Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Good Medicine

A man should not leave this earth with unfinished business. He should live each day as if it was a pre-flight check.
He should ask each morning, am I prepared to lift-off?

Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider,
Northern Exposure, "All is Vanity," 1991
There came a point Sunday afternoon when I literally thought I was going to “lift-off.” Several days before I could sense that pleurisy was developing, but I didn't think that much about it. The last time I had pleurisy it was not that bad, it went away after a few days. I thought this would be more of the same. It wasn't. It was different. Very different.

We came home from church and I decided to take nap. When I got up, the pain that hit was so intense, I could hardly breathe. I felt like my chest was in a vice. For a second or two I thought I was having a heart attack, but most of the other symptoms that one thinks of as going along with a heart attack were not present. I now know that women frequently do not present with the classic symptoms, and I have filed that way for the future.

Monday morning on my way home from taking the dog for a walk—and yes, I felt OK except for occasional pain under my ribs—I stopped at the clinic and made an appointment to see “I’m-not-a-doctor-just-call-me-Bob” for that afternoon.

Not-a-doctor-Bob came in the room, gave me a hug, and listened to my rather garbled explanation of what was going on and decided I needed an electrocardiogram and a chest X-ray. He has an old-fashioned clinic where you get the ECG and the X-ray right then and there instead of having to go 25 miles down the road to the emergency department of the hospital.

He gave me another hug and headed off to tell the nurse to set up the ECG. Then he came back in the room and handed me three squares of Ghirardelli chocolate (this is good-quality chocolate) and talked about how when he lived in San Francisco he used to go to where the factory was and the smell of chocolate was everywhere.

I had to lay down for the ECG, which showed my heart was just fine, but the pain that hit when I started to sit up was so intense, that he decided I need immediate pain relief, and I got a lovely shot in the arm. And it was a good thing that my dearly beloved, who was at home fretting because it was taking so long, showed up and was in the room to, because I was in no condition to drive myself after that. I was literally feeling no pain. No pain at all.

Next on the agenda was the chest X-ray, and while we were waiting for them to get that ready, Bob walked in and handed us both some more chocolate.

My lungs looked great on the X-ray image. Nice and black, with no cloudy white spots that would indicate pneumonia or another infection and no suspicious looking masses. What was surprising about the X-ray was that it showed an “S” curve in my neck, which Bob said was scoliosis. Which probably explains the slight hump that developed at the base of my neck about 10 years ago.

So in addition to the medical workup, I got several hugs from Bob and some very lovely chocolate. And I think hugs and chocolate are excellent medicine indeed.

1 comment:

Far Side of Fifty said...

So what did you have? Sounds like pericarditis to me, my husband has had that twice...the treatment is simple, anti-inflammitories. Happy New Year and the chocolate and hugs is great medicine:)