A Scary Couple of Days — by Norm Brown

A couple of weeks ago, I woke up to discover a feeling of tightness right in the center of my chest. At first I tried to imagine that I had pulled a muscle or something, but by the next morning it had become what I could only describe as the “chest pains” that guys my age have good reason to fear. Several of my school classmates, as well as my older brother, have recently had to endure heart bypass surgery with varying results. I’m normally an optimistic, cheerful person, but I couldn’t help but fall into a frightened, depressed panic. It seemed to be my turn.

Having been fortunate enough to have never suffered from any major illness or injury, I’m not at all familiar with local hospitals or insurance procedures. Should I call 9-1-1 or drive myself to a hospital emergency room for tests? I wasted the rest of that day debating with myself about what to do. Yeah, I know, stupidly dangerous thing to do, but fortunately the steady deep soreness didn’t get any worse. I didn’t want to frighten my sons until I at least had some idea of the scope of the problem. So, I called my regular doctor’s office, fully expecting to be told to get to a hospital. My thinking was that they could at least advise me on which area hospital was best or refer me to a specialist. Unlike me, the receptionist was calm and undisturbed. She checked with my doctor and said he could see me as soon as I could get there.

Doctor King shares his office space with two pediatricians. So, as usual, there were a few parents in the waiting room with small children. One lady sat beside a baby carriage containing an unhappy sounding infant. Her daughter, probably around four years old, was standing over by the aquarium watching the tropical fish. I smiled at the little blonde girl when she turned to look in my direction. Before I knew what was happening, she was across the room and hugging me like her long lost grandpa. Her mom seemed surprised and called out, “Sarah.” I patted the little girl’s back and she happily headed back over toward the fish. Glancing over at the lady, I only managed to mumble, “Don’t worry. I’m not contagious.”

Right on cue, a medical assistant called my name and I went in to see the doctor. We talked about my symptoms and he pushed and felt around a bit. After a nurse gave me an EKG test, Doctor King returned to inform me that he was giving me a prescription for acid reflux disease and had scheduled a precautionary chest X-ray. I never would have thought I could be thrilled to be diagnosed with any type of disease, but under the circumstances I’ll take that outcome any day. Maybe it’s a bit overdramatic, but it seemed like the sun rose as I walked out of the building. If I hadn’t been afraid of breaking something, I would have jumped up and tried to click my heels. With my family history of heart disease, the risk of more serious problems could still be there someday in the future, but not that day.

Sometimes, all you really need is a hug…and maybe a little Prilosec.

Norm Brown is the author of the suspense novel Carpet Ride, published by Secondwind Publishing, LLC.

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16 Comments

Filed under musings, Norm Brown

16 responses to “A Scary Couple of Days — by Norm Brown

  1. So relieved that you got good news! (comparatively speaking…)

  2. dellanioakes

    Norm, I’m so glad you’re all right. I’m sorry to hear you’ve got acid reflux, but considering its alternative, I’m thrilled that’s all it was!

  3. Yes–glad this was not the bad news you thought it was. We’re all on that same slippery slope. (Maybe take a look at your diet and go very easy at night. Found I can’t eat the traditional nighttime meal at all anymore.)

    • Juliet, the medicine seems to have slowly helped. It’s more of an occasional annoyance now and feels more like regular heartburn, rather than the sharp pain that it caused at first.

  4. Norm, I’m really glad you only have acid reflux! As I understand it, writing one crime/mystery novel a year prevents all future heart attacks. . . . Just saying.

  5. Lucy

    Hi Norm, in my “day job” I’ve learned way too much about reflux. It’s all part of being a swallowing therapist. Here are some strategies to combat it, keeping in mind that everyone is different and some of these might not apply to you: 1) Avoid caffeine, which means chocolate, too. 2) Avoid minty things, 3) Avoid spicy foods and acidic foods, 3) Don’t eat 3 hours before going to bed, and remain upright for at least 1/2 an hour after each meal, 4) Consider putting blocks under the head of your bed. Extra pillows don’t work; you have to put the bed on a slant. 5) Quit smoking, if you have the habit, 6) Lose extra pounds, if you have any (sometimes this one by itself can eliminate the problem), 7) Don’t wear clothes that have a too-tight waistband, 8) Don’t bend over from the waist to pick things up off the floor; squat straight down instead, 9) Drink water, 10) Consider having 5-6 small meals a day instead of 3 larger ones.
    Also, be careful not to stay on acid reducing medication for too long. Some research has shown that being on those medications can increase risk of getting pneumonia or flu. The acid (in the right amount) plays a key role in killing bad bacteria in the GI tract.
    So glad it wasn’t a heart attack!!! Feel better soon and stay healthy!

    • I have cut back on coffee. It was beginning to upset my stomach lately. Wow. I’ll have to think about some of these. I’m only a little overweight, but I really love spicy foods. So far it has not bothered me at all at night, even when it was at its worst. Thanks for the info.

  6. No fun, Norm, but I’m glad it’s not your heart. When we took care of my mother, I got her off drinking her diet coke every day. Her acid reflux disappeared and the swelling around her ankles disappeared. You don’t drink asparatame beverages, do you?

    • Hmmm, you may be on to something, Christine. Just in the last few months I’ve been drinking Red Bull when I exercise 2 – 3 times per week. I just looked. It does contain aspartame. I’ll switch back to water and see.
      Thanks for the suggestion

  7. Becky Thomas

    You did the right thing, so glad things turned out the way they did. I read an article about aspartame, scary stuff. Most diet beverages and sweetners contain aspartame. If enough is ingested and because of the way it is metabolized it can cause symtoms of various diseases. I’ll see if I can find the article and send it to you. Take care.

  8. Donald Brown

    Hey, bro. Isn’t Red Bull full of caffein?

    • Yeah, that too. But I’ve always consumed a lot of coffee every day. So, caffeine is not a new thing, but may be involved. From what I’ve found online, the aspartame connection is somewhat controversial.

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