc and being so drugged up, I experienced this phenomenon for the first time.  I went to the doctor only because I was on the table in the physical therapists office and the technician came running over telling me I was WHITE. She asked if I was OK and I told her how I felt, like my heart had stopped beating and I couldn’t breathe.  Thank God my doctor was on the upper level of the building.  She called up and they were expecting me. They rushed me into a room and performed an EKG on me.  The nurse came in, looked at the results and a nervous look came across her face. She forced a smile and said, “I think I connected you wrong,” and rewired me. She took the test again.  Same reaction. She calls the doctor in.  He confirms the connections. He tells me he wants me to see a cardiologist. I am thinking this isn’t too good.

Jump to my cardiologist visit. He takes an EKG and proceeds to instruct me on how to set up the halter monitor I have to wear for a few days.  I am to log every feeling I have and report back to him.  After 48 hours, I hand him the monitor and my journal.  Some time later, they call and tell me I am fine.  I have a prolapsed heart rate (? – not entirely sure if i have this correct) in which my heart beats rhythmically for a certain amount of time and then it skips one beat. My heart readjusts itself, it is nothing to be concerned about, as it is “normal” for me.  WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT MEAN?

So why was I just noticing it then?  Well the relaxed state that I was in could have caused my body to become aware of everything – such as this mis-beat.  Makes sense BUT I think it may be anxiety.  I decided to stop taking the medications because I don’t want to be relaxed that much! I can’t get to sleep at night because I feel like I am going to die and everytime I am about to doze off, I choke up.

I have only had this feeling a handful of times since then.  I am going through it again. It is only at night. I have no idea what it can be, as the doctors dismissed anxiety or panic attacks.  I need to make an appointment with the doctor. But I am beginning to realize why older people are reluctant to phone for an appointment.  **When I was a child I couldn’t understand why my grandparents didn’t want to see a doctor when they were ill – didn’t they want to get better?** Now I know. If they experienced anything like I have, they would hesitate, just like I am. 

I think there is a stamp on my folder that warns “hypochondriac”. Perhaps it really says, “neurotic” or “paranoid”! I suffer from migraines (since adolescence), Cat-scans say I am fine. I have this heart problem (I thought) but EKG is “normal”. I’ve had pain for quite some time (area of herniated disc) but doctors and gynecologist could not find anything wrong with me (perhaps it was brewing from then). Now mind you my regular MD did not order tests except for blood work, it was my gynecologist that ordered a stomach sonogram (which found nothing). My MD kept referring me back to GYN. She got pissed because if I was a male, they would be doing everything in their power to find out what was wrong, but since I was a female, they passed me off to her, must be womanly problems!

So here I am now.  Deciding, should I call or wait it out? Once I get to sleep, I am fine, I obviously wake up in the morning!  But…



  1. leblue7 said,

    I didn’t know u have diabetics in the family otherwise I would have shared this with u earlier.


    If u have the time, do check out the link above. I’m not sure if the product is available in the states but they have obtained the patent there. It’s a breakthrough for diabetes. Drug companies have tried to buy over the patent but they just refuse to sell. They even found that it’s beneficial for other diseases as well and still researching into it. I majored in Biotech so I’m kinda riding on the glory of this. 🙂

    Do look out for it if it’s available. My parents are taking it as a health product and it really does help.

  2. Elaine said,

    Thanks leblue,
    I will look into it. I did check it out, but didn’t really read through it.
    I don’t have diabetics in my family line, but have relatives through marriage that have it. I will pass on the information.

    Wow you majored in Biotech – I was never good with bio, chem or anything remotely similar. I am not sure if you can answer this question – but it has been a debate with people I know. What should you do with medicine that has expired? I am not talking antibiotics or anything the pharmacist distributed – I throw them away as soon as they are expired or in the case of anitbiotics, we use them all up. But what about Tylenol, Pamprin and other over the counter medications. Is it too dangerous to use? Does it lose its potency? Just curious as to I want to settle it. My husband makes me toss them out, and I see why – but others tell me it is not necessary. I’m confused! (but that is easy for me to become! 🙂 )

  3. Angela said,

    Hi, I came across your blog after searching all over google for info on my problem. I’m having the same problems you are except for the herniatied disc. I’ve gone to 4 different doctors to see if they can help me and like you I’ve gotten no where. I’ve taken just about every test there is to take and they just say it’s stress. I’m 24 I’m average weight and at least once a week I’ll fall asleep then seconds later I’m waking up gasping for air, and most of the time it happens 5 or 6 times before I can stay asleep. Have you gotten any where with the doctor yet? I’m just glad that I’m not the only one having this problem.

  4. Elaine said,

    I was doing fine for some time.
    A few weeks I think.
    And then the past two nights – same thing happened.
    I realized I had coffee with caffeine. I suspected that was my problem so I stayed away. But I was craving a cup of coffee with French Vanilla cream! But I paid the price.
    I am not sure what this all means. I still have referrals that I haven’t made appointments for – cardiologist, gastroenterologist, dermatologist, etc. I really have to make those appointments. I haven’t even gone for my blood work yet. (I will Tuesday the 12th.)
    I will post again when I get anything definitive. What they did say is that I have a premature valve contractions and caffeine aggravates it. This is when my valve closes before it should giving me the sensation of stopped breathing. I don’t understand why I don’t feel it during the day though. Makes no sense. I thought my problem may also be due to anxiety as I am feeling a bit overwhelmed this start of the new school year (for my children). So who really knows.
    Make a note of when you have caffeine – include chocolate and iced tea to coffee and hot tea! They are all high in caffeine. Ooh and soda (pop) too. See if you see a correlation.
    Lots of luck – I know how scary and frustrating these sensations can be.

