I thought it was stress…

It all started with a little stitch of pain between my right shoulder blade and my spine. You’ve had that haven’t you. One of those little stress pains one gets when the work piles up and the deadlines approach and you’re looking at the clock and you know there’s no way to get it all done. And you’re thinking about who’s going to be mad or disappointed when things fall through. (I think the disappointment is the worst. They don’t even express it, but you can see it in their eyes…)

So, I understood the problem and figured that as soon as the deadlines pass and I’m on vacation– I am going to be good to go.

But I wasn’t. In fact, the pain seemed worse on the drive to the airport. Hey, it must be travel stress, right. I pushed on, though doing all the security stuff– unloading the laptop, taking off shoes, getting the carry on onto the conveyor belt– all of that was much harder with that pain growing in the background.

On the plane it was really a trick to get the carry on in the overhead bin. (Why do they call it a bin anyway? Isn’t it more of a shelf with a door on it?) And then the flight! Pretty hard to stretch out to find some way to relieve this nagging pain right between the shoulder blades. The curve of the tight seat seemed only to aggravate things.

“Just breathe,” I told myself, “just breathe.” Well, that was odd. Why was I holding my breath anyway? Breathing didn’t hurt. But the pain just made you want to, say, brace yourself or something. “Perhaps I can just sleep through it,” I said, willing myself to fall asleep.

When I awoke, it was still there. Not as sharp mind you, that was a relief. But the dull ache was still there. “Ah, it is just stress,” I thought. A day or so off with my family and it will all go away.

We made the connecting flights and got the rental car without any real incident. Or, at least no incident that pushed its way past my consciousness of my pain. I nodded, smiled, and answered all questions with what I thought were appropriate answers. At least, no one stared at me oddly, so I must be keeping up the proper appearances. It wasn’t until I loaded the suitcases into the rental that I winced, prompting my wife Linda to ask, “Are you all right?” I shrugged, “Not really, I got this pain in the middle of my back.”

Her brow knit with concern. “How long have you had it?” I explained that it had gone on most of the week, but I was sure it was just stress and would quickly dissolve as my body relaxed on our time off. I then put sucked it up and put on a pleasant face (or so I thought) and tried to make the best of it.

I must have done pretty well since neither my daughters or my son-in-laws sensed that anything was wrong.

I must have done pretty well since neither my daughters or my son-in-laws sensed that anything was wrong.

That night on the Air Bed in the guest room, I tried to find a comfortable position for sleeping. As I lay on my back I noticed a new pain, a throbbing around my right elbow.  To take care of my back pain, I put a small pillow under my back between my shoulder blades. Again I willed myself to sleep.

It lasted about two hours. I was awakened by increased pain in my elbow and I realized that it was actually radiating down from my shoulder along the inside of my upper arm and down to the elbow. Weird. Never had this before. I rolled onto my side and pinned the offending arm under my body and went back to sleep.

Monday morning I woke up and found the pain in the back was more pronounced and that familiar companion was now joined with the aching arm. I started the day wondering, “How big a deal should I make of this?”

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3 Responses to I thought it was stress…

  1. CAS says:

    Good beginning and middle of a story, but there’s no end. What ever came of it?

  2. Christopher Barnes says:

    Sorry, here goes the next episode.

  3. Jeffrey says:

    so, was it a heart attack or what?

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