Friday, April 07, 2006

A Cardiac Event

I was in Birmingham on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week because I was supposed to be giving a reading and doing a talk as pert of the Red Mountain Review Reading series. When I met my guide the night before the reading he handed me a big fat check, and I sort of joked about it and said something like, you shouldn't pay me because I haven't done anything yet.

Well. As fate would have it, I ended up not giving my reading or meeting with students and faculty. Instead, I woke at 5:00 am with chest pains.

First I thought it was food poisoning. Then I thought maybe I was just nervous and stressed (my job has been a true pain in the ass these last few weeks.) Then I was sweating, hunched over, shaking, racked with spasms of pain in my chest, all while alternating between cold water running in the bathtub and the fetal position on the bathroom floor.

Long story short--I called 911. And they came--the firemen and paramedics--their sirens and equipment clogging up the street in front of the hotel. When they arrived I REALLY freaked out, as I hate doctirs and emergencies. My blood pressure was 200/110, I still couldn't breath or stop shaking, and they insisted that I was going to the hospital.

So I went. The docs didn't know what to do with me besides to take a few chest xrays (blood clot in the lung?) do blood work again and again (looking for cardiac enzymes) and hook me to an EKG machine.

I was like this all day. In the hosital, alone. I missed the reading. I missed the talk after the reading. I sat there remembering my father, who's life ended on December 8, 2001. He was alone in a Birmingham hospital.

So, my blood says I didn't have a "cardiac event." They turned me loose (fucking finally) at around 3:00 pm. There I was, walking the streets of downtown Birmingham in my pajamas and a pair of Birkenstocks, headed in the wrong direction. I found a cab, and that blessed and extremely fat man got me to the hotel in about three minutes.

I didn't take a shower or make a phone call. I brushed my teeth, threw my shit in my bag, and got in my car so I could get home to my people who were worried sick and in the planning stages of a rescue operation.

I drove in warp speed, stopping once at the Waffle House for three cups of coffee, a pecan waffle, hashbrowns scattered, smothered, and covered, and a bowl of cheese grits. I think it was the cheese grits that saved me.


At 12:19 PM, Blogger Mary said...

Holy hell, Alison! I wish I'd known. Birmingham is only 3 hours away and I was on spring break. If it wasn't a cardiac event, what was it?

At 2:52 AM, Blogger Suzanne said...

Jeezus, Alison. I can't believe you drove yourself home! I hope your feeling better.

At 10:12 PM, Blogger Brian said...

Me too. I was just going to say that I have a cas of nerves because I'm being observed by a member of the Writing Committee this week, and the class is reading "Squeezers." I'll let you know how they like it, but I'm betting it'll be a hit.


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