Friday, February 25, 2011


First night sleeping with pleurisy. Felt like I'd been stabbed and left to die, writhing in the gutter. It's the medicinal equivalent to 1980s New York City. -- Me, paraphrased from Twitter this morning.

Wait. I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start at the beginning.

And, as is sometimes the case with tales of pain and suffering, my story begins with a woman.

Thursday, February 24

10:45 AM -- I'd just gotten off my cell phone with Mrs. V -- a former colleague and longtime friend of my family. She was in town from the east coast on business and the two of us were working out the details on meeting up for dinner that evening. It's a clinically proven fact that one man and one woman can't reach a consensus on where to eat in the five short minutes we were on the phone together, so I promised to call her back after lunch with some suggestions.

10:50 AM -- Returning to my desk, my first thought as I sat down was the Oakland A's season preview/player profile blog post I'd started the night before. I needed a short, succinct YouTube clip that conveyed a cartoonish amount of power. I ended up
settling for this, but the 30 minute search ended up stalling me creatively and I was still bugged about it. Then, I coughed once before inhaling deeply in advance of the second cough. That's when I felt it.

10:55 AM -- For the past five minutes, whenever I tried to take a moderate-to-deep breath, I felt acute tightness in the center of my torso -- right where the bottom of my sternum and the top of my abdomen meet. It was as if an imaginary hand had reached through my emaciated, concave chest and methodically tugged on the musculature within. Here's a short, succinct
YouTube clip that cartoonishly conveys my point.

11:05 AM -- The tightness has become a stabbing pain whenever I inhale. I've commandeered a conference room -- locking the door behind me -- and immediately double over. I probably shouldn't admit that saving myself from embarrassment ranked a notch higher than, well...saving myself, but I glanced towards the lock on the door again to make sure my one-man episode of
Mystery Diagnosis couldn't become a public spectacle.

11:15 AM -- Sitting upright once again, but still behind the walls of my pirated conference room, I try to wait out the pain by pulling out my cell phone and checking in on the
Dr. Dre discussion from earlier in the week. I'm feeling a little better, so I attempted to analyze the root cause for my discomfort. I've been ill or recovering from an illness or on medication for much of 2011. Earlier in the week, I developed a weak cough that I hadn't been able to shake. In fact, it reminded me of this cough. Which, of course, reminded me of this condition, which reminded me of this night. And, now, I'm hyperventilating.

11:30 AM -- I've settled down to the point where I decide to drive myself to Urgent Care. I'm still feeling pain -- in wildly varying degrees -- when I inhale. As I'm walking to my car, I call Mrs. Bootleg. It rolls to her voice mail and I attempt to leave a message that won't unnecessarily alarm her:

Hey. DON'T get alarmed or anything, but I'm driving myself over to Urgent Care. My chest feels tight and I'm having trouble breathing. Wait...I mean...I can breathe, but it just hurts when I breathe. Just...I...I'm making this sound worse than it is. I'll call you when I know something.

There. That shouldn't unnecessarily alarm her at all.

11:40 AM -- Checking in at Urgent Care and the woman at the front desk asks how long I've been experiencing these symptoms. "About an hour", I replied. Her dismissive sideways glance and snotty response ("An hour?") leaves me wondering if my condition is too urgent or not urgent enough for Urgent Care.

11:55 AM -- I'm handed a hospital gown and told to take my dress shirt and undershirt off. I barely get the gown on when the doctor arrives. He puts me through several breathing tests before offering a preliminary diagnosis of
pleurisy. He still wants to take x-rays of my chest, so he asks me to wait for a technician to take me over.

12:00 PM -- I've had my share of x-rays over the years and the one constant is the x-ray technician: always male, at least two visible tattoos, unshaved for several days and possibly the least hygienic person within a five mile radius. Instead..."Hi, I'm Megan...I'll be walking you over to x-ray!" I wasn't expecting a petite brunette. I also wasn't expecting the back of my hospital gown to be wide open as I left the examining room and walked into a common area. My slacks were still on, but...take it, Megan:

"Oops...let's get you tied up back here. We don't need all my co-workers seeing the top of your striped silk drawers."

