Silence. Absolute Silence. The night seemed to be still. It was as if time had stood frozen for me. Pitch black never seemed so beautiful. It was as if on my deathbed, the night had given me companionship. I kept my hands close to my chest. It was still beating. Each beat was heavier than the previous. The pain in my chest was rhythmic. It was like a train of impulses. Frequent. Time inter-leaved. Maybe I shouldn’t have made fun of that teacher when he taught me comb-shaped signals. It was as if The Great Dictator had decided to take revenge by giving me a practical example of it – by sticking it straight through my chest!
Earlier in the day one of my very close friends had told me about a recent event that took place in his home town. A 23 year old guy had died after having a heart attack. My friend’s father who is a doctor told that too much fast food was the reason for this. That had sent alarm bells ringing in my mind. Me being an avid lover of the fast food variety and the Aji no Moto filled Chinese dishes, felt shocked at this great tragedy. My limited knowledge in human anatomy told me that because two arteries went into the left arm and left part of the head respectively as opposed to the single artery together for both the right hand and right part of the head, one was supposed to experience excruciating pain in the left arm prior to any heart attack. It kind of startled me for a bit because I was having pain in my left arm but it was nowhere near ‘excruciating’. I was having a small pain in my chest as well. Baffled by all this I decided to go to the Temple of the all-knowing Cyber-God – The Internet. I googled ‘symptoms of heart attack’. I got a ridiculous amount of hits. This showed me why heart disease was the major killer disease in the States. I clicked on one link. It had graphic representations of pain areas and stuff. One of the first sentences read –
“ Prior to any heart attack, the person usually suffers excruciating pain in the chest region which spreads into the left arm or both arms and then to the neck and jaw regions. Have a check-up if you have sweat excessively or breathe heavily while walking”.
The words gave me some relief. I contemptuously thought of those lowlifes who said the Internet was a bane of life. Yeah, right. Right now it was my saviour. I scrolled down. Then I read it –
“Silent attacks: The most fatal attacks are usually preceded by silent attacks in which the person feels only small, harmless pain in the chest and arms.”
I read it only once but it was doing an encore in my head for the rest of the night. It wasn’t acceptable. I was only 21 years old and this possibly couldn’t be happening. I went straight to my room and fell on my bed. I felt my chest. It was paining. Only a little. The calmness before the storm I guess. Silent attack - these medicine people seemed to have a nice habit of wordplay. I felt my left arm, it was also in pain. I lay motionless in an awkward pose for some time. What did it matter? Nobody cared how the credits rolled after a movie or the curtain came down after a play. Suddenly I checked my neck. It was paining. So was the jaw. Oh no! The end was near.
The current had gone off. It was as if the KSEB workers had decided to play an inside joke on me on this night. The pain in my left arm was deepening. It didn’t take too much time for me to understand the sheer horror of the situation. I couldn’t resist the temptation of looking back at my life. All my life I was a good son, an OK friend, overall maybe not a mountain-conqueror, but an OK person. Then again, I could’ve done better. “If only I could turn back time....”. Ain’t that a funny thing? – the mortal man carries the immortal time around with him – just to be pissed off by his own imperfection at the end! I thought of my parents, my relatives and my friends. Somebody once said your loved ones are strangers you meet in a hotel in the journey of life. Well, it was time for me to check out of this ‘hotel’. I thought of all the women I had ever loved. Nothing had ever worked out successfully. I wondered if any of them would remember anything good about me. How life would have been different if any one of them was with me to endure this last moment?
I was sweating excessively. All the symptoms seemed to be coming in unison now. I was feeling sleepy. In some way I felt happy. Dying in your sleep was something that happened to the luckiest people. Lucky me. I dozed off.
I woke up to a bellowing sound. It took me a while to get to my senses. Or whatever’s left of it. The bellowing continued. Was it the gates of St.Peter welcoming me? Or had I done too much evil in my life time for me to face the devil’s whip? I cleaned my ears. The bellowing became ringing. I opened my eyes. I was there on my bed staring at my alarm clock. It seemed to be ringing like an angel welcoming me back to heavenly earth. Never before did the alarm ring seem so sweet. I was back - alive in flesh and blood. Thanks to the Love of God!
The ordeal of the previous night had me confused. I was feeling okay now. Nevertheless, I decided to take a check-up. I went to the doctor and told him everything. He seemed to have a smile on his face. He said if I was worried so much, a check-up was essential. He took my ECG. And then my blood test. Everything was found to be perfectly normal. In fact, the doctor said the results showed that my health was in perfect shape. The doctor said the chest pain would’ve been caused by gas. The sweating would’ve been because of the current-cut and also due to the hot temperature. The pain in the arms, neck and jaw would’ve been a result of me turning my attention to my body parts after reading the internet. I was resting in an awkward pose that night. It could’ve caused a minor muscle strain. How ridiculous can I get? I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Then again I had just paid a thousand rupees to my doctor to know that I was in good shape. Smart lad, the doctor.
When I left the doctor’s place, I still had one more doubt. The pain in my left arm. I had it even before I read the internet. It baffled me. Regardless, I went back to my room and continued my favourite past time – FIFA 11. Then it struck me. I was so powerfully stroking the keys (A,S,D,F) on my keyboard while playing FIFA 11, that it would’ve been a miracle if my arm showed no pain. Just when you think you couldn’t be any more ridiculous!
NOTE: So after this horrendous experience, all I’d like to say is : get your facts right people, before you start looking for symptoms. Hypochondria itself is a disease. Be sure NOT to succumb to it. I also in no way mean to make fun of the killer that is heart disease. Get your check-up regularly if you are over 40 years of age. It is very important that you eat healthy and stay healthy. Happy living. J