The floor reached out for me, pulling me down with alarming force. I fought to remain upright, waves of nausea weakening my resolve. One hand flew to my brow – now a pool of sweat – while the other searched for the phone.
I’m calling 9-1-1, I texted my husband.
“Stay with us, V.J.!” the paramedic yelled.
I was down a well, the watery walls garbling his words, my words. Couldn’t he see that I didn’t have the strength to answer?
I’d been fighting a throbbing ache in my jaw all night, finally caving at 4:20 am when I arose in search of pain killers. Suddenly restless, I decided to stay up, and tackle my planned chores early.
I stripped the bed, did a full cycle of wash and had breakfast before the attack occurred. A vision of my grandmother on her final day flashed through my mind. She had been at a Judo lesson and lay down when she got home, saying she wasn’t feeling well. She never got up again.
I can’t lay down, I told myself. I was certain I would die.
“Your blood work is fine,” the resident informed me. “Maybe take some baby aspirin, and something for the pain, and we’ll refer you to Urgent Care.”
I didn’t hear anything again for weeks, and by that time – the crisis behind me – I decided I would not pursue it further.
“To be quite honest,” I told the scheduler who eventually called, “I am tired of doctors, who knowing nothing about my disease, dismiss me. I’ve seen my share of cardiologists in the past and I have no desire to submit myself to that again.”
“Well, the doctor is not just a cardiologist and he is a good listener. He won’t give up that easily.”
“Is he open to any information I might bring?”
“He is. Bring along whatever you have.”
So, here I go again: patient as educator.