Monday, October 23, 2006

Aliens 5: So That's What It Feels Like

Yesterday my internal clock woke me up around 7:30. I pretended to sleep in for a while longer, and then like i would on any other Sunday, plopped down at my computer to check some email and get an hour or so of video games in before i started my day. By 12 noon i found myself in the emergency room fearing a heart attack.

I'm 30, much too young to be worrying about this sort of thing. I sat in front of my computer for an hour waiting for the pain to go away before i realized it wasn't leaving. Everyone gets sharp pains every so often, be it a cramp, or a headache, or a kink in the neck - but this was inside my chest, an unusual and frightening place to feel any sort of discomfort.

For a moment i thought my pectoral muscle was in a cramp. I rubbed the heel of my hand between my sternum and left armpit to feel where the muscle was bunching up. It took two passes to confirm the pain was BEHIND my ribs. Normally this would queue the adreneline rush, yet for some reason i didnt panic. I think i knew that if i did, my heart would stop altogether from the abrupt change of pace. I slowly got up from my desk to put myself back into bed, and close to my wife. I'd let her know calmly that something was wrong. I wasn't light-headed or dizzy at all, so i knew at least for the moment the pump was still getting oxygen through my system.

I noticed Chloe had made her way to the shower. I could groan without question. I'd let her know i wasn't "feeling well" when she was drying off. The pain didn't subside, and when i bent over to crawl under the sheets, something tried to punch its way out of my ribcage. This must be what the John Hurt character went through in Alien. It felt like my heart had suddenly sprouted thorns, turning into a burr that you usually have to pluck from your socks after walking through a country field, except this time it was my insides that had latched on to every adjascent organ. I tried to scream, but my body wouldn't let me. I collapsed face first into bed, my legs hanging off the edge below the knees.

I managed to roll myself onto my back and sit up. I saw stars and flashes of white light. Funny those cartoons i grew up on were based on some reals experiences of pain from the animators. Thankfully, for some reason sitting straight up allowed for the least intense pain. I talked to myself, "This sucks. I'd better talk to Chloe before i can't anymore."

I somehow made my way into the restroom, feigning like i had to pee. "Honey, don't be startled, but my chest hurts pretty bad." She stared back at me with her mouth agape through the fogged glass. Even while fighting off pain as if my heart had burst into flame while in a vice, i couldn't help but notice how beautiful she was.

I don't remember much of what happened in the next half hour or so. I do remember trying to be as funny and charming as possible, so my wife didn't panic, and i think it worked. I also remember knowing that I needed her to take me to the emergency room and right away. Our first hospital stop was at the wrong hospital! One without an emergency room and more of a medical center - Good Samaritan Mission Oaks. 15 minutes later, i was in the Emergency room of Good Samaritan Hospital being wheeled back to get an EKG.

The triage nurse pasted the sensors to 12 points over my body, including my calves. The glue was ice cold and felt like jelly. "Now i know how you revive a heartbeat with those paddles. You shock the patient by freezing them." She laughed. Chloe got pissed, i could tell she was scared.

"Stop cracking jokes and just be a patient." There's something to be said for the disarming power of humor. And although i was in the worst pain i have ever experienced, i still had a smile, and wasn't freaking out. I winked at her, i dont think she saw.

They ruled out my heart almost immediately. Heart OK. Good. What the hell is going on then?

I spent the next 6 hours being wheeled around in a hospital bed hooked up to countless tubes and machines going through a number of tests to rule out virus, broken bones, weird growths, trauma, anxiety, allergic reaction to medication, yadda yadda yadda and on and on and on. "Would someone PLEASE give me a pill or shot or SOMETHING to kill the pain. Cut me open and get it out!" The Radiology technician made a mistake on his first run of x-rays, so i had to do double duty of getting up and lying back down. He's not on my favorite persons list.

At the end of the day, the doctor didn't know exactly what it was. He had a few diagnosis', a number of possibilities, and most of them had to do with tearing and or inflamation of musculature on the inside of my ribcage, the membrane around my heart and lungs, or the flesh between my ribs. Painful? Yes. Kill me? Not likely. Since it isn't anything life threatening but it still feels like i'm going to die, he was sure to discharge me with a prescription strong enough to make Tim Leary and Hunter S. Thompson feel like college freshmen trying pot for the first time.

My favortie part of the day was leaving, not because i was finally getting out of there, but a funny predicament i found myself in while removing the EKG sensors. Here i was, lying in a prone position, naked in my hospital robe and in the worst pain i've ever experienced. The doctor had just given me some drugs, and they were starting to take, brushing the edge off so it didn't feel like a ball of barbed wire lodged between my lungs. The nusre started to remove the sensors as i was signing my release papers. I didn't think anything could top the pain i was already in. "YEEEEOUCH!" i yelped. I then laughed. "OWWWW!" Again. The impomptu chest wax wasn't expected, thus the laugh. BOTH of these things intesified my already existing pain. She left them on and i finally pulled them entirely off later that evening. Funny Stuff.

I'll be out of it the next couple of days, convelescing and doped up so much i dont even recognize my own face in the mirror. If at any point it gets worse, i go directly back to the hospital. Right now the pain is only moderate, but then again i'm sure that's due the heroic doses of industrial strength drugs. There's more warning labels on the bottles than there were on my TV.


David Blume said...

Yeouch! Hope you feel better soon!

Audra said...

Why am I just now finding out about this?? No one ever tells me ANYTHING! Dang you Chloe and your 'dos prompt' approach to emotional issues...I must have got the 'windows to the soul' from the paternal gene pool...and why didn't I know about this blog, either?

I'm glad it wasn't a heart attack. Yikes!!!