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!