Thursday, September 09, 2004

Come to the light... but not today.

I felt uncharacteristically mellow yesterday. It's not that I usually wander through life with a chip on my shoulders, or anything like that. It's just that some things tend to irritate or even infuriate me and I like to draw attention to those things that I feel we, as the human race, should be vigilant about. As frustrated as I can get on occasion, I nevertheless am happy to be alive every morning, when my internal alarm clock tells me to rise.

This morning, when I got to my office, I felt a little strange. At my desk, I had tightness in my chest, a tingley sensation in my fingers and a sudden feeling like I was disengaged from everything that was going on around me. I stood up, managed to keep myself from passing out on the floor and asked one of the women in my office to take me to the hospital, pronto.

I'm not the panicking kind. Individually, the various symptoms I experienced wouldn't have given me a second thought. In aggregate, I thought I should perhaps have myself looked over.

As we drove to the hospital, I thought to myself that it would be a huge surprise if I were to be experiencing a heart attack or some sort of circulatory system warning symptoms. It didn't make sense to me. I'm usually healthy as the proverbial ox.

My dad lived to be 94. What killed him was not his heart giving out or any other specific natural ailment, but rather being confined to a wheelchair after a botched hernia operation resulted in blocked intestines, gangrene and a colostomy. He got tired of hanging around, told us he wanted to die and signed off. His brother is still alive as I write this, healthy and 94 years old.

My mother would have lived forever, were in not for the severe arthritis and brittle bones which caused a fall, which caused injuries to her head. She had had enough pain and misery by that point and told us that she wanted to go 'home.' She was a devoutly religious woman and home, to her, meant heaven. She told us that she would hang around until her 88th birthday, but after that not to expect her to be alive much longer. Several weeks after her birthday, she checked out. She went home.

My mother's uncle is still alive. In February, he will be 103 years old. He lives alone, in near-perfect health.

No-one, that I know of, in our extended family, has ever died of a heart attack. They usually wear out at some point, get tired of a diminished lifestyle, and go.

So, no, I didn't really expect to have heart-related problems. Still, with a young son who needs his father, I didn't want to take any chances. So I let myself be hooked up, poked, prodded, dressed in one of those undignified hospital gowns, questioned, and questioned some more.

It's a good thing I wasn't overly worried because there was no reason to be. All tests turned out fine. Three hours later, I am back in my office.

It's another good, no, make that another great day.

Thanks for 'listening.'


  1. I understand the feeling Sieg. This has been my "Year of the Doctor." There's nothing like the happy feeling of visiting two different gastroenterologists, a neurologist, a pulmonologist and an ear, nose and throat doctor. Along the way I've had two nights of a sleep study, an MRI and an EEG.

    I guess all the mileage and abuse of my youth finally caught up with me.

  2. I can't say that I have had a lot of experience with doctors and hospitals on my own behalf, but I certainly did with my mom and dad. While most practioners and caretakers were thoughtful and considerate, there were those who seemed not to really care. As a Canadian, I wonder whether that might have been different (better) in a private health system like in the United States. But then I read about some charlatans in the U.S. health system and I suspect that a**holes abound everywhere, even sometimes as doctors and nurses.

    I hope that you're doing well, Pope. Was it Star Trek's Spock who used to say "live long and prosper," or something like that?

  3. Your blog was "deja vu" all over, or so they say.
    Twenty years older than you, I remember vividly the day I was being summoned to the "light". Feeling like I was going to have that last rapid beating of my heart, I was luckily rushed to emergency by my daughter who kept saying "where the **** is a cop when you need them?" as she risked everything including racing through red lights on the way to University Hospital.
    The specialist ordered preparations for an angiogram, a risky technique which gives a complete look at the condition of your circulatory condition. My plumbing was rated superior for an old crock. It was then I was told I had a massive acid reflux attack, which has identical symptoms as a heart attack. That was when the doctor said many with heart attacks die after taking several Tums to relieve the burning. So Sieg, congratulations. You did the right thing.