Thought we were done, were we? No such luck. Today [now yesterday] I was feeling a strange pain in my chest all afternoon — not much of a pain, but enough to annoy me. In the evening it started to get a little more pronounced — still not particularly bad, but enough to make me think about chest pains… men who ignore chest pains, and then drop dead. I sat and took my pulse. 96. Well, that’s certainly a little high, isn’t it? I went and took an aspirin, just to be on the safe side, and then checked it again, several times. Still 96. Damn. Why so high? The pain felt a little stronger, and it felt more like tightness or pressure than muscular ache, and it was right over my heart. I asked myself: Which is stupider — to make a probably unnecessary trip to the hospital, or to ignore chest pain, when you know you have family history of heart disease? Allysen wasn’t home yet, and Alexandra was making dinner. Take me back to the hospital? I asked her with a sigh.
Then I thought about how long it can take to be seen if you just walk in, and I thought, the EMTs can make a better evaluation of this than me, and the pain was still there, so… Deep breath. I called 911. They were there in three minutes flat, sirens wailing. And soon I was on my way back to the hospital.
Have you ever seen the Star Trek: Next Gen episode where the Enterprise is caught in a time loop, and each iteration is just a little different? (I recently saw part of a sitcom that took off on the same idea.) Well, that’s what it feels like to sit in the ER, with someone new coming in every forty minutes or so. Sometimes the new guy is a fresh-faced doctor (or doctorish person) the age of Doogie Howser, and sometimes it’s an Indian fellow, and sometimes it’s a guy who looks like you might look if you were a doctor — and each new person starts with, “So, can you tell me what brought you in here tonight?” I swear, it makes me want to record my story and just hit Playback each time.
As I type this, I’m sitting here in my ER room, waiting to be moved to a room upstairs. They’re keeping me overnight, so they can repeat some enzyme tests every six hours, because it turns out that the tests that show heart damage become more accurate over time. The most likely scenario is that the pain was caused by inflammation from the pneumonia, and that my heart is fine. But the only way to be sure is to follow up with these blood tests.
I have a feeling I won’t be getting much sleep tonight [I didn’t]. Pray I don’t catch some godawful bug while I’m here.
I’m glad I got some writing done this afternoon!
I wrote the above on my tablet while in the hospital. I’m home now. The blood work was fine; they woke me at 7:30 for a treadmill stress test, and that was fine. By about noon someone finally signed off on it, and I got to leave. Still with the chest pain, by the way, which is either a side effect from the pneumonia or a pulled muscle from coughing too exuberantly.
It was hard not to feel a little silly about it all. But as the lady who administered the stress test said to me, Would you rather have been like my neighbor, who refused to go to the hospital after his wife called 911, and later that evening dropped dead of a heart attack? I guess not, when you put it that way.