I have seen the inside of an ambulance once in my short life — the day I, my bicycle, and an older gentleman in a Ford Crown Vic collided. Witnesses called 911, sure that I would be seriously injured, so I had to go inside the ambulance that responded, let them check me over, then sign the form that said I was refusing treatment. My right shoulder was bruised and my wedding ring had been shoved up my finger into my hand, but there really was nothing else wrong with me, besides the usual mental condition.
This morning I arrived at work with a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach that moved up into my chest. I wasn’t surprised for the most part. If you have been reading my blog lately, you know how much is going on in my life, quite a bit of it is probably being internalized. I suppose I can take some blame for that as I am a bit over sensitive. I guess that is true. As I began to get into my work, I began to have difficulty breathing, the pain in my gut and chest became more intense, and I began feeling very weak, enough that I was afraid to stand up from my chair. The thought in my mind was that I was stressed and anxious. However, my father has had a heart attack and my maternal grandfather died from an aneurism and heart disease. I’m over fifty years old. Dang it, it could have been a heart attack. I sat there thinking how stupid it would be if it wasn’t just stress, if it really was a heart attack. I’m a strong guy who rides a bicycle four to five times a week, plays baseball and golf, but even strong guys have heart attacks. Heck, I am the guy at work who is that crazy cyclist who leaves his car home several times a week!
I told myself to get up from my chair, see what would happen. I felt very weak, but nothing happened when I stood. At that point, I knew I was scared, went to my boss, told him that it felt like stress but wasn’t sure it was not a heart attack, told him I was going to the break room for a few minutes. He looked at me, told me to take it serious, but go to the break room. He would check on me in a minute.
I felt like an absolute idiot (shouldn’t I be used to that?). I did not want my coworkers and friends to see me scared or to be concerned about me. The new building our company moved to at the beginning of August has our offices located at the front of the building, one big room with tall open ceiling and floor to ceiling windows across the entire front of the building. If an ambulance came, it would be right out in front of the entire office for everyone to see, a huge drama. Arrrrrrgggggghhhhh!!!!! To top that off, the man who owns our company is celebrating his birthday today. The officers and directors were gathering for a surprise party next to the breakroom as I sat there trying to keep it together. If I was trying to avoid drama, I was headed straight toward some heavy theatre. I’m gregarious, open, and not afraid to be the center of attention, but not in the way that it was feeling like.
As I sat there, I began to feel worse. I felt like I was going to pass out. It was getting more and more difficult to breathe. My boss came to check on me, said I was sweating and ashen, told me he had already asked human resources to call for an ambulance. I felt the meter peg out. If I didn’t think it was stress related, that convinced me. Moments later, two ambulance techs came through the doors into the breakroom, right past the directors waiting to celebrate the birthday. When they asked what I was feeling, I told them that I felt like it was stress, but afraid it was a heart attack, told them about the history of heart disease in my family.
And I still felt like a dramatic fool. But if I WAS having a heart attack, well,….
I stood up, sat on the stretcher, and was wheeled out through the front entrance right in front of the entire office. They left the doors of the ambulance open while they asked me questions, hooked up the oxygen to my nose and the EKG, gave me childrens aspirin and shot nitro under my tongue. I was scared but aware of the drama, hated it, but I also felt like crying. Please, please, please get me away from this, please everyone is watching this, I thought. After what felt like forever, the second paramedic excused himself, closed the doors, and left to follow us in. I received the assurance that my signs were excellent, very good, my heart was not the problem and is in fact extremely strong.
To make a long story shorter, it was not my heart. It was my gall bladder. Several hospital employees assured me that gallstones, when they move, cause symptoms similar to a heart attack. My condition is not severe, just something that I need to discuss with my doctor.
I’m pretty sure it is stress related. A guy can only take so much, I guess. Things are getting better, will get better. I have to trust God, let God take away that anxiety. And I definitely feel like a dope.
Oh, and it’s 21 years of marriage today. Mom is going to the Mayo clinic. We’re caught up on our mortgage up to but not including October. Some reasons for worry, some reasons for celebration, and plenty of reasons to just say “that is life”.
Should be interesting going back to work tomorrow. Should I ride my bike? 🙂