See that diode in the center of my chest? THAT being ripped off at 7:00 am was a great start to my day.

(WARNING: this piece isn’t about wine, beer, or spirits.  It’s about heavy shit, like life and death.  Yippee!)

6:30 am on Labor Day, I awoke with chest pains.  A gorilla apparently decided to park itself on my pectoral muscles.  After an hour of trying everything in the book to relieve the pressure, I gave into my wife’s requests, and we were off to the emergency room at Norwalk Hospital.

Within two hours, it became clear I had some sort of “heart event,” possibly a mild heart attack, but the doctors couldn’t yet be sure. It was apparent that I would not be getting poolside any time soon. In fact, the tests and worries had just begun.

That night, as I lay in bed, head, neck, shoulders and chest bound up in knots, the sounds of patients 30 years my senior filling the hallways until the wee hours of the morning, thoughts of my own mortality swirled through my head.  Did I have some sort of rare disease that had chosen our Luau holiday party to rear up on me?  Were the glory days of life behind me?  A hospital bed is a sobering, lonely place to contemplate such heavy matters, and time stretched to a slow crawl.

All in all, I was admitted to two separate hospitals, a slew of vials of my blood were analyzed, a sonogram was taken of my heart, blood thinner IVs were pumped into holes in my arm, I had countless adhesive diode patches ripped from chest hair, and it all culminated in a lovely procedure called an Angiogram. If you’re not familiar with this modern marvel of science, I was knocked out and a catheter tube was inserted into the wrist, fed through one of the main arteries into my heart, where dye was then pumped in, giving the doctors a perfect 3-dimensional view of the alleyways, byways, and thoroughfares. Luckily, they didn’t find clogged arteries that required stints to be inserted, or any evidence that I had indeed had a heart attack.

What they found were twitching arteries. My heart had gone into a state of trauma and was releasing Cardiac Enzymes (Troponins) all over the place—look at the big words I learned!  The cause? Well, that’s the bitch of this whole thing. No one knows for sure. A virus that inflamed the periphery of my heart? A bizarre combination of allergy meds, sugary cocktails, asthma, and swimming pool antics (perhaps a la the Joker’s attack on Gotham City; where it wasn’t the deodorant that poisoned the populace, but the use of the deodorant, then the hair spray, followed by the toothpaste). I will never know.

What I do know, is I was grounded from going to work for a week, and instructed to lay off my wrist which had been penetrated by modern medicine, so no typing, carrying my child or skeet shooting.

And what I do know, is I’m still alive. Hey I, I, I, I’m still alive, yeah.


13 Responses to “Facing My Own Mortality From a Hospital Bed in Connecticut”

  1. Matt Garland says:

    We’re just super-happy that you’re well! Thanks for sharing your story.

    See you (with a glass of something yummy, I hope) soon.


  2. David Palmer says:

    A profound journey, my friend. And, as usual, you know how to extract wisdom (and even some smiles) from trying circumstances. Sorry for the cliche: but, be good to your self. You are loved.

  3. Wow, rest up man. Hope things will be on the better soon.

  4. Carol O'Connor says:

    David, Welcome to my world. When I was 28 years old, living in NY, mother of 4 under 5, I awoke with same symptoms; off to the hospital; I think I was there for 5 days. This was in 1971, August to be exact. The humidity was 98%, temps in the high 90’s. In those days, there were no diagnostic procedures like we have today. After everything, including rest (a joke if you have 4 kids under 5), the cardiologist shook his head and said he didn’t think it was a heart attack. Moved to Phoenix, out of the high humidity, I have been fine ever since, except for one or two chest pains. I have had two angiograms, but they went through my groin. Doctor said everything was great; no blockages, etc. Since the first event, I have continued on my crazy, busy life, raising kids, working hard, and yes, in 1982 did a 7 hour high impact aerobics marathon. I trust you will be fine, but I know the scare it can give you. Keep me posted. Love to Katherine and Cadel.

  5. James Grimaldi says:

    How frightening. Happy you’re on the road to recovery.
    And great writing!

  6. michele says:

    I’m so sorry you went through this. I am glad you are OK, but not glad you have no idea what happened. I wish you good health and stuff!

  7. NEW POST: 6:30 am on Labor Day, I awoke with chest pains. That's when the fun ensued…

  8. Wine Lover says:

    Facing My Own Mortality From a Hospital Bed in Connecticut: (WARNING: this piece isn’t about wine, beer, or spir…

  9. @abaesel2 Annette, tks for the favorite! (re: 6:30 am Labor Day, I awoke w/ chest pains. Thats when the fun ensued:

  10. michele says:

    NEW POST: 6:30 am on Labor Day, I awoke with chest pains. That's when the fun ensued…

  11. @OConnorChris Tks for the RT! Facing My Own Mortality From a Hospital Bed in Connecticut

  12. Ted Marks says:

    Not fun I’m sure, but wake up call do have a purpose and it looks like your pulling through. Great!

  13. Thanks for the kind words, everyone. I appreciate you all taking a minute to write in; it downright warms my heart….which I’m pretty sure is a good thing. And, Carol, thanks for sharing your story! You’re a downright champion. Wow.

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