“Is it a dull pain?”
“Throbbing?” this I paused to contemplate, squeezing my fist and releasing, prompting your father to read the next question from the WebMD quiz he was reading on his iPad, “do you feel electric shock going down your arm?”
No, doctor, I don’t need your all mighty internet to misdiagnose me. I KNOW I’m having a heart attack. Or a stroke. Or I’ve contracted West Nile Virus from the backyard. Maybe E.Coli from potty training. Do something!!!
“I think it’s a stinger,” he said. “Or your collar bone. Or, you fractured a rib. Either way, you’re ridiculous.”
I thought of the cause of my injury–this throbbing pain up my chest, around my shoulder, down my back, into my right arm–and had to agree, jumping onto the bed because I was so excited to be going to sleep and landing in a belly flop? Ridiculous, but only silently. There was still a slight chance this was all coincidental and I was indeed having a heart attack, so I didn’t want him to take the pain I’d just woken him about lightly and go back to sleep just yet.
The clock read 4:22 a.m. on Thursday, the 4th of July…
“What’s a stinger?”
“It’s a football injury. You could’ve done that. Or pinched a nerve. I don’t know. You need rest.”
“You’re just saying that because you want to go back to sleep.” The clock flicked to 4:23.
“Well, what else are you going to do?
I thought about driving myself to the emergency room, but something about the emergency room at this hour felt really bad. Is this that bad? Can I suck it up for the next few hours and go in the morning, if I’m still alive…please, lord, don’t let this be a heart attack and let me die!!!”
“You’re not having a heart attack are you?” he said as if reading my hypochondriac mind.
OH GOD! “HOW WOULD I KNOW??!” I snapped.
“Babe, I’m kidding, you’re not having a heart attack. You hurt yourself being a idiot taking a flying leap onto the bed. Besides, a heart attack would be your left side.”
“CAN YOU LOOK THAT UP AND CONFIRM THAT?”
“You would know if you were having a heart attack. You’d be sweating.”
“I AM SWEATING!”
“Don’t you think it’s from the heating pad?”
“WHAT IF IT’S A COINCIDENCE!”
“I’m going to bed.”
“DON’T LEAVE ME, DENBY!” as he rolled over and fell asleep, a mound under the sheets. And I watched the clock turn five, six…
…Around eight a.m. I took to the all-mighty internet myself.
I typed “chest pain, arm pain” feverishly into Google.
An article on WebMD titled “are you headed for a heart attack” came up.
I read an early warning sign of heart attacks was being tired–I’M FRIGGIN’ EXHAUSTED!–and then there was the gem, “when a woman suffers a heart attack she is more likely than a man to DIE.”
“Watch the babies, Denby, I’m going to the doctor!” I called to your dad and he hollered after me as I ran out the door, “Hey, if you’re not having a heart attack, can we still have the Walsh’s over?”
I didn’t answer him. I was focused. Get to the urgent care place. Stay calm. Don’t die. Ask if it’s okay if you can eat an egg sandwich because you’re friggin’ starving.
…Once I got there, I felt really stupid. Having well overdosed on Advil by then I was feeling a lot better. The waiting room was full of children and one heavily tattooed guy whose jeans were so tight I wondered how he got them over his feet. I sent the following text to your dad. “Hey. Think I’m ok. Can you put her in the red, white and blue bikini?” After all, it was the 4th of July.
Speaking of the 4th…
“Hey, hi, how are you,” I began with the physician’s assistant taking my vitals, starting to fill out my chart. I smiled. “So, um, WebMD told me I was having a heart attack and going to die this morning, so I wanted to rule that out before I have people over in a few hours for a bbq.”
“Oookaaay,” the polite man said. He left the room and in came another assistant. I’m pretty sure he went out there and said oh we got a live one in here.
“Mrs. Denby, what can we do for you?” the next man said.
I smiled and gave my spiel.
“Oh! You know, I think I’m fine. I’m okay. I just jumped into bed last night because I was so excited to be going to sleep and I’m pretty sure I just pulled a muscle or something. It’s okay now. It’s better. I just wanted to rule out–you know–anything more serious.”
“You said a heart attack?”
“Are you having chest pain.”
“Does this hurt?”
“Your blood pressure and vitals are fine. Great, actually”
“Yeah, well, okay. Okay. Then, great! So I can go then? It’s okay? I can just go?”
“Well, you should still be examined by the doctor.” And I wondered what type of doctor he meant.
With that, the doctor came in. The PA said the following to him, verbatim:
“Dr. Matthew, Mrs. Denby was overly excited in bed last night and she may have pulled a chest muscle.”
Overly excited in bed? Forget the heart attack, I was sure to die of embarrassment…
And so, kids, let this be a lesson in thinking.
Don’t diagnose yourself with illnesses on the Internet.
…”To the 4th of July!” your dad and I toasted later at the bbq. I took a big sip of my bloody mary (a well deserved one, don’t you think?), and added, “to life!” with a wink.
(by amy denby)