Sudden Dumbas Death Syndrome
by Turtle Jones

Another guest post from Dave in Texas? Yes, but this will be his last. Only because starting next week he will be joining us as a regular contributor with his own column.

This article originally appeared here in September of 2006.

I hesitated writing about this. I wanted to get it out. I did not want to expose it to the world.

A week ago Tuesday I had a little “episode” of mild chest pain and dizziness. It didn’t really hurt, but it felt weird. Something I had not experienced before.

I have made some poor choices over the years. I was way overweight. I might have smoked some.

I started turning that around 3 years ago. Quit smoking.

As of this week, I’ve lost 75 pounds and probably have about 30 left to get to my target.

You cannot imagine how pissed off I was prepared to be under the circumstances..

Anyway, for the next two days I fretted about this pain and that. I had heard too many stories about guys who went to bed “just not feeling right” and woke up dead.

I made an appointment for Friday, but by Thursday I was still jumping like a cat over “this pain” or “that one”.

You get paranoid.

So I drove myself to the ER (impressive guy stupidity, is it not?), walked in, and said “I think I’ve got some chest pain and it’s worrying me a bit”.

Well, welcome to the Machine. There may be a hundred people in the waiting room, but if you come in and tell the triage nurse “my chest hurts”, you are in the express lane.

And by express lane I mean they immediately 1) pop an aspirin in you 2) take your bp and pulse, 3) do an EKG, and 4) take a lot of blood, to see if there’s any sign of cardiac trauma. Then 5) you wait hours for the next test and a doctor to come tell you his opinion of the results.

Well I thought after the EKG and the blood work (which showed no trauma enzymes), I thought they’d let me go home.

I was wrong. They admitted me into the hospital.

That evening, and the next day, I did more tests. Separated by hours of boredom. I went nuts.

Newton Minow was right, television is a vast wasteland.

When did these “stand up before a retired judge and explain why you are an asshole” shows become so popular?

I took more tests, and the results kept coming back negative (in my favor). And at 5pm they let me go home. And I was really ready to get out.

It’s funny, when you think you’re about to die, you want to hang out there. Treadmill test might induce cardiac arrest? Well hell, better here than at home pushing a lawn mower. But when all the tests run so far say I’m fine? Oh great, no big deal, I’m ready to leave now.

You feel a little chagrined, except everyone looks at your age and your history, and says “you should have come in on Tuesday”.

My one mistake.

Gentlemen (and ladies), those of us who are a little older and maybe have some risk factors, if you don’t feel well, don’t screw around. People depend on you.

Go check it out. You’ll hate it, I certainly did.

But you have an obligation to make sure it’s nothing. So go do it.

My heart did not attack me. According to the serious looking doctors, it won’t for a long time.

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It seems as though you and my Mom have a lot in common! Our stories are eerily similar. I'm glad your stress test, EKG, and bloodwork came back O.K.


In common with you and your mom kid. Email me sometime, I got a couple of pointers.


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