Once again I found myself within the confines of a hospital. Waiting in line, staring at the white ceiling, waiting for my name to be called, bothered by the same problem that has plagued me months prior – chest pain.
I was told previously that it was costochondritis, a case of muscle pain. Nothing serious. I was just being paranoid. I accepted that. It was, after all, a cardiologist who examined me and told me the result. So I went back to my normal life, trying to ignore the pain.
Months pass, and the aching gradually subsided. However, a little over 2 months ago, just before the turn of the year, the pain originally emanating smack in the middle of my chest where my left and right rib cages met, transferred to the left side and stayed there. The pain was now where my fragile heart is. ‘It’s just muscle pain,’ I reminded myself. Sleepless nights ensued. I dreaded evenings. What if I don’t wake up? What if I die in my sleep? ‘It’s just muscle pain,’ I told myself again and again and again, trying to muffle the nagging notion that it could already be something else. Something worse.
I finally decided to get another check-up two weeks ago, no longer able bear the thought of getting a cardiac arrest while walking in the middle of nowhere and dying on the spot. I realized how much I loved life and equally dreaded death.
I told the doctor everything – how the previous check-up came up with nothing but muscle pain, how the aching was so suddenly isolated only to the left part of my chest and sometimes radiating to my left arm, how I stopped exercising because of a busy schedule, how I argued with a person from another department at work causing my blood pressure to rise for the very first time. Everything. No detail was left out. Immediately after that I was told that there was ‘probably’ nothing wrong with me at all. My hopes shot up instantaneously. But the doctor did not want to take any chances so he recommended that I undergo a series of laboratory tests – chest X-ray, CBC, and ECG (once again). My hopes slowly landed back to Earth with a soft thud.
It was a week later that I would get the results and have another check-up. Well, I could’ve gotten the results earlier but the doctor wasn’t going to be available for another week because he travelled a lot, so I just waited until the doctor was available again before getting my results. That way I won’t have to add to my stress by Google-ing the medical terms I find in the lab tests.
Moment of truth came in the form of a line, white ceiling, more waiting, and L’Aquilone du Estrellas (A Kite of Stars). I learned my lesson so I brought a book with me this time. While waiting, I travelled to the mystical world of Hinirang and witnessed the unrequited love of Isabella who tried to turn herself into a star, the valiant challenge of Rosang Taba who won a foot race against one of the most distinguished and arrogant Spanish official in the land, and Aponikalandao’s quest for a heart that she was not born with. I was travelling through the Celibate Ocean with the Middle Prince when I was jolted back to reality. I heard the doctor call my name so I had to postpone my search for the Coral Crone and find out, once and for all, what was really wrong with me. I had my own adventure waiting for me.
Normal. I’m normal. My heart’s normal.
That was the general findings. It sounded a little anti-climatic, but it was what it was. It was what I wanted to hear. Aside from the irregular heart beat that the ECG result showed, there was absolutely nothing wrong with me. In my doctor’s words, ‘I am a hundred percent sure there is nothing wrong with your heart. There’s no chance that you’ll suddenly collapse and die because of heart attack.’
Still, I insisted. ‘What’s causing the pain, doc?,’ I asked. There was no straight answer. He recommended another test to check my alkalinity. The sodium (Na) and potassium (K) test. But the result was the same.
At this point, the patient doctor referred me to another cardiologist. His mentor, he said. I was slightly embarrassed because I thought I starting to come across as too demanding, for the lack of words. But I wanted to make sure. Not that I didn’t believe him because I did. I just wanted to be absolutely sure.
Normal. For the nth time, Normal.
That’s the verdict of the 3rd cardiologist who looked at my case. I was barely at his office for five minutes and he was sure that my heart was normal, basing on all the tests that were conducted, and the findings of his apprentice. He told me I was too young to have heart problems. He told me that I should enjoy being young and live my life. Odd advice coming from a cardiologist who looked like a stern elementary school principal, but that’s really what he told me. He also said that I should continue on taking the analgesic that his apprentice prescribed for a few more days to see if the muscle pain will completely disappear.
I conceded. There was nothing left for me to doubt. I thanked the good doctor before leaving and as I closed the door to his office, the pain materialized a few distances from myself, in a form that I would never associate with pain – a woman of immaculate beauty draped in the finest of white silk. She was smiling, a malicious glint in her emerald eyes. Cupped in her delicate hands was a heart. I stared at it as it beat in unison mine. It was my heart. Slowly, she raised the heart to her lips and kissed it just as pain emanated from my chest once more. She kissed it again and again and again – pain, pain, pain. Was she kissing the pain away, or was it the kiss that was causing my suffering? My quest continues.