I lost it here, alternating laughter with agony. I regret that I didn't get the chance to commend Megan on her inexplicably accurate pronunciation of drawers. That's no small feat.

12:30 PM -- The doctor has reviewed my x-rays and can't find anything wrong with what he sees. He suggests Aleve -- the over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug -- after I'd told him that ibuprofen wrecks havoc on my stomach.

12:40 PM -- While standing in line at the pharmacy, my cell phone starts buzzing and flashes a phone number that I don't recognize. I let it roll to voice mail. I finish my purchase and play back the message:

"Hi, Aaron, you just left my office. Do NOT take Aleve! I was going over your primary care physician's file and see that you're allergic to aspirin. You could have a violent reaction to Aleve. Call me as soon as you get this message. I'm going to call your home, work and emergency contact numbers on file, too! Call me when you get this!"

I am not having a very good day.

4:00 PM -- The doctor's office confirms the initial pleurisy diagnosis. And, since I just finished a 10-day supply of antibiotics, the doctor believes my condition is viral in nature. Consequently, there's not much they can do for me except let the bug work its way out of my system. NOW, he's recommending Tylenol, but warns, "It won't do much for the pain. You're going to be quite uncomfortable for two or three days." So, of course, I took to Twitter:

Just diagnosed with pleurisy. For those scoring at home, I've been healthy for roughly 5 of the first 55 days of 2011. .091 batting average.

In response, I received back-to-back Tweets from two of my favorite people:

"Sounds like someone's angling to be the Royals new left fielder." -- Sam

"I'm not liking this, dude... Not the dx nor the average. Don't turn all "Mets" on us, now. -- Michiewah

I mean this in the best way possible -- both comments caused me great pain.

8:00 PM -- Over the next four hours, the persistent pain in my chest has moved to the left side of my rib cage and then to my back. I try laying down, sitting up and the fetal position...nothing brings relief. The doctor clearly said I'd be uncomfortable for "two or three DAYS". Are the accompanying nights just implied?

Friday, February 25

5:00 AM -- After a fitful, erratic evening of sleep, I get up. My resultant "UNNNGHH!" wakes Mrs. Bootleg who, in years past, has been known to sleep through winter.

6:00 AM -- The bronze medal for unmitigated discomfort is awarded at the exact moment I bend slightly over so I can wash beneath my waist in the shower.

7:00 AM -- The silver medal for unmitigated discomfort is awarded at the exact moment I bend slightly forward so I can tie my shoes.

8:00 AM -- The gold, platinum and titanium medals for unmitigated discomfort are awarded at the exact moment I try to climb out of my car when I arrive at Jalen's school. Nearly fell to the ground on that one.

And, only 48 - 72 more hours of this!


SHough610 said...

Yikes man, be careful! Though this does remind me of two stories of horrific pain I've experienced.

I lost my weight by jogging and I have OCPD (these are either very, very good in combination or very, very bad in combination). I had missed more than a few days so I went for a jog five times on MLK Day for a total of fifteen miles. And my hip was sore when I was done, no biggie. It was sore the next day but loosened up as the day went on. That night I ran a couple of times. And I don't know what happened, but that last run f'ing crippled me. I woke up barely able to limp into the bathroom where I had to lift my own leg to get it over the side of the shower/bath. I went to a doc-in-the-box where they gave me a Soma (my nurse was not a dystopic literature fan because she didn't understand my horror at being given a drug called Soma). Oh, sure, my hip still hurt after I took the soma, I just didn't care.

This other story stretches back to the summer of aught-one. We were wearing onions on our belts, as was the style at the time. And I got the most horrific stomach pain of my life. I watched Amelie that night bent into the most odd positions of my life. Then I sipped on a diet ginger-ale and read Gene Simmon's autobiography and proceeded to burp away my pain.

Feel better, Cam!

P.S.- I was going to make a joke about the A's in my tweet, but it looks like y'all might be sleepers in the AL West.

CrazyCanuck said...

All right. Me & my (thankfully gone) C-Def bug can certainly give you some sympathy now. You've earned it.

