“I could go at anytime. There’s nothing safe about this life.” (Neil Finn, Anytime).

After yesterday’s sight seeing ride, I spent about two hours on the deck in the sun. Then I went to a concert at the Birchmere. Sweet Honey in the Rock was very entertaining. Four vocalists and an ASL singer with a bassist in the background. I say ASL singer because she was an integral part of the performance. At one point she signed a duet with a vocalist. It was really fascinating and a blast to watch. There seemed to be several deaf people in the audience and lots of deaf clapping at the end of songs.

We arrived home at 10. As I readied for bed I felt kind of worn out from being in the sun and the concert. I went to bed and couldn’t get comfortable. At about 1 am, I had a sharp pain in my upper right chest when I rolled over. For 15 minutes I waited, breathed as calmly as I could, and hoped it would go away. No luck.

I have had bronchitis – by my own diagnosis – for weeks and when I started to cough the dagger pain in my chest got much worse. Since I couldn’t sleep, I got out of bed and did the Sunday crossword .When I stood up afterwards, the pain came back. I googled “heart attack symptoms.” I didn’t seem to be having one but there are always tales of heart attacks that defy the norms. I recalled how a former co-worker of mine ignored his chest pain and flew to a conference. He deplaned to transfer at an airport in North Carolina. He didn’t make the connecting flight.

I took three baby aspirin, waited another 20 minutes, then went back to bed. Then the daggers came back in waves as I tried to lie down. My mind raced. I have so many things on tap for the next three weeks! This can’t be happening! The google search said, “Don’t drive to the ER. Call 911. That will get you immediate care and let you skip the screening at the ER desk.”

This last dagger caused me to yelp. Mrs. Rootchopper immediately awoke (how she slept through the earlier bits I’ll never know). Rolled over and called 911. I dressed and went downstairs. As I was putting on my sandals, the EMTs arrived in 2 – 3 minutes. It pays to live a half mile from the fire station.

Once in the ambulance I was poked and cuffed and scanned. My brain started recalling the near panic attack I had the only other time I rode in an ambulance. I felt like the world was spinning out of control.

“Everything is in the balance of a moment I can’t control.” (Neil Finn, Anytime).

I felt like crying, then I took a couple of deep breaths and calmed down. This is the best place in the world for me at this moment. Just go with it. For the rest of the ride I was joking with the crew.

At theIMG_0031 ER (Inova Mount Vernon Hospital) I was given a second EKG (the EMTs gave me one on the way). I had blood drawn. The news was that I had no sign of a heart attack or pneumonia. In fact my cardio vascular signs were pretty darn good. My white blood cell level was elevated and it was obvious that I was breathing and talking softly. The diagnosis was that one of my coughing fits caused an internal injury and that my bronchitis, as long lasting as it has been, was probably caused by an infection. I was hooked up to a nebulizer which made my lungs feel great. Then sent home with only minor lingering discomfort.
I took three Advils for breakfast and fell sound asleep at 7 am. Four hours later I woke up and got out of bed without the daggers. I ate some antibiotics and some healthful donuts.


So began Bike to Work Week with a DNS (did not start) on my dance card. At least I missed out on the near-record low temperatures and biting headwind.

“Fear is so contagious, but I’m not afraid to laugh.” (Neil Finn, Anytime).