Posted by: Joan Spiller | June 7, 2013

Stressed? Me too, apparently ..

So a few months ago I started having extremely uncomfortable (OK painful!) chest pains and a bunch of other symptoms. It got to the point where everyone was convinced I was on the brink of a heart attack, so I finally cracked and made an appointment with a doctor.

Never seen him before, he was recommended by someone as exceptionally thorough – I figured if I had major health issues happening, that was at attribute I’d welcome.

He was indeed thorough .. I had to chuckle at his facial expression when I said I was there because I was having chest pains / wasn’t feeling helluva flash. Especially as he took down my responses to the usual “do you have any family history of .. ” questions.

Thanks to genetics – I am able to say yes to a family history of heart failure (that is what Mum died of), Diabetes (Mum had it, so did Uncle Pete, one of her brothers), renal failure (Uncle Sam – another brother) and then there’s Uncle Clem (Mum’s oldest brother) who had emphysema and a few other things if I recall correctly.

I’ve always relied on the Spiller side of the family to balance it out as they seem to be ridiculously prone to longevity!

So anyway, he has a listen to my heartbeat, takes my pulse and asks a few more questions.. Then I am sent away for a raft of tests. On my return, he sits me down and asks some more questions….

One of which is “Has anything significant happened in your life in recent years?”

I admit I probably looked at him as if he’d grown two heads. What an odd Q!?

So I sort of mumbled, uh I dunno .. next thing you know I am in another room to complete a 1 page form (Yes / No type of thing) with instructions to bring it back to him when completed.

10 mins later he’s looking at the list and looking at me .. and looking at the list, one eye brow goes up. He tuts .. he looks at me again with a strange look on his face.

Then he makes his prognosis: “The test results we did last time show that you need iron and B12 (No surprises there, a common problem for me) and I can assure you that your heart is fine. Strong.. You’re as healthy as an ox..”

He then went on to say “But I believe you’re suffering from stress.”

It took all my will power not to say “but I don’t SUFFER stress, I prefer to cause it!” 😉

He went on to say he didn’t think of stress initially because (and I quote) “You don’t seem to be the type, on first meeting .. ” I had to chuckle there, I guess because I was laughing and talking away to him on my first visit, he figured I couldn’t be stressed out? I dunno ..

Anyway, it seems like there’s no real science to this whole stress thing. Remember the questionnaire he sent me away to complete? It had a list of 16 or so things to which I had to mark Yes or No if I had experienced them in recent times.

Because I’d not given birth in the last couple of years, I was unable to say yes to all of the list. Phooey! Almost had a perfect score .. Except apparently, this is the one time in life a low score is a good score 😉

Some of the things on the list were no brainers: Death in the family. I was a little surprised to see “Job change” and “Moving house” on the list. To me those are fun things to do (mostly!)

It’s awhile back now (and I wasn’t allowed to keep the list cos he wanted it) but it also had “Travel”, “Loss of a pet”, “Relationship break up” and “Complex / High pressure Job situation”, “Poor sleep patterns” etc

Boy am *I* am over achiever cos I have done all those things and then some .. Not just losing Mum, but also Dad. Not just moving house, but moving house 4x. And changing cities 3x. And changing jobs 3x. And losing a close friend. And Hootie being killed in front of me. And ending a long term relationship/engagement.. All in the last few years.

And then there’s the work thing. There’s no denying this recent project has been particularly challenging. And of course, the travel – I suspect they meant holidays (oh how I wish! Can’t remember when my last one was .. I think 4yrs ago?) so yeah I travel a little but only for work..

It seems stress can manifest itself in many ways. In mine, I was “internalising” it, for the most part. So that meant chest pains, grinding my teeth in my sleep. Being impatient and edgy. BIG time muscle spasms. Headaches – non stop headaches. This pic below sums me up to a tee!

As he had to do – I was then lectured about lifestyle and health being important etc etc. And I KNOW he’s right but it did irritate me. I didn’t cause half the stressors on the list .. they just happened. I can’t NOT work cos I kinda need to pay the bills.. So it was all a bit frustrating to be sort of told off but unable to change much of the isue..

It has made me think about my life and what I am doing though, so not all bad. I would have said that I lead a fairly good life, til I was informed otherwise lol I don’t surround myself with stressful or negative people outside of work. I spend a lot of time relaxing in my home with the things that make me feel good: CJ and my pets..

Sure, I could make some improvements on a few things but it’s a little “stressful” to try and come up with ways to de-stress when you didn’t even KNOW you were stressed!!?

One very positive thing is the chest pains have stopped. Somehow, finding out I wasn’t a heart attack waiting to happen has made me less stressed? I don’t know why they’ve stopped but as Martha would say: “It’s a good thing”. 😉

The other things form part of the tapestry that is my life (and I thought I was dealing with them fine) but clearly my body was finding it less easy to handle..

I kinda like living.. so feel some changes* are due..
Watch this space!

*I’m still working out what they are! 😉



  1. I was stressed out for so long finishing my degree and it has taken me about 7 months to begin to calm down. It’s a long road, but a worthwhile one as you know. Am sending you big hugs, Joan!


    • Thanks so much .. and yeah studying is super stressful I agree! Ugh! 😉


  2. How informative! I found out more about you in this than I ever knew.


  3. Ah, I know stress well. There’s good and bad and I always thrived on change, pushing myself ….realised big time that it was all catching up on me and I wasn’t bullet proof at all. Stress is a killer and loss takes it’s toll whether we acknowledge it to ourselves or not. Hope you find some nice ways to de-stress, be easy on yourself. Life is for living …..:)


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