If you asked me on October 11, 2012 how I felt, I would have probably told you I was at the top of my game. Family was great, new job was opening all of the creative doors it had promised, I was working out regularly and I was happy. Perhaps I was more tired than usual, had a little insomnia, complained of a sore mouth/tongue at times, popped a bit more Extra Strength Tylenol these days, and my forgetfulness was becoming a running joke – but other than that, fantastic! Good friends were appearing in concert nearby and it was a great opportunity for a little road trip with my dear friend and travel buddy Joan – an overnight of good food and drink, music, and hotel sleep.
It was a much needed getaway – dinner was lovely, The Midtown Men were amazing, and a long night’s sleep seemed to be exactly what I needed. We started out the next day in high spirits for a little time in NYC before heading home and that is where my excitement unfolded. I was standing in a place of complete happiness when it began - in Tribeca, holding a Laughing Man latte, picking up Sandalwood Vanille Acquiesse candles at Stella. For me this is a personal trifecta! It started as a weird pain in right in the center of my chest at the base of my breast bone, a feeling that everything was tightening and wouldn’t release. If you’ve ever had spasm or cramping in your leg or toe – it was like that. It wasn’t heartburn, it wasn’t in my stomach, it was something I had never felt before. I kept telling myself just to breathe through it and it would pass. Focus on the candles, focus on the candles……
Next, when the spasm would begin it started to travel up my neck into my lower jaw. A very distinct and specific path that was so excruciating it hurt my bottom molars. That’s when I heard the voice that I knew to take seriously – it was Oprah. Specifically Oprah discussing the very unique symptoms women have when experiencing a heart attack. I just kept hearing her repeat “radiating to the jaw”, and thinking this is not happening to me. If you ever have heard stories of people in the throes of a medical emergency doing ridiculous things you probably, like me, thought “what an idiot, who could possibly be that stupid?” – I was and I know now why it is done. Denial. Denial that this could possibly be happening to you, denial that it could possibly be that serious, denial that you may die. Stupid is one of my least favorite words (along with hate and boring), but in this case the only words that could possibly describe my actions are utter stupidity.
I continued buying my candles, the more normal I acted the more normal things will be. I mentioned in passing to Joan, who is in the medical field, that I had a weird pain. I refused aspirin because, due to a previous surgery, cannot take NSAIDS – but did accept a TUMS. Joan suggested going to an ER – I insisted it would pass, dropped her at her train, and drove home via the West Side Highway to The Saw Mill to The Taconic. Called my doctor somewhere around Pleasantville to ask if I should check this out, was told to go to the ER. Drove home and mentioned calmly to my husband that I wasn’t feeling great and was going to the hospital – taking myself. He looked at me incredulously and drove me to the hospital. I believe the whole way I was explaining to him how this really wouldn’t be a big deal.
That last paragraph is humiliating to write, and embarrassment is the reason I haven’t written about this until now. In hindsight I cannot believe I did all of those things that were so irresponsible, and unsafe for me and for others. Denial can make an educated, common sense laden, pro active person a lunatic. The only thing I can say in hindsight is that I was so afraid I was dying I just wanted to make it not be happening.
Part II: When you enter an emergency room you know how serious you are by how quickly you are taken care of, apparently I was in a pretty serious place.