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Tuesday, July 11, 2000

I came very close to asking for help in the middle of the night. If you know me, you know I must have been hurting badly for the thought even to cross my mind. Then this afternoon, I actually made a call that could have led to seeing a doctor, if there had been something other than a dead-end answering machine at the other end of the line. A live person, for example.

It started late last night, just before I went to bed. I guess I've been feeling stressed out and run down for a few days now, but suddenly I felt as if I had a basketball lodged in my throat. I thought it might be indigestion, a somewhat worse case than the usual, but Tums had no effect.

Whatever it was, it wouldn't let me lie down without serious pain. Dark thoughts go through your head in the middle of the night when you can't find a position that will let you sleep. I finally realized that I had to sit up, so I piled pillows up to rest my back, with an extra one to support my head, so that I wouldn't keep jerking myself awake when I finally did nod off. This arrangement bought me about three hours' sleep.

The worst part of all this was how difficult it was to breathe. It was as if I was sucking knives into my throat with every breath. That scared me, but it was better when I got up this morning. I still had some discomfort, but it wasn't bad all the time and I was able to get some work done. Then I went crazy and ran some errands, and that's when I started gasping again.

When I got back home, I got out my new insurance card. The HMO had dropped the medical group that my doctor belonged to, so I called the phone number on the new card to see where I could go. After about ten rings I got a message that the staff was in a meeting and I should call back in an hour. No beep, so no chance for me to leave a message.

It was hard enough for me to make that call once. After I hung up I planted myself on the sofa and didn't move for an hour. The relief was so great that I determined I could give it another day before deciding if I needed to make that call again. Apparently rest helps. Who knew? So I stayed in place, immobile, for most of the rest of the evening.

Whether I'll end up at the lake this weekend is doubtful at this point. I'm probably better of staying home and resting. The prospect of a four-hour drive is intimidating, even considering the rest and relaxation waiting at the end of it.

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