  5. Ryan said,


    I just wanted to say that I’m a 24 year old male who has been having the same thing happening to myself. The attempting to fall asleep and then just waking up gasping for air like my heart stopped or my throat closed up. At first this would only happen when I lie and attempt to sleep on my back but it’s been happening more and more even if I attempt to sleep on my side. I’m 24, obese, out of shape, drink copious amounts of caffeine for breakfast/lunch/dinner. I’m going to try to cut out caffeine 24/7 for a week. I haven’t gone to see a doctor yet. I hope my heart isn’t failing. Thanks for your blog, it made me realize I’m not alone.

  6. Ryan said,


    I forgot to mention, I’m a 1/2″ taller than you are, 5’6″ and weigh roughly 220-230, it fluctuates a lot. I hope to hear from you be it through here or you can send me an e-mail at ryanarak AT gmail.com.

  7. Elaine said,

    I was going to give up this blog as I am having a hard time keeping track of things. And I didn’t think anyone really paid any attention to it.
    But I thank you for reaching out to me. If I can help just one person it is worth it! So I think I will continue blogging about my health!
    Now for you…
    GO TO THE DOCTOR! That is the first step, even if they treat you like you are nuts! At least it is on record that you went.
    I got my blood results back and everything is fine – nothing wrong with my counts. I still have to make those other appointments, especially the cardiologist. I have not had any caffeine in a while and I have not experienced the problem I mentioned. It is odd. So I am staying away from caffeine, why aggravate it – but I get sooo sleepy during the day.
    Our weight really does not help with our heart. It is the worst thing for our health. And yet, it is so hard to control.
    My mom works for a dr. and he said that PVC – my premature ventricular contractions are associated with anxiety. Isn’t it funny how two doctors say the complete opposite?
    But he did agree that caffeine upsets it – adds to it.
    I don’t think your heart is failing you, but I would make an appointment with a cardiologist or at least get an EKG if I were you – they are painless. Explain the feelings that you are having. They may look at you like you are nuts, but pursue it. Don’t take no for an answer. If you have any insurance they will take it.
    I hope this helps you – I am not a medical professional, I am just a patient trying to keep on top of my conditions. I want to share with others what I am going through, because like you said, at first, I thought I was the only one. But we are not alone, we need to get to the bottom of things. So start by visiting your doctor and try to stay away from the caffeine, at least drop down to 50% and slowly wean yourself off – cold turkey is hard!
    Good Luck
    Keep us posted.

  8. Dee said,

    Look into dysautonomia I have this exact choking feeling unabilty to breath it is a rare disorder of the central nervous systme. It is very scary when it happens. You will find tons fo stories of people who’s doctors related it to anxiesty ect – but it’s not. Try to find a nuerologist with expertese in dysautonomia.

    Good luck!

  9. samantha said,

    I was reading some of the blogs. And I wake up every two hours at night. For months now, headaches, and gasping for air. I just pulled up on google. And it looks like it is Sleep Apnea. We gasp for air while sleeping, the throat closes as we laying asleep that causes are brain to react to where we gasp. Just google gasping for air. And see if your symptoms are related. It really seems like it. There is a dentist that does something for this sleep apnea. I plan on calling my doctor to see what he can do. Well, I hope this helps someone, it is a scary thing to wake up gasping for air.

  10. paul w said,

    I too have this just when falling asleep. I feel like it is going to eventually kill me if I don’t figure out what it is. It can happen up to 20 times a night and is so frustrating. also cannot take naps as it happens then also. just got a sleep study done but feel as if they did not get good info from it. I was up most of the time and only had one gasping episode. guess i will find out. we need to get to the bottom of what this is. I’ll let u know if I find it as I will not stop till I do.

  11. Doug R said,

    I have a similar gasping problem. Im up reading about it after looking up your blog on google! Yep, almost 2am here and i cant sleep because of it.

    Its good to know i might not fall asleep and die, it really is terrifying when it happens. I have probably suffered this a handful of times, but i relate it to the caffeine intake – every time i know im drinking too much i always lose sleep / suffer from this gasping.
    To describe it: like someone has sucked the air out of your throat/lungs and your heart has stopped for a second. Then a rushing feeling of trying to breath and the heart pumping harder. I have taken my pulse many times seconds after realising it was happening again, but there are no irregularities.

    Been to the doctor and got the reaction you said – they thought i was faking it / mad. They scanned my heart for quite some time and i was told i was in great condition. Even though i told them i only get it at night.

    Best of luck all, i hope everyone who suffers from this gets around it one way or another. I love my bed, i dont need this suffering in it!

  12. RY Anthon said,

    I too have had two episodes over the last week or so. It only happens at nite when I’m in that state just before falling asleep. Once that happens, I get palpitations where I feel like my heart is beating thru my whole body. Then the problem seems to intensify as I get worked up about the problem due to the anxiety. I also feel like I get a numbness thru some areas of my body. Those of you that have the gasping, are you feeling these addt’l symptoms as well?

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