Tag Archives: pain

Pain like an American Idol Winner

18 Nov

from February 24, 2008

Wow, what a vacation! It was so good that I had to wait until I woke up violently ill this morning to find the time to write it up.

I’ll back up.

I woke up around 4am this morning. Nothing new there. For some reason I wake up at either 4:20 or 4:40 every morning. There is no external reason for this. There is no bus that goes past my window and backfires. No one’s defibrillator shocks them back to life, causing a hysterical scream that awakens me. I just wake up.

This morning I woke up with a discomfort/pain/burning like at the gates of Hell in my middle. It wasn’t my chest, wasn’t my stomach, it was straight across my diaphragm. “That’s strange,” I thought, as I sat straight up and screamed.

Well, the pain didn’t stay that bad for long. In fact, in only a few minutes, the pain had settled down to the equivalent of listening to a Clay Aiken CD on a really long car ride. So like most smart Americans I just lay in bed and hoped it would go away. I was waiting for the socialized health care that Obama hid in the stimulus to kick in so I could get a standard of care that kills scores of French during a hot summer when the doctors are all on mandatory vacations and hospitals only work at 60% efficiency.

Well, despite the good prospect of getting $13 extra in my check every week (that’s a stimulus?) I soon decided that I should go to the doctor and, after calling out of work, made an appointment with my doctor for 11:45. The office opens at 10 but the first hour and a half are spent with health-care reps.

Of course it wasn’t that simple. At 6:30, thinking that I had the world’s worst case of heartburn, I walked a few blocks to Rite Aid. I’m out of the house at 6:30 all the time, but I’ve never gone to Rite Aid before. The people you see at Rite Aid early in the morning are strange. I would have guessed that anyone in the store at that time would be, like me, there to get something they need. Nope. Instead, there was a guy, maybe 55, wandering up and down the aisles, picking up and examining things at random. He was wearing a long brown furry coat and an Australian outback hat- you know, the kind with one side pinned up and a band of teeth around it, like Crocodile Dundee wore. Another guy was out walking his dog and stopped in to look at the magazines, with his little white poodle on his shoulder. The dog looked terrified and wanted to get down. There was a security guard who looked so much like a thug that I was sure that it was a thug who had knocked out the real guard and was going to rob the store. I almost left, but my discomfort was so bad that I figured that if I got shot in a robbery I’d end up in the hospital and get some relief so I shopped. I bought a box of Pepcid AC and, despite being the only paying customer, still had to wait at the register until a cashier turned up. The cashier had no name tag and no Rite Aid vest, and spoke English in such a thick, impossible to understand accent that I thought he had to be the guard’s accomplice and was sure that the guns were being pulled any second. Luckily I got out with my life. Unluckily the Pepcid dind’t help.

I got to the doctor’s office around 11:30 and shared the waiting room with a sick old woman (who’s main complaint was, I think, the VD she picked up from the Wright Brothers) and about 15 men and women in business suits waiting to sell the doctor on Viagra and nicotine patches. Usually I like women in business suits but today all I could see was that they were keeping me from the doctor. And OK, I noticed that one of the women had very nice legs.

They all knew each other. They chatted about other doctors they were seeing and which reps were seeing which doctors and where did you manage to park in Bay Ridge? So on and so forth. I managed my pain by focusing intently on the tv, which was showing a program on the Science Channel about a man who pays for his meals with small paintings of money. Not actual money, art-money, which he convinces people to take because “if you sell it, it will be worth twice the cost of my meal.” For the record, the meal was $17.68

I eventually got in and I’ll spare you the details but I know I’m getting old because for the first time the doctor mentioned the word “prostate,” which sent shivers down my spine (and elsewhere) when I noticed he was wearing gloves and the sunlight picked out a small bottle of Vaseline nearby. But that fun will be in the future. He had no desire to see me sans pants today. That was a good thing but, I reflected, most women felt the same way too.

Turns out the problem was muscular. The way I slept inflamed the upper thoracic schmemperial muscle which then impinged on my glaxoproblaxical nerves, (or something like that) thus causing the pain which nearly turned me into a quivering mass of whatever would be quivering under my blankets at 4am. The solution? Sleep on my back. And for that I had a $20 co-pay. Plus an extra charge for the EEG he took.

Ever have an EEG? You lay down on the bed and the doctor attaches about 3 dozen leads to your body, some on your legs, some on your arms, some on your chest, and hooks you up to a machine which sends mild electric currents through your nipples and privates giving you a sexual thrill. No, sorry, that’s the S+M machine which he keeps in his basement. No matter how many times he asks, I’m not going down there. But the EEG was normal.

Eventually the pain faded and at home I took a nap, on my back, on the couch. For those of you looking for a nice mental picture, I took off my sneakers, wrapped myself up in my blue Snuggie, and slept while The People’s Court droned on my TiVo. Yes, I have a Snuggie- one of those blankets with sleeves. Sometimes I put it on just to walk around the house- with a belt around the middle I can pretend to be a monk.

That was my day. As for my vacation? I accomplished exactly nothing I wanted to. Oh sure, I saw Paul Blart, Mall Cop, but the thrill of Kevin James can only last so long. But nothing beats the thrill of waking up at 4am convinced that someone slipped some burning barbed wire under your shirt.

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