Sunday, March 07, 2010
You're So Vein
At least my veins look good.
I had planned on going to the gym on Sunday morning, but I ended up in the emergency room at Lutheran Medical Center instead.
I had been feeling this discomfort around my chest for about three days and when it refused to go away, I finally went to the hospital.
It started Thursday night right after supper. I had been feeling pretty good; I had come through a tough week without blowing my stack, at least not too much, anyway.
And then I started feeling lightheaded, my stomach gurgled like a cauldron, and my chest felt a little...weird. I sat down and said "what the hell is this?"
I actually considered called 911. I got dressed, got out my insurance card and sat in my living room with the phone in my hand.
I’m not a young man anymore, of course, but I’m also a bit of hypochondriac. I pictured an ambulance and a fire engine pulling up in front of my house in the dead of night with the lights going. I saw myself being carried out on a stretcher in front of everyone on the block so I could be treated for…gas?
I kept telling myself that I was okay, this was nothing, but then a lot of people have said those same things just before they died.
I thought about calling some of my relatives, but I didn’t want to upset them. I considered calling my ex-girlfriend, but she might have taken my actions as a lame excuse to get back together. So I went to bed.
I got through Friday and felt reasonably well, but then the symptoms returned at night and once again I thought about calling for help. And once again I didn't.
I tried to calm myself down by looking up the symptoms of a heart attack on the internet, but just about everything you can name could be a symptom of a heart attack and I damn near had a heart attack reading about this stuff.
While I was checking my emails, I spotted an online ad that featured an attractive young woman standing over a tombstone and the words “What if you died tomorrow?” floating over her head. Somehow I managed to sleep that night.
When I woke up Sunday feeling no better, I decided to cave and go down to Lutheran. As I waited for the nurse to call my name, I thought about the minor things that I let upset me and how foolish it is to waste so much energy getting angry or being worried all the time.
I have to say the staff treated me really well and they were all so professional I immediately felt better.
And no less than three nurses stopped by to say what great veins I had. No one’s ever complimented my veins before, so I didn't how to respond. Gee, thanks, you should see my liver.
Apparently my veins are easy to find and thus prime targets for injections.
“If any of your friends are nurses,” one of them told me, “they’ll know what we’re talking about it.”
By the way, my nurse also told me I looked like I was in my thirties, so I guess it’s all in the veins.
I got a blood test, a chest X-ray, and an EKG. They gave me Mylanta, hooked me up to a blood pressure machine that squeezed my arm at regular intervals, and they even put the oxygen tube in my nose.
The ER was all too familiar, as my sister and I have been here many times when our parents were going through various illnesses and seizures. Only now I was the patient.
The tests came back okay and my doctor thinks it may be some kind of stomach problem. I feel a little foolish for doing this now, but I didn't want to take any chances.
The most painful moment of the day came when I pulled off those EKG stickers. I may not have any hair on my head, but I’ve got plenty on my chest. Or at least I used to.
My doctor wants me to take some antacid medication to see if the trouble is in my guts.
“And if it’s not that,” he said, “then it’s your nerves.”
Nerves? Me? You don't say...?
I still haven’t removed the hospital’s plastic bracelet from my wrist. And when I do, I think I’ll keep it as a reminder of the promises I made to myself about calming down and being more positive. I’ve got to take care of these fabulous veins.