Driving home from Philadelphia Tuesday, I became afflicted with, attacked by, stricken, or otherwise beset with a stabbing pain in my lower chest. Think of Patrick Troughton (right) in The Omen getting shiskabobbed by a lightening rod. When I finally pulled the van into the driveway, I literally couldn't manage to get out of the driver's seat. The other 50% of the agony was that I picked up a head cold, and every time I coughed or sneezed, it shot through me like a shotgun blast.
I decided to inaugurate the first official day of ObamaCare with a trip to the emergency room. It didn't disappoint. Four hours and untold thousands of dollars later, I was sent home, after being told it wasn't gall bladder, gall stones, kidney stones, shingles, a heart attack or cancer.
My doctor loves it when I show up. I don't bring him simple, time wasting stuff. No, I always drop in with a case of head-scratching unusualness. And this one was a true poser. More x-rays and another CT scan still showed nothing definitive. Only that it wasn't a blot clot, either.
The diagnosis now is pleurisy. it's one of those quaint old Victorian ailments (like my goiter a few years back) that no one seems to get anymore, and so nobody really looks for it. It's caused by an inflammation in the membrane around the lungs (called the pleura) that keeps the lungs from rubbing up against the bones of the rib cage. Sometimes the pleura can just get punched around and irritated, like a Democrat senator at a Tea Party town hall meeting, or it can fill up with fluid, like a Republican senator at a cash bar fundraiser, which results in a downright bizarre collection of wheezes, whines and gurgles when you try to breathe deeply. When it does both. it feels like pneumonia, but with the added thrills of constant, doubled-over, scream-inducing pain that makes you look and sound like an ill-fated cast extra in the 300 Spartans.
So, I'm on a cocktail of pure codeine (can't take it buffered with Tylenol), which puts me on the FDA criminal watch list since it gets treated like yellow cake uranium by the Feds, and an obscure anti-inflammatory steroid of the sort that makes the poodle pee on the floor and hump the footstool. So far, it's only given me really vivid dreams in which I am some sort of accomplice in a gangster movie. But at least I am back to feeling normalish for the first time this week.