It begins with that tight feeling in your chest. That feeling that makes you hope you’ve only trapped some carbon dioxide a little bit below your throat. It makes you hope that it’s nothing but indigestion. It makes you hope. But it also scares the crap out of you when you touch your neck and find that your heartbeat is skipping.

As I tumbled into the warm sheets I felt that tightness in my chest. It felt odd. It felt different. But then I felt that skipping heart beat. I called my doctor the next day. I wish I hadn’t and I’m glad I did.

I was waiting quietly in a room. I’m only 35 and therefore feel like maybe I took a wrong turn somewhere down the road. Everyone in the building is in their 70s or older. It felt like those dreams of being caught in your underwear walking down the hallway at school. But I waited. Patiently. It’s easy to do that when you smoke. I remember those times. When I smoked and could wait patiently. But I get ahead of myself.

I was asked to come to the back room. They attached a few cold pieces of plastic and metal to my skin. I just knew a large switch on the wall was going to be pulled soon and all of this would be over. But that didn’t happen. Instead, I walked on a treadmill for 4 minutes. Yeah. Only 4 minutes. Sheesh. There had to be something wrong. Then they took pictures of my heart. I was claustrophobic. Not anymore. I then was able to go eat and hang out until they took more pictures of my heart. But the IV had to stay in my hand. I looked like an escaped mental patient. Thank goodness I wasn’t wearing a hospital gown. Oh wait. I did. Later.

See, something was odd about that stress test. The heart doctor said I must get a heart cath done. I am told that a heart cath is where they make a hole in your nether regions and push a tube up into your heart to take some pictures of the inside. That is all I’m told. I’ve never heard of a heart cath before. Nether regions? Exactly where would this hole be? What size tube? How come I’m not allowed to eat anything for 18 hours before doing this? Are they scared I’ll relieve myself once I see what is going to happen to me? This scares me.

Then the day comes when I dress in the hospital gown, down a couple of “the good pills” and lie down on a cold metal slab only to wake up talking like a 2-year-old with a severe case of ADHD and wondering why there’s pressure on my right leg. About an hour later I wake up again, this time with purple bumblebees flying in my room and the doctor telling me I have a head like a bowling ball. 30 minutes later my wife tells me those purple bumblebees were not in existence and that the doctor actually said I had the heart of a 25-year-old. Since I’m 35, I guess that’s a good thing.

So my doctor gives me Nexium. Turns out, it was indigestion. But hey… I managed to quit smoking and gain 30 pounds. Oh, and now I really do have ADHD since I no longer have nicotine to curb it. There’s got to be a lesson in there somewhere. I just can’t find it.