Coming face-to-face with my mortality – one step at a time
By TABITHA CLARK
Daily News Staff
When I was young, I thought I was invincible. My car could never go too fast and my food could never be too greasy. I mean, come on, only “old” people died, right?
You’d think that after seeing my friends picked off in high school, either from car wrecks or suicide, my mind would change – and it did, to a point. I kept my foot out of the oil pan, but I continued to eat really “bad for you” foods like fast food and other junk.
This didn’t get any better after a failed marriage and depression. At one point in my life, I could eat an entire 20-piece nugget, large fry and Big Mac from McDonalds – in one sitting. Food was my comfort. It never let me down, and it was always there.
Besides, why did I have to worry about my mortality, right? I’m the healthiest morbidly obese person I know. I’ve never had very high blood pressure or cholesterol. I don’t have diabetes. I don’t have a high resting heart rate. Who cares if my weight reached into the 300s? I was fit as a fiddle – or, maybe a cello.
Of course, I get winded after coming up one flight of stairs. My knee will go out on me if I stand too long. Oh, and if I sit in one position for too long (meaning 5-10 minutes), one of my appendages may go numb. But, that’s normal, right?
Cut back to Sunday night, Jan. 20, 2013. I started to have little stabbing pains in my chest. They continued on and off throughout Monday, and by Monday night, I was convinced that I had indigestion.
Of course, by Tuesday morning…I thought I was going to die.
That morning, I woke up and felt like someone was sitting on top of my chest. When I sat up, the pressure continued, and I couldn’t quite catch my breath. My back hurt, and I started to get a tingling sensation down my left arm and up the left side of my neck. My first thought – I’m 32, and I’m going to die.
My fiancé insisted that I go to the ER. So, we made our way down Western Boulevard to Onslow Memorial Hospital. They took me to the back, took an EKG, got my vitals, took some blood and asked me to chew up some baby aspirin.
Once I was in the exam room, they put me in a gown and hooked me up to a heart monitor. I laid there for four hours as I was fed Maalox and Pepcid to make sure it wasn’t indigestion and then nitrogen just in case it was something cardiac-related.
Have you ever taken a nitrogen pill? It is a terrible feeling. It sits under your tongue and burns. Then, it makes you feel like you have indigestion. Then, it gives you a massive headache.
Before I left, I was given a painkiller through my IV, I believe a type of hydromorphone, and after some discharge papers (that I’m sure will lead to a huge bill), I was on my way with a prescription for anti-inflammatory meds, and instructions to follow-up if the pain continues or gets worse.
So, I didn’t have a heart attack. That’s good. However, there is something seriously wrong with me because the pain hasn’t subsided. That’s not so good.
However, there is a silver lining to this tale: It’s a wake-up call. Why am I in a position at 32 to believe that I may be having a heart attack? Why can’t I take a flight of stairs without being winded? These are the things I want to answer – and I will. While I didn’t exactly look death in the face on this ER trip, I feel like he’s breathing down my neck, and I think it is time to start taking it a little more seriously.
None of us are promised tomorrow, my friends, so why not be the best that you can be today? We are all going to die one day – I just hope that I don’t see death any time soon, and I’ll do everything in my power to keep him at bay.
This will be my last column for The Daily News. I am packing up my laptop and heading up to Marion, Ohio to be nearer to my family. They are also having health problems, and I want to be able to be there to help them through their tough times and wake-up calls.
I will continue to write about my journey at CallMeTabs.com. I wish all of you luck in your future weight loss and healthy lifestyle endeavors.