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WARNING: Chest pain is a serious life or death matter. If you’re experiencing chest pain right now, don’t waste any time reading this article — get yourself to a hospital.Back to top
Initial signs and symptoms of my pericarditis
On Sunday, November 3, 2019, I had just finished lunch, looked at the clock, and saw that I could fit in about an hour of work before the Denver Broncos game started. Despite Denver’s 2-6 record, I was looking forward to see how Broncos’ quarterback Brandon Allen would do in his first career start following Joe Flacco’s neck injury.
A minute later I had severe chest pain. It wasn’t in the middle of my chest, but it was on the left side of the left chest/breast area. To the best of my memory, I went from feeling perfectly fine to having severe pain in a matter of moments.
June 2, 2016: I don’t think my chest is as hairy as Steve Carell’s, but I got three chest-waxings at the hospital last week, and it is really, really painful. (They put the heart monitor leads on, take them off, put them back on, etc.) Someone told me Mr. Carell did this for real for the movie. If so, wow, that’s dedication.
Notes from September 24, 2016:
Doctor: I’d like to collect a bone marrow sample ...
*Al runs out of the hospital in a hospital gown, screaming like a little girl*
(later, after they caught me)
Doctor: The next time you break out in a rash, hives, or blisters, I want you to have those biopsied.
Me: Is there going to be any part of our relationship that doesn’t involve a lot of pain on my part?
Me: The crazy one?
“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”
~ Mother Teresa
“To know love, be like the running brook, which deaf, yet sings its melody for others to hear. Feel the pain of too much tenderness. Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for yet another day of loving.”
~ Kung Fu
While laying in the hospital bed after my recent surgery, a young nurse came into my room and asked what my pain level was, on a range from zero to ten.
I replied that it wasn’t bad at all, maybe a one or two at most, and I didn’t need any pain medicine.
She said that was great. She said that a lot of people immediately say they’re at a nine or ten.
I replied that I’d never say anything that high, I always thought a nine or ten should be saved for something really bad, like if you were just stabbed or shot.
She said, “I know, right. Or maybe broken bones ... or a heart attack.” She paused and then said, “Lately I’ve been wondering if giving birth is a 9 or 10.”
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever Gods may be,
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance,
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance,
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears,
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years,
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
These days I generally feel very good, but as I go through some of these medical treatments they can make me feel pretty miserable, especially when combined with the effects of the MCAS. During times like that I usually just meditate in bed or in a recliner, generally not thinking about anything, just breathing, letting the inside and outside become one. I do this almost all of the time.
But other times when I can’t do that for one reason or another, I started to create a little “feel good” list to reflect on. This is something that when I’m not feeling well and I can’t meditate, it helps to remind me that life has generally been very good to me. I think about various things, all of the favorite times I’ve had in my life, meeting my wife, playing baseball, all of the dogs, good vacations, fun with friends, etc.
One thing I hadn’t thought about in a long time that came to mind recently was that when I was 32 years old I worked for a company I called the Evil Empire, and something good happened on my last day there. (That wasn’t their real name, but some of the owners of that company inspired me to give it that name.)
“We should think and feel over and over: ‘May the suffering that this being and many others are experiencing cease, along with its causes. I will do everything I can to free them from this pain.’”
That’s from this tweet by Tulku Thondup.
I have to be honest, I can’t feel this for my loud downstairs neighbor here at the Terracina apartments. The only nice thing I can currently pray for is for him to move. I’m trying to work on that, but when someone plays their music so loud that your floor vibrates and your kitchen range rattles, it’s hard to think about his suffering and pain. (Just being honest about how I feel today.)
Thanks to some ongoing abdominal pain from my colectomy surgery back in June, I’ve learned what a Trocar device is. Per Wikipedia (and also my surgeon), “Trocars are placed through the abdomen during laparoscopic surgery. The trocar functions as a portal for the subsequent placement of other instruments, such as graspers, scissors, staplers, etc.”
I have pain in the spot where a trocar device was placed, and the theory is that’s because of a combination of scar tissue and a nerve in that area. A backup possibility is that I may have a hernia in that spot, though the surgeon thinks that’s unlikely. I’ll be having a CT scan soon to see if that shows what’s going on.