Thursday, January 13, 2011


Before we discovered the funny pastor, I
entertained myself by taking pictures of me in an IV
and a long flouncy skirt that is so big
it covered the entire room
So I spent the night in the ER and feel completely exhausted. (The previous post was scheduled to appear at that time with the specific goal of reaching Australian conservatives who are awake at that time.) The only reason why I am still awake is because I need to call my department after 8 am to tell them I have cancelled my classes. Thank God for blogging because it gives me something to do while I'm waiting for the department to open, or I would just drop off from sheer exhaustion.

The whole thing started on Tuesday when I suddenly got this weird constriction in my chest that wouldn't let me breathe in deeply or move and that eventually got quite painful. Then this morning I felt a constriction in my throat too, which made me think I was losing my voice. By evening, the chest pain got really bad. I thought I had pulled an oblique muscle because the pain was more to one side, so I never thought I needed to do anything about it. Then I mentioned it on Twitter and @usedphotons (whom I never met but who is a kind, compassionate individual) told me this might be a cardiac event. So I got kind of worried. (Later, it turned out that @usedphotons was completely right and gave me great advice. Thank you, friend!)

We decided to go to the hospital but, of course, the car wouldn't start, and I had to call 911 for the second time in my life. A very nice police officer came (I don't know for what purpose) and then paramedics arrived and took me to the hospital in a real ambulance. While we were driving, I noticed a church that had the topic of the next sermon announced on the board in front of it: "JESUS DIED FOR MYSPACE." That's what it said. MySpace, in one word. I realized that I must be doing really badly to hallucinate in this manner. Then we came closer, and I saw a little addition at the bottom: "in heaven." So the good news is that Jesus didn't die for MySpace (always nice to know) but, rather, for my space in heaven.

Compared with my last hospital stay (which happened when I was 5 years old in the Soviet Union), this one was definitely a space in heaven. Unlike my previous hospital visit, the doctor didn't hit me in the face with a fist. (I can tell the story when I get some rest, if anybody is interested.) So I'm seeing a very positive dynamic here. It was kind of funny that every paramedic, nurse and doctor said "Hi, how are you?" whenever they saw me. I had no idea what the correct response would be. Saying "I'm great, thank you", like I usually do, seemed kind of weird given that I was hooked to an IV and an EKG machine. But on the other hand, I was taught that a lengthy explanation of one's health-related details is not an accepted form of response to such a question. Or is it when you are being rolled in on a stretcher?

It turned out I have pericarditis, which is something like an inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart. It happens because of an infection, so I guess this is what my students gave me in return for the first class of the semester I taught them. I got a stack of prescriptions but the pain is supposed to start going away by next Tuesday when I have to go back to class. Trust me to get sick not when it would have helped (like at the end of the semester) but during week one when I really want to be at work.

While we were waiting for all the tests to come in and all the medicine to work, we discovered this TV channel with a really hilarious pastor. There are not many stand-up comics out there who can entertain quite as well. This made me remember how when I first moved to the US, I kept looking for funny programs to watch. First, I stumbled across Fox News, which I took for a bona fide comedy channel. Then I discovered a channel that kept showing the sermons of these Evangelical preachers whom I, once again, mistook for comedians. Believe me, for a person of my background the last thing in the world these people could be was preachers. This particular sermon was so good that we lingered behind to finish listening to it even after I was discharged.

After we left, we got completely lost. We took a wrong turn in the dark and ended up in a different town. First, we thought we knew where we were because everything looked exactly the same and even the street names were the same. It is both really good and really confusing that all small American towns are so alike.

And now I can finally go to bed.

P.S. Just discovered online that pericarditis is more common in men. How come even my health problems are male?


Shedding Khawatir said...

Yikes, I'm glad you're okay and I wish you a speedy recovery!

Anonymous said...

I once considered reappearing into the blog scene but when I saw that you kept writing posts all day long I thought "Competition must be really tough" and decided to forget about it.

Now, I'm relieved. Well, not really. I hope you get well and get back to your 'classes', and of course your writing, which I enjoy, but also get stressed thinking the quickly you keep posting.

Pagan Topologist said...

I surely hope you do indeed recover within a few days. That sounds scary. I have had two days of Moh's microsurgery this week myself, and I am far more debilitated thereby than I had expected.

We are required to have some other faculty member meet our classes in such a circumstance. I sometimes teach in a way that I do not think a colleague could possibly fill in in any meaningful way. It often seems to be a lost day, regardless.

All the best wishes for your recovery.

V said...

Sorry to hear about your cardiac event. Hope you get well soon.

I apologize if it is not a good time to humor you, but you made me recall some very funny church-related thing. One of the churches which I passed every day on my way to work when I lived in the US called itself "First Evangelical Chinese-Free Church". I have no idea who put a "-" there, but it was there for a long time. (apparently those who noticed were afraid to tell the Chinese; it was actually the church where the Chinese went)

cringe-all said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cringe-all said...

wish you a speedy recovery!

Angie Harms. said...

Take care, Clarissa!! And thanks so much for managing to be so funny even in the middle of a crisis!

Anonymous said...

Here's to a speedy recovery!


fairykarma said...

I've been taking your "have fun" as a New Year's Resolution pretty seriously, such that I'm losing count of the days and time is slowing. Hoping this is but a minor complication for you, and the fun can continue once again.

KT said...

So sorry to hear this but it's nice to see that you haven't lost your sense of humour still.

I wish you a speedy recovery.

Clarissa said...

Thank you, everybody! I'm all covered in these ECG thingies they put on you. But, as KT mentions, the sense of humor is intact.

Anonymous: after your comment, my contrarian bent made me want to post a lot today. :-) Do think of returning to blogging and sharing your blog address with us here. It's not about the quality of posts, so don't worry about that.

Thank you all, guys! you are the best!

Denny said...

Feel better. And, remember, pain medication works best when you start them as soon as your uncomfortable. Don't try to "toughen it out" by waiting until you're really hurting.

Tom Carter said...

Clarissa, I can identify with the pain of this thing. Many years ago I ended up in the hospital with what was diagnosed as pericarditis. Painful as hell. Turned out it was viral pneumonia, though. Hope you're feeling better already.

Clarissa said...

Thank you, guys!

The most unpleasant part is only being able to make very shallow breaths. I feel strangled most of the time.

Anonymous said...

MySpace is not as funny as what I saw once in Southampton, UK:

"Without Jesus, you are the weakest link!"

Anonymous said...

Pericarditis huh?

I am humbled by what was a semi-informed, somewhat vague guess on my part.

In all honesty it was the only responsible thing I could suggest under the circumstances, i.e. not being there in person.

I'm happy to know the trip to the ER was, in retrospect, a good choice and I wish you a full and speedy recovery.


Clarissa said...

Oh, you are this wonderful person who gave me the great advice?

Thank you so much, Michael!!! You rock.