I learned something new this past week. Amazing, I know. Apparently, you can teach an old dog new tricks. (Not that I’m getting old or anything). What I learned is, if you are experiencing chest pain DO NOT go to the hospital. I realize this runs contrary to the general wisdom regarding such pain, but I’ll explain.
When I arrived at the emergency room, surprisingly, I got right in. Evidently, the mere mention of the words “chest pain” allows a guy to skip the customary two or three hour waiting period normally associated with a visit to the ER. So far, so good.
Then started the melee. Almost a circus, really. Numerous doctors and nurses swarming all around, each one introducing themselves. (Like I was concerned with their names - or would even remember). Within minutes, they had me hooked up to several machines, diodes and wires attached to various points on my upper torso - nineteen of them, I later found. Monitors beeped in concert as if they were playing a well-orchestrated symphony of my body’s vital signs. Drugged up on a private cocktail of meds, and even sporting my very own nitro patch, I lay there quietly listening to my song. “The drugs, particularly the nitro, might give you a little headache,” one doctor said. That was a drastic understatement!
Meanwhile, the medical personal seemed to have a peculiar fetish with needles. In rather short order, they had opened a portal into my circulatory system. This established a viable means of delivering and extracting multiple fluids, including a sizeable blood donation by yours truly. Of course, the ready-made spigot, that some call an IV, wasn’t good enough. I guess they needed more blood than one of my arms could provide, because it took only a few ticks of the clock for them to start poking the other arm. Perhaps they just liked perforating my skin. It’s probably easier to remove that way - in case they decide further torture is in order.
And then began the game of 120 questions. If you’ve never heard of that game, it’s sort of akin to the more popular 20 questions, except the questions are repeated every 10 minutes by a new interrogator. I think they could tell I was becoming annoyed with the game when my answers were all, “The same thing I told you the last four times you asked that.”
They ran every test in the book, and then invented some new ones, I think. Blood pressure, ekg, breathing test, blood tests, etc. And then the story gets worse. They decided to admit me for “observation,” like I’m a rare specimen of human. What they actually wanted, I discovered, was not to “observe” me, but to “interact” with me; to poke, prod, measure, take my temperature, blood pressure, check my pulse, listen to me breath, and more things that I can’t remember. Honestly, every five minutes, it was something new. And like clockwork, someone showed up every hour to steal more of my blood. “The pet vampires we keep in the basement are hungry,” a nurse explained.
For two days they kept this up, advising me to just get some rest. Exactly how was I supposed to rest? They had deprived me of sleep, caffeine, food, and given me a massive headache, while periodically sticking me with needles, taking a few gallons of blood - all in preparation for a stress test. Really? I can’t think of any reason why I would be stressed at that point! I had come in with chest pain and a few hours later everything hurt, I was tired, hungry, and very irritable. I should have just put up with the chest pain!
Okay, the bottom line is, they found absolutely nothing wrong with me, all tests were normal. I’d had no heart attack, no heart problems of any kind. Two days of playing the part of a human test subject - all for nothing. The hospital had succeeded only in creating more pain and discomfort. In my opinion, this is by design. I’m convinced it’s all a ploy - so you forget about the original pain and think they cured you.
My “medical emergency” was neither medical nor an emergency. They never did discover why I’d had the chest pain; so apparently, my hospital stay was a colossal waste of time, and money. Eventually, I was discharged, but not without a strong warning: “If you feel any more chest pain, be sure to come back for more tests.” Yeah, not going to happen. I learned my lesson the first time; show up in the ER without a heart attack, they’ll do their best to give you one.