A night or two at the hospital

Here’s one of those life experiences not worth going through. I’ve been in the hospital the past two days. Severe pains in the neck, chest and back two nights ago led to an ambulance call and a night in a crowded emergency room.

Ended up at a university hospital, which meant going through a list of  repeated questions from interns, residents, students and specialists. Got poked with assorted needles, turned into a pin cushion for blood samples, was X-rayed then later scanned behind a door that said nuclear medicine. Answered more questions from more doctors.

Spent 14 hours in the emergency room, where sufferers of every possible disaster gather: homeless people, who don’t know where they are; old people unable to breathe; drunks from car accidents who, as a matter of routine are asked “do you have suicidal thoughts.”

I listened behind a curtain as a 91 year old former Hungarian general with chest pains told a Vietnamese ultrasound technician how resourceful the Vietnamese when he was helping build roads during the war. Both decried the evils of Communism. The general, whose aide said had once been sentenced to death by the communists was asked by a nurse if he had suicidal thoughts. “Of course not. I love myself.”

This sounds interesting in retrospect, but when your sitting on a gurney and your chest feels like it will explode if you breathe too deeply, the only really interesting thing is who’s going to make the pain go away.

Got out of the emergency room, and spent a day in a hospital bed for the first time ever. More tests, x-rays and blood drawn.

And the diagnosis? No idea. No blood clots. No cancer. No pneumonia. Nothing broken. According to the results, I’m healthy.

Best guess: it might be pleurisy, an inflammation around the lungs that results in severe chest pains. They’re saying I can leave today.

It’s a good thing I have health insurance. The co-pay isgoing to be a bear. But a more definitive diagnosis would have been nice.