I'm generally not a big fan of doctors.
Sure, I have a team of top-notch Manhattan dermatologists working on retainer to preserve the luxuriant hair on my head that nourishes my sense of self-worth. And yeah, it's true that my wife and I spend so much money on our allergist that he named his last boat after us. But, in general, I tend to avoid all doctors like the plague, the IRS, and crazy ex-girlfriends.
Now, despite the fact that I have an executive desk-jockey lifestyle, I tend to only monitor my health by either checking WebMD or rifling through old issues of Men's Health when I'm on the toilet.
(By the way, anyone ever read the teaser headlines on today's health magazines? Is it me or are they written for a new generation of psychosomatics? "Toothpaste: The Silent Killer!" or "Why Popcorn Will Kill You!")
However, this past weekend, I had a scare that has frightened me into the loving arms of modern medicine.
Over the course of my Asia trip, I hadn't been feeling that great. I had some pains in my chest that usually went away after I popped some aspirin or some Pepcid AC. I figured I'd get myself thoroughly checked out when I returned. I arrived home on Thursday night and made an appointment to see my doctor on Monday.
However, on Saturday morning, the chest pains were so severe that I started freaking out. I'll level with you, my friends. I thought this was The Big One! My whole life started flashing before my very eyes. I was like an Asian Redd Foxx, grasping at my chest and telling Lamont that "this is it!"
BossLady and I immediately jumped in a taxi and headed to the nearest emergency room. Unfortunately, the closest hospital is basically a Chinatown clinic. Nothing seemed to be working. The staff literally had a hard time locating a functioning thermometer. And more importantly, none of the staff seemed to be in any hurry. It was like I was inconveniencing them because they hadn't finished their morning coffee or had a chance to work on the daily word jumble. I thought I was going to die before the asshats figured out how to spell "pumpkin!"
On a side note, I just finished reading an interesting article in The New Yorker deconstructing the state of modern criminal forensics. Basically, the piece discussed how the prevailing popularity of the C.S.I. television series has drastically altered the weight that real-life judges and juries place on forensic evidence. However, the true reality is that forensic science is, at best, still a VERY primitive field that rarely produces definitive results (the sole exception being some types of DNA testing.)
Likewise, my general view of hospitals and medicine is predicated on hours of watching ER, House, Grey's Anatomy, St.Elsewhere, and Doogie Howser. In fact, my prototypical doctor is none other than Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, the brilliant and caring physician who could always immediately cure anything from alien clap to Vulcan blue balls!
From television, I've come to believe that doctors are beautiful godlike figures who come down from Mount Stethoscope to cure our afflictions with their Hippocratic magic and absolute professionalism.
Friends, I don't know if you've been in the ER lately but nothing could be further from the truth!
After being thrown in a gown made out of tissue paper and a Wonder Bread twist, I was summarily ignored for 8 hours. Finally, despite not having any discussions with a REAL doctor, the ER staff alerted me that I was going to be admitted overnight. No explanations. No further testing. No nothing!
Since we were all in a sheer panic, my parents called a family friend who is one of the top diagnosticians in Manhattan. He immediately called me and told me to discharge myself immediately. I believe his exact words were, "You live in a city that has 2 or 3 of the best hospitals in the entire country. You're having chest pains. What the fuck are you waiting for? A tunnel with some light at the end of it? Get your ass up to Mt. Sinai immediately!"
By the time I got uptown, the ER staff had already been alerted to my arrival. I was immediately given a new EKG. Blood was drawn and sent to the lab. And arrangements were made for a full cardio-pulmonary cat scan.
For three whole days, I was poked, prodded, scanned, and examined. The good news is that my pains don't seem to have been cardiac-related. The bad news is that they can't figure out what's causing them. Nor can they figure out what's causing the release of certain enzymes in my blood. Not the most reassuring news but not the worst thing to hear either.
Today, I'm generally feeling better. I'm a little weak from all the blood that's been drawn from me and I'm exhausted from being woken up every 3 hours. However, I'm gladder than hell to be back home with BossLady and the Peanut.
Those of you who have been coming here for awhile know that I'm pretty much a "carpe diem" kind of guy. I have an enthusiastic love of life and I don't want to leave this world anytime soon. However, when you're hooked up to an EKG and your wife and daughter are sitting by your hospital bedside, you tend to remember that life is a gift more fleeting than the career of the Pussy Cat Dolls.
And you realize that you can't truly enjoy the ride when warning lights keep flashing on the dashboard.
So hopefully, it'll turn out that the raw blowfish I had in a Hong Kong sushi bar is playing games with my nervous system. Or maybe I'm just allergic to lychee martinis. Either way, I remain confident that my doctors will figure it all out sooner or later.
I'll bet their last boat on it.
I'll keep you posted on my status but thanks for all the e-mails concerning my absence. I love the fact that you all treat me like the old lady who lives next door. If you don't see her for awhile, you knock on her door to make sure she's not trapped under something heavy or hasn't been attacked by the cats. Y'all are good people, yo! I also promise to answer as many mailbag questions as I can this week. Some of them had me laughing my ass off...proving once again that my readers are the coolest, nicest, weirdest, smartest, and geekiest people around. God bless!