A funny thing happened on the way to the emergency room…

OK, well maybe it wasn’t so much a funny thing as a ridiculously painful thing. After putzing around the yard most of the afternoon and busying myself shoving furniture around the living room, I noticed a dull ache that seemed to be centered around the bottom of my sternum. No big deal, thought I… I probably just pulled something heaving the couch into its new position. Grabbing a cold beverage and Tylenol, I started making dinner. Well, that lasted about 15 minutes before the pain started moving up and across my chest. Now, I’m not a fancy big city doctor, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this isn’t a good thing. After putting it off another ten or fifteen minutes, I knew it was time to go.

Having a bit of a “typical man” streak, I loaded the address of the local emergency room into my Garmin and set off. I certainly wasn’t in enough pain to justify calling an ambulance… Yet. It’s a quick drive to the ER, especially on a Sunday night, but when the waves of nausea set in, a 5 mile drive seems like it takes hours. Every stop light becomes a personal affront to my sense of order and well being. By this point, I really feel an overwhelming need to toss my cookies. Drawing up a reserve of determination not to spew all over my car’s interior, I drove on. By the time I get to the hospital, I was feeling more or less like someone was busy sticking me in the chest with an ice pick. It’s absolutely as much fun as it sounds.

After five hours of poking, prodding, having blood drawn, getting chest x-rays, EKGs, and meeting with 2 ER doctors, they decided that what I actually had was a bad case of acid reflux. There must be something to their diagnosis, as after giving me some ass-tasting meds and filling a prescription for Nexium, I was feeling much better. Although I’m feeling better and enjoying the unexpected day away from the office, now annoyed at the thought of what’s going to be a ridiculously large bill for a case of heartburn. I’m even more annoyed that I have to take more time off tomorrow to go visit my new “primary care” doc, who I was conveniently referred to by his friend running the ER. He’s supposed to be a specialist in stomach stuff and one of his partners is apparently a hot shot cardiac guy… so two birds with one stone, I suppose.