Last night I treated myself to a 16 oz Rib-eye from Balans. A Greek Platter too. I ordered it to-go, went home, showered, put on my favorite sweats and hoodie and settled in. More and more these are my Friday nights –enjoying the quiet comfort of my south Florida sky-pad.
I went to bed early, I had a 9:00 am doctor’s appointment the next morning for my annual checkup. Dr. John Jones – my former Hoosier boyfriend turned good friend – is celebrating his 40th birthday this month. He’s been running again and looks fantastic! I was excited to see him. I bought him a birthday gift with two cards – I love MikWright Greeting Cards – and I knew he’d get a kick out of my choices. It was a gorgeous morning drive from Miami to Ft. Lauderdale. I plugged my iPhone into my car’s auxiliary port, hit my favorite playlist and seat-danced my drive to his office. Seat-dancing in my car happens more and more these days too.
When I arrived at Dr. Jones’ office the staff greeted me and the lobby was filled with several attractive men all of whom seemed to be about my age. Dr. Jones’ office isn’t necessarily a “gay” doctor’s office except, perhaps, the dance music playing in the background. And it is located next to the drag bar Lips so, in Middle America terms I guess, it’s kind of “gay”. Anyway, I no sooner arrived, checked in, and I was sitting in the patient examining room talking with John. I call him JJMD. Always have. It was nice catching up; I don’t get to see him often. We talked about everything happening in my life, in his life, and then he walked me to the back and passed me to a nurse for blood-work.
The nurse sat me in the chair, completed the necessary paperwork, and began prepping my arm to draw blood. I never watch the process, something about it makes me anxious. As she was drawing blood I felt the panic building in my chest. I’ve had panic attacks twice in my life. Once in 2000 while driving from Evansville, Indiana, to Vincennes I was forced to pull into a convenience mart. The