Monday, April 10, 2006


Shortly after posting Captain Underpants on Friday, I sent Superfly an email complaining about chest pain. A never-before experienced sharp, stabbing pain deep in my left chest. Naturally, I googled, visited webmd, and after being scared shitless by what I read at those sites, called my doctor. My doctor said, "Go to the ER and have them call me."

Gulp! I was feeling fine otherwise, so I did not call an ambulance. The car service was there in two shakes, and we sped off to the small Brooklyn hospital closest to our place.

Something about the words "Chest Pain" gets you right through triage and into a hospital gown. Nurses and techs came and went, taking temperature, blood pressure, etc. The first ER doctor came in, asked a ton of questions, then sent me for a chest X-ray. These tests all came back negative for heart problems. Whew! But I still had the chest pain, so, what now? ER Dr. #1 says we'll wait and repeat the 6 hours.

Meanwhile, there is a shift change. ER Dr. #2 thinks he's funny and charming. He's all kidding around to patient's faces; mock-flirting with the gals and ribbing the guys,tickling the kids, but when he is back at the ER main desk (which is directly in front of my bed) he mocks the patients and resumes heavy flirting with his PA. I guess he thinks he's an actor on "Scrubs", but his antics are not amusing when you are trapped in a hospital bed, wired to a variety of bleeping machines, forced to listen to him.

Poor Superfly. He was in a meeting at work when I called to leave my crytpic "Off to the ER!" message. After taking a cab from the UES to the bowels of Brooklyn, he rushed in to find...nothing happening. Proving beyond all doubt shadows that he is the best boyfriend in recorded history, he simply stayed with me, holding my hand and cracking wise. He brought US Weekly and for a Seinfeld joke, Junior Mints. "They're so refreshing!"

Superfly left to get a snack, I returned to forced eavesdropping on the most vomitous flirting you've ever heard. I tried listening in on the conversation of the heart-transplant patient in the "room" next to me, but ER Dr. #2 was louder and more obnoxious. Suddenly, the ER Dr. #2 looked up at me and then at the PA. "What's up with the lady in #3?" She handed him my chart, telling him I had chest pain but that blood test and chest x-ray were negative for heart. "Scans and blood are clear...oh, she's Bipolar? Discharge her."

As Superfly would shortly thereafter note, my blood pressure surged to 120. I was so furious, I really thought my brain can would explode. My boyfriend calmed me as much as he could, assuring me we'd file a Complaint with the hospital, but I was inconsolable.

Yeah, I am aware of the stigma surrounding mental illness. But we are talking about medical professionals and for fuck's sake--I presented with chest pain! I am open about my illness and acknowledge there are bipolars running around who do not take their meds or receive therapy for their illness. I had chest pain, I did everything I was supposed to do, not only do I not get an answer for the chest pain, I get treated like I made the whole thing up. Yeah, I was pretty pissed off.

ER Dr. #2, hereafter known as Dr. Douchebag, must have seen the steam coming out of my ears, because he danced around, avoiding my room, not making eye contact. The nurses were sympathetic, kind, and funny--they rolled their eyes while Dr. Douchebag tried to entice the PA to his "pad in the City", behind them.

Finally, 7 hours after I arrived in the ER, the nurses prepared me for discharge. I was told to rest, not lift anything heavy, and to return to the ER (as if!) if the pain worsened or I developed other symptoms. Suddenly, Dr. Douchebag and his grinning, blushing PA burst into my room with my tests. Adopting his probably well-practiced Soothing tones, Dr. Douchebag smilingly told me the good news/bad news: "Your tests all came back negative for heart problems, Ma'am. It can be difficult for us to find other problems, like muscular or organ problems, though, and they sometimes cause symptoms like chest pain." Not about to be condescended to by Dr. Douchebag, I say, "ER Dr. #1 mentioned something called Esophogeal spasms." He stared at me for a second, then replied, "Exactly. Something like that can be causing your chest pain. It looks like we are going to discharge you now, so follow up with your doctor!" And he scooted away with his cutie pie girlfriend.

Superfly and I were exhausted, starving, and enraged. We left, stopped off at our favorite place for some late-night eats, and went home. My chest pain is almost gone. You know what? I could have saved much grief if I'd just gone straight to the pizza place: Superfly told our friend "Joe" about our ER experience and he said, "Hey! I've had that chest pain before. It lasted a couple of days, scared the hell out of me, then went away." Sonsofbitches. From now on, I take my medical concerns to the pizza place.


Blogger Leave It To Cleavage said...

I hate people that label and attach stigmas!!! I'm just really glad that you're ok. As you know, I used to suffer from panic attacks and when I had an attack, if felt like I couldn't breathe, I had chest pains, and the doctors pretty much laughed at me whenever I went in.

4:49 PM  
Blogger marty said...

Some chest discomfort is sometimes indigestion.

I hate it when I get that.

9:29 PM  
Blogger Trouble said...

Hey, Marty, maybe you're in the wrong line of work?

9:59 AM  

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