Two weeks ago, I felt a pain in my chest. A bad pain. A real bad pain. The pain lasted for a few days. On more than one occasion I dialed 9-1 and left of the last 1 so I would only have one number to dial if I dropped in a chest-squeezing, sweating hump of premature death. If the bad pain didn't last so long, I would have been in the hospital (or morgue).
I spent much of the following days on WebMD convinced that I had every possible heart condition that I read about. As I read each one that was the one that I had. I had nightmares about every slice of deep dish pizza I ever consumed. I thought about the hours of not moving on my couch making CJ from GTA run. All while laying down (it's a lot of work to sit upright). I cringed thinking about the holiday "treats" that my coworkers brought in that I ate. I don't even like fruitcake.
After two days I set up an appointment with my doctor. She is a very nice lady with two dogs that likes to tell me how fat I am. (I saw her once at a Brian Wilson show and she actually said, "Oh, now we are not exercising and drinking.") She was available the following Monday. A week away. The pain persisted. I started calling her and begging for an earlier time. I got one on Friday.
She asked her questions and then had me take off my shirt for an EKG. I don't know the professionalism of this but she did comment on my slimmer belly. Do you think she actually remembers me topless from two years ago when I last took off my shirt in front of her? Do all my doctors. Does my fat ass leave that much of an impression? Was she amazed by the man-tits that I had developed? I assume so because my belly is still big but the man-tits are whittling down. Maybe that is what she meant but couldn't find the appropriate medical word for man-tit.
I laid down and metal post-it notes were stuck to my chest, underarm, and ankles. Alligator clamps hooked up to a machine were attached to them. Instructions are to breath normally. I tried as best as a man having a panic attack can. I am aware that within an hour I will be in the ER preparing for my septuple bypass. I make a deal with myself. If I behave and make it through the surgery without harassing the medical staff, I will treat myself to a Michaels taco pizza.
The machine spits out a very small (yet expensive) piece of paper with the famous heart-line tick marks on it. She looks it over, looks at me, and looks at the paper again. I decide that I am glad that I am not a doctor. I would hate to break it to 35 year old men that they are about to die. I would also hate to see fat 35 year old men topless.
"Well," the doctor says, "looks like a very healthy heart."
Confused, I inform her that she has to be wrong. Could it be that the twelve aspirin a day regimen that I had put myself on threw the test? No, but she recommends I stop consuming aspirin like tic-tacs. Could the fact that I have been exercising for three weeks have tricked the CPU into believing that my heart was healthier than it was. No, but keep it up you big Billy-band wearing, Tae-Bo punching, girly man. F, relax, it's heartburn.
I have had heartburn before. At least I thought I had had heartburn before. I'd chew a Tums or two and I am on my merry way to a spicy bowl of Green Curry. Never did I think that heartburn could be a crippling painful, frightening, horrible event that could make a grown man weep and have second thoughts about how he lived his life. The phrase "heartburn" had always confused me before. I understand now.
I won't go into the exact kind of "burn" I have. I won't bore you with my medications I had to take. Suffice it to say I am alive and better now. The meds stopped today. I have decided to keep the diet and exercise. The good part is that I spend more time with my wife now. I didn't realize that life is short and I should make the most out of it. I didn't come to the conclusion that every moment is precious. I didn't have an epiphany that love is all we have in this crazy world. No, I simply lost my man-tits.