Saturday, March 3, 2012


A chest pain, any chest pain at all, terrifies the life out of me. In September of 2004, I had chest pains. Stabbing pains, not the crushing DON'T BREATHE! kind. Naturally I didn't call 911. No, instead I waited. For what, I don't know. Maybe to see if I would die. But I didn't. Instead, those pains kept stabbing me like I had a broken rib or something. It turned out that I had pleurisy.

Yesterday, I had stabbing pains and once again I was terrified. They felt like pleurisy pains, so naturally I thought I might be having a heart attack. I gobbled some aspirins and googled pleurisy, which might have been a mistake because I saw that pulmonary embolus might be the cause, and that's serious. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Besides, I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow. 

Today I feel pretty good, which I choose to take as a good sign, as in not a single pulmonary embolus a'tall.

I used to keep a blog called Kitty Litter. On September, 26, 2004, this is what I posted about my initial episode of pleurisy:


Yes, it is I, Kitty, alive and well … well kinda. For several days last week I had been experiencing chest pains. I told no one, not a relative or a friend and especially not a doctor. I kept thinking/hoping it was a dream; I kid you not. Such naivety, such stupidity. By mid-week last week I admitted to myself that I wasn’t feeling well. Thursday, I actually mentioned in it an e-mail to Pat [another blogger] and he urged me to see a doctor … a “good looking” doctor.

Friday morning I awoke at 3:00-ish, chest pains intact, and tried to watch TV. By 4:30 the pains had not eased a bit, so I popped three baby aspirin, because they say if you’re having, y’know, a heart attack … and that was the first time I actually allowed my mind to focus on those words: Heart Attack. By 5:15 I was terrified that I actually might be having a heart attack and that if I didn’t get immediate help, that that window of opportunity, during which time the damage can be repaired, would be closed and I would be left in far worse shape than before. So my vanity prevailed, which meant that I had to awaken DogMan. DogMan is not a morning person.

“Wake up! Wake up! Are you aWAKE?”
“I need you to take me to the ER.”
“I’m having chest pains.”
“Helloooo? In my chest?” 

This was not going well. As I said, DogMan is not a morning person.

I had assumed he’d take me in his big-A$$ truck. It has a standard transmission, while my Chevy Impala has automatic. In times of stress … at least I was hoping he was feeling a bit of stress; concern would have been acceptable … I would have thought he’d be more comfortable driving his truck. And it’s not like I haven’t ridden in his truck before, either, wedged in between all of his dog training equipment and the ever-present pooper-scooper. But, no, he wanted to take my car. Taking my car necessitated telling him how and where to move the seat back, otherwise he’d never be able to get in, although he’d try while bitching’n’moaning the whole time.

When we pulled into the hospital parking lot, there were several cop cars around the ER entrance, so I told DogMan to let me out. I was about to go in until I noticed him driving around the fairly empty lot. He pulled into one spot, then backed out and pulled into another, and then repeated the process again, just like a dog sniffing out a spot. When he had finally decided upon a space, he sat there in the car with the door open. Just sat there. I finally had had enough, so I yelled at him from across the lot.
“How do you lock it?”
“What button?”
“The lights are still on.”
Is it any wonder my blood pressure was stratospheric? They put me on oxygen. They x-rayed me. They did an EKG. They drew blood. They hooked up an IV and dripped God-knows-what into my body. They kept touching my legs and ankles and asking questions: Do they hurt? Can you feel this? They took my complete family health history, and aside from the family health history thing, nothing was indicating heart problems. Except, of course, for the minor detail of the unrelenting stabbing pains in my chest around my heart. So they popped a nitro tablet under my tongue for the pain. Four minutes had passed when the reaction hit me. My pulse plunged to 40, I felt dizzy and sick, and the world began turning grey. I was losing interest in everything, that is until I broke out into a drenching sweat, which really pissed me off because it ruined my hair.

They admitted me for observation, and scheduled a stress test for later that afternoon. The stress test proved negative; my heart was fine. Their determination was that I had pleurisy. I thought pleurisy was some old-timey ailment like lumbago, yet the doctor said he had seen several cases recently. They don’t know how I got it, and there’s nothing I can do but rest and take aspirin. So they released me, and I was home for supper that night.

DogMan told me later that he knew I wasn’t having a heart attack if I could yell like I did in the parking lot.


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