Thinking about your voice mail to Mrs. B, and remembering my own similar call to my wife, during a trip to the hospital for odd chest pains (merely the aftereffects of a bad flu bug and cough), I've come to a conclusion. There is NO way to make that call gentle and non-alarming.

Combining the words chest, pain, and hospital (or some variation of such) are a massive red flag in any relationship, no matter how you sugercoat it.

Hope this gets better fast (even if it did make for one hell of a post).

Dr. Dre (Nicka) said...

OK you can do this Cam. Get well from 1995 era Death row inmates...

in best Dr. Dre voice..

"I started this Pleurisy shit..and this the motherfuckin thanks I get?

Times are different now PCP ain't mean what did in the LBC. Nicka that's a primary care physician...not sherm so stop your dre fell off dissin"

I hope that caused you laughter and pain at the same time. Much like everyone's favorite thug poet...
"Pleurisy and hennesey got me keelin like I'm the last mother fucker (poorly) breathin."

ANd bring it home Nate

"Do remember back to the urgent care waiting room east side...where Megan saw your silk drawers x ray tears didnt care what they deeeeid... Aleve did nothing but make a G seeeick.

May the G Funk be removed from your lungs and live only in your soul.

Get well.

(SNoop) Fuck a Hallmark I just nailed that sheet.

Sabre Springs Hottie said...

Did Mrs. Bootleg mention that she got your message and still continued to each lunch with us :) I did feel her love and concern through bites of my Costco quiche!

Smitty said...

Who would have thought you would have chest pains before me?

that mexican guy said...

I think I speak for all your readers when I say: next to any Jalen-related post, the one's where you feel like you're going to die are my absolute FAVE~!!!

Plus we get some vintage "Nicka Please" in the comments? I needed to make a pot of coffee for this one. I'll try to keep it quick:

1.) Which Oakland A could you possibly be trying to compare with cartoonish amounts of power? Is Felix Jose in camp? Geronimo Berroa?

2.) Less surprising: that you're sick again or that your underwear budget is bigger than Mrs. Bootleg's?

3.) You've used that awful Master P "Make em Say Uhhh" youtube link more than once on the blog but you DON'T use it when the word "UNNGHH" actually appears IN your blog? Weird.

4.) How long before Jalen realizes he's the dominant male in the household and takes you out - a la that great Shakespearian tragedy, "WWF InVasion"?

Aaron C. said...

@Mex -- 1.) No spoilers. 2011 "30 A's in 30 Days" starts on Tuesday! 2.) No chance. The wife's panty n' bra budget dwarfs mine (see what I did there?) 3.) Too obvious. 4.) No chance [pause] that's what you've got!

@Smitty -- You'd have beat me if we'd been able to score that 50/50 burger a few weeks back.

@Hotness -- That would explain why I kept getting texts from the wife about how she was "stuck in traffic", but she's meet me at Urgent Care "soon".

@Nicka -- Read your comment last night while taking Jalen to bed. It nearly killed me from laughing. Literally.

Thanks to everyone here or on Twitter or Facebook or texts who sent well-wishes. I'm actually a little embarassed. I wasn't angling for sympathy, but I do appreciate it, kids!

Other Joe said...

Damn Cam, feel better. I don't remember much from my high school anatomy class, but I do remember my teacher explaining to us what pleurisy was and it sounded painful. At least it's only viral so you'll be done with it soon (hopefully).

And since Nicka did it, I'll add in: "With co-pay charges being what they be, it's kinda hard having muhfucking pleurisy"

thai said...

RE: smitty/chest pain . . . or me!

RE: text to mrs. bootleg . . . it's great to see that your ability to compose a message to her has not improved over the year. did this one take 3.7418 hours, too? were there comatosed thais around to kick around/step on this time?

hope you feel better soon.

but not before generating some solid blogging materials, of course.

Elena said...

For the love, Cam... I know it can be hard to come up with post topics, but please stop incubating bugs as a shortcut for your creative process. Can't you just do what other writers do and drink heavily? I promise you now, at the first sign of an ebola post I'm leaving your readership permanently.

Lew B said...

Either you're paying back some huge Karma debt, or your life is going to get so awesome that the forces of nature had to do all this to you first to keep things in balance.

(or it's all meaningless suffering)

either way, hang in there.