Last Wednesday, I had a near-death experience.
As I faded from consciousness and started to slip into the great unknown, I was suddenly pulled into a bright, white tunnel of light. And at the end of the tunnel there were several figures waving to me. They weren’t completely clear, but I’m pretty sure they were members of the boy band O-Town, urging me to join them at the Mohegan Sun Casino and Resort.
But I refused, for I was not yet ready to pass from this life, even though going to one of the largest, most spectacular entertainment, gaming, dining and shopping destinations in the United States was tempting.
Nah, I’m just funnin’ with you.
I was nowhere near death (or a casino), but I did feel bad enough that my wife, Mary, insisted on taking me to a doc-in-a-box – for the second time in five days.
The “adventure” started last weekend when my back began to ache.
That morning I had walked several miles and done some yard work, and I just figured maybe I pulled a muscle or something.
By afternoon the pain increased dramatically, and spread to my stomach.
And this wasn’t the garden variety stomach ache – you know, the kind where it hisses and growls and occasionally speaks in unknown tongues. This was a sharp, almost continuous pain that caused me to double over.
Mary started researching what my malady might be. Even though the pain was in my back and stomach, it could be my heart, gallbladder, kidneys, any number of things.
There was also the chance that an alien had embedded itself in my stomach and was prepared to burst out John Hurt-style, but it’s been months since I’ve had close contact with extraterrestrials, so I quickly discounted that as an option.
Whatever it was, she ushered me into the car and began driving toward the clinic. Long story short, the clinic was closed, but by the time we got there I felt better anyway, and we decided to head home.
The more I thought about it, the more I was sure it was just a case of gas gone nuclear and would never happen again.
Man, was I ever wrong.
It happened again mid-week, and this time we went to a bigger, better (and more importantly, open) doc-in-the-box.
It’s no exaggeration to say the pain I felt was the worst I’ve ever experienced. So much so that after doing X-rays and performing an electrocardiogram test, the doctor actually had to give me a pain-relieving shot before sending me to the emergency room.
That’s when my day got markedly worse.
I was told the minute I got to the ER I was to see a certain doctor, who would immediately set up a CAT scan. That was fine with me, because I love animals.
But the CAT scan didn’t come until after I had been there for five hours – and after a nurse had used my left arm for target practice trying to draw blood. In retrospect, I don’t think he was a nurse at all, but just a random dude who happened upon some blue scrubs, showed up, and clocked in.
He and the staff also insisted on redoing all the tests that had already been done at the doc-in-a-box a couple of hours earlier, even though the paperwork I presented told them specifically not to do that.
This caused Mary to curse.
She cursed out of earshot of my tormentors, but she cursed eloquently and with great conviction.
It’s one of the reasons I love her.
Once the crew finally got their shit together, they gave me another shot for pain, put me on an IV, and administered an ultrasound test. They looked at my liver, gallbladder, appendix, and, I suppose, whatever else lurked beneath the surface.
By the end of my seven hour odyssey you know what they found?
I mean, they found all the organs, but they just couldn’t pinpoint the problem.
Kidney stones were ruled out, and they couldn’t be sure my gall bladder or appendix were causing the pain.
They just told me to follow up with my primary care physician, gave me a prescription for Hillbilly Heroin, and then sent me on my way.
I was puzzled – and concerned.
I eat healthy foods (mostly, except for Pop-Tarts), I exercise (usually, unless I’d rather sit around and eat Pop-Tarts) and my weight is under control (give or take 15 or 20 pounds … and the availability of Pop-Tarts).
But then I realized that some people in the best of health die unexpectedly.
Look at Roger Bannister. He was the first man to break the four-minute mile and was in tip-top physical condition. Yet, he passed away recently.
He was 88, but still.
Finally, my “regular” doctor looked me over on Thursday and sent me to a gastroenterologist, who set up an MRI on Friday that proved negative.
On Monday I’ll have something called a HIDA scan in which a radioactive tracer is injected into a vein in my arm. My only hope at this point is that during the procedure, I’ll be bitten by a spider and thus became a superhero.
I think after all this nonsense, I’ve earned it.