Last Thursday I woke up at 3:00 a.m. with discomfort in my chest. I tried to remain calm. I took my blood pressure: 159/85. Definitely not good. Woke up hubby and went to urgent care, where the nurse takes me into a curtained cubicle and helps me into one of those revealing gowns and onto a surprisingly comfortable gurney with real sheets and a pillow. By this time, I’m convinced I’m dying. I fold my hands over my stomach and decide if it’s my time to go, I might was well relax and enjoy the idea of not cleaning up those dirty dishes left in the sink last night. By golly, someone else would have to do that now. And what about my hair appointment next week? Ah, someone will take care of that, too. I stare up at the bright light above my head while the nurse hooks me up to a blood pressure machine and sticks little round circles with wires attached all over the left side of my chest and flabby belly. Well, indeed, if it is the end, I won’t have to worry about taking off that extra fifteen pounds I’ve been procrastinating about forever.
The nurse works around me, hooking me up to the EKG, another nurse takes a couple vials of blood. The doctor comes in and starts asking me questions. I answer, trying to decide if my pain is a 1 or a 10, or somewhere between. At this point I’m not really having any pain, just discomfort. I feel guilty, as if I should give him something to go on, like at least a 1 or a 2. The doctor is nice; I can tell he’s asked the same questions at least a million times before.
Of course, writers always anticipate drama. We just can’t help it. I relaxed enough that I’m beginning to run new story scenes in my head. I feel a bit smug, knowing the doctor and nurses have no idea that I’m creating characters; that everything they say and do is fodder for dialogue and story. I study the curtains of my cubicle and watch as the air flow kind of makes them shimmy and sway. I wonder how many people have died on this same gurney. Not a good thought.
I feel a sudden pinch of pain just to the left of my breastbone. It’s intense but short in duration. I turn to the vitals monitor; my blood pressure is now 195/89. Amazingly, I’m really calm. I vaguely wonder how high my blood pressure can go before I implode. I think of that movie, Alien, and the creature bursting out of the man’s chest. Oh, yeah, even at death’s door, my imagination is revving up, in overdrive.
A technician rolls an x-ray machine into my cubical. I’m thinking I must be bad off if they have to bring the x-ray machine to me. Maybe I’m like a cake baking in the oven; if they jiggle me the wrong way, I might go flat. My blood pressure climbs to 199/90. Truly, I’m waiting for the “big one” like Red Foxx always talked about in Sanford and Son.
All this time my poor hubby has been sitting in a chair backed up against a wall and out of the way, waiting, waiting, waiting. He’s diabetic, so I tell him to go get something to eat before his sugar drops and he ends up in the cubicle beside me.
I’m alone in my cubicle. On the other side of the curtain, I hear the nurses talking to the doctor about my blood pressure. I begin to feel like a patient in one of those doctor shows where they are gathered outside the patient’s room shaking their heads and debating what the odds are for the woman in cubicle 7.
Finally a nurse comes in, and I say to her: “I gotta pee.” She detaches me from the EKG and monitor, gives me a couple of pills to relieve any possible indigestion, hands me a pee container and tells me to fill it.
By the time I return to my gurney, I’ve experienced a miracle. I no longer feel the discomfort in my chest. I’m giddy with relief. I tell the nurse that whatever she gave me did the trick. The next blood pressure reading is much lower. The EKG is normal. The blood is normal. Could it be I was cured with a belch and a fart? Oh, the indignity of it all.
The doctor returns to the cubicle and tells me that although I am to check with my regular physician, he doesn’t see me as a high risk for a heart attack. Acid Reflux is his diagnosis. He hands me a prescription and disappears into another patient’s life.
So, here I am, alive and well: a writer with a new experience under her belt. Two important things I’ve learned: 1) to appreciate the dedication of health care workers; and 2) my imagination and I will be together til death do us part. Big, big smile.
Sherry Hartzler is the author of Three Moons Over Sedona and Island Passage found exclusively on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/183-7730245-9292037?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=sherry+hartzler