I clinically died on my honeymoon.
Is that the right phrase? "clinically died"? Sounds like I died in a clinic, which I almost did. I'm not sure that is the phrase I am looking for. Maybe "legally died"? "Officially died"? I don't know... I died; I saw the light and God told me that my work here was not done.
Ah, maybe it is "clinically depressed" that I am thinking of? If that is the case, I died - so that is worse than being depressed. It was like being depressed and then dying, without being depressed.
San Fransisco is a lovely place for a honeymoon. We paid visits to museums, rode the trolley and enjoyed a romantic evening on the wharf. (I think they call it the "wharf" because that is what I do to the food I buy there. I love me some good seafood)
The next day, we paid a visit to Chinatown and walked to Broadway to watch a matinee performance of "Phantom". While sitting in the the air conditioned concert hall, I felt a strange, painful sensation in my chest, right around my heart. My heart was in pain, and it had nothing to do with Christine. As the show continued, the pain seemed to worsen and soon I was clutching my chest, praying that I would not die in a theater like unto my namesake and hero, Mr. Abe Lincoln.
That night was horrible. Laying down seemed to increase the pain, as did sitting straight up. The only thing that seemed to help was sitting folded over, with my chest touching my knees.
I wanted to live! I had just gotten married two days earlier. This was too soon. I knew that dying on your mission gave you a free pass straight to heaven, but I wasn't so sure about dying on your honeymoon. I was not optimistic.
I told Cathi it would be okay if she remarried.
The next morning, I felt much better, almost 100%. We had tickets on the ferry to go to Artichoke Island - the place with the ancient prison and the headphoned tour. Feeling as though my heart attack had passed, I energetically headed for the door.
If you have been to Antelope Island, you know that you are required to make a short hike up to the actual prison. Normally, this is a piece of cake and I would be able to bound up the trail like a gazelle on speed. Not on this day. This day, I may have made it 50 yards. I remember laying on a park bench, moaning in agony while the elderly and handicapped passed me. I specifically recall a man that had to be in his seventies stop and ask if we needed any help.
This was it for me, I just knew it. At least I would die somewhere really cool and Cathi would have a story to share. "He died on the banks of Anarchy Island that day. It was overcast and cool, but it was the bay that took his soul... the bay. In the waning minutes of his life, he looked up at me and mumbled, 'Twas... the best three days... of my life.' He passed before the Ranger could even start the golf cart."
Fortunately, my heart kept beating. We returned directly to the hotel, where we spent the rest of the day in the solitude of our hotel room, praying for a miracle.
I spoke to Cathi about getting my will in order. I would be leaving her all the worldly possessions I had aquired up to that day: my baseball card collection and my Pinewood Derby trophies.
The night started out okay, but at approximately 2:00 in the morning, the pain radiated through my entire chest. It felt as though Big Buddha was doing a stair master workout on my breastbone. I told Cathi to call an ambulance. Being the practical budgeteer that she is, she called a cab.
We told the cab drive to take us to the nearest hospital. Apparently, he had to go around the same block 6 times to get there. He then drove us into what had to be the poorest slum in all of San Fransisco. This place was so poor, young boys from India were dropping through the bottom of outhouses just to catch a glimps of us. The driver dropped us off at the front doors of an all night clinic... not a hospital... not an ER... a clinic.
It would have to do. By this time, my heart was sure to explode into fragments so tiny they would not be able to sew it back together for my viewing. We went through the doors, filled out some papers and waited. (By the way, when I say "my viewing" I mean when people come look at your dead boy. I did not mean to imply that I wanted to actually see my sewn up heart. That would be just gross... and impractical)
It was during this time that I think I died. I say that I think I died because I don't remember anything about our waiting in that waiting room. I must have passed out and then died! I would have had some recollection otherwise. When you pass on and you are on heaven's doorstep, your brain shuts down and your memory is erased. I don't exactly remember God telling me that my work is done or the actual white light for that matter. Nevertheless, I MUST still be here for a reason... I would think. God knew it just wasn't my time.
After getting a few chest X-rays and some other tests done, I was ready for the news. How much time did I have? Days? Hours? Minutes? The Doctor emerged from behind the curtain to tell us the news. (The Doctor apparently was also the wonderful Wizard of Oz)
The verdict... pleurisy. No idea what that was.
I soon learned that pleurisy is an infection of the lining of your lungs. Essentially, a bunch of gunky gunk gets caught up in the lining of your lungs because of an infection. The pain is so severe, that it has developed the nickname "The Devils Grip" - I am not kidding. It's awful. (Tammy, I am sure you can vouch for this) In other words:
Pleurisy, also called pleuritis, is an inflammation of the pleura, which is the moist, double-layered membrane that surrounds the lungs and lines the rib cage. The condition can make breathing extremely painful.
The doc gave me some medication and I went home - grateful to still be alive.
Cathi, in the meantime, already knew me too well and understood the entire time that I was blowing it all way out of proportion.
I learned that night to never take life for granted. I had been to the other side and the other side had vomited me back up. I was Jonah and God was my whale. Well, more appropriately: I was more like that lying jerk, Pinocchio and God was my Monstro. I promised myself from that moment on that I would live like I was dying, unless dying involved massive, incredible chest pain that cripples stifles every ounce of energy and paralyzes your will to live.
(I will also not "live like I am dying" if it involves listing to that awful Tim McGraw song.)
Cheeseboy's Life Lessons for a Happy Life
Life Lesson #1 - The art of the dance. Lesson #2 - Run like the wind. Lesson #3 - Say or do anything for a laugh. Lesson #4 - Listen to a lot of REO Speedwagon and frequent the Little Caesars lobby to find true love. #5 - Eat cheese fries. #6 - Stay off treadmills and marry someone smarter than yourself. #7 - Live like you were dying (Of a fake heart attack)
PS A year later I developed the same crippling pain. This time, my doctor stuck an elephant needle in my back and sucked out every ounce of lung gunk. It hurt like heck, but as soon as they were done, it was like I was as good as new. My doctor thought I must have an underlying condition causing the lung infects and did countless tests. They all came back negative (that is good) and I was free and clear of any problems. I have not had pleurisy since, but is it any wonder I am a hypochondriac?
PPS Now that I have my life lessons, I really should write a book now entitled, "Cheeseboy's Seven Habbits of Highly Semi-Sucessful People Making $30,000 a Year." I'm sure it would be #1 on Amazon in days.