© 2007 CHRIS MIKSANEK
So I'm driving back
from Arby’s with one hand on the wheel and the other
on a potato cake when I feel this crushing pain in my
Now, you would think in that instant a
hundred thoughts go though your mind. I had just one.
I really needed to go to the bathroom, but I didn’t
want to because that’s how they found Elvis.
that’s not entirely true. I was also cracking wise to
myself mumbling, “this is the big one, Elizabeth.”
So convinced that I was about to join Fred Sanford's
wife, I slow down and actually take account of the
mess I am leaving behind: the coffee pot is on, my
wife doesn’t know my PINs, and I would never get to
make amends for the lie I told my grandmother years
prior when I said her Holupki was delicious -- in
fact, I had hidden it under a half-eaten dumpling
when her back was turned.
In short, I'm thinking
about dying and not living; which is not good,
because as long as I am behind the wheel, the former
is a lot more likely than the latter.
I push on
towards home where I decide either to ride-out the
symptoms or to meet my maker on my own terms (on the
sofa, with the remote in my hand).
An hour passes
and the pain subsides. Nonetheless, in what will be
the only rational response I have during the entire
episode, I check-in at the local urgent care facility
where I'm told:
a) my symptoms were likely a
result of a flu I was just getting over, and,
that I'm a reckless fool for toughing-out the chest
pains behind the wheel of a two ton SUV.
turns out, driving through a myocardial infarction is
not a good idea at all. So what should you do when
your hands are at ten- and two-o'clock and you feel
those pangs of imminent death coming on?
as soon as possible, the experts say, and dial 911 if
you have a cell phone. Or pull into the nearest
location where you might find assistance: a service
station, restaurant, or hotel, for instance.
“Drive yourself only as a last resort,” says
mayoclinic.com, “because it puts you and others at
risk if your condition suddenly worsens.”
Above all, don’t delay and don't self-assess. Even if
you can Google your symptoms with your BlackBerry,
there are many causes of chest pain ranging from
panic attacks to pancreatitis.
Leave the diagnosis
to the experts.
Get off the road and get help.
And call your grandmother to tell her you’re sorry.
It’s never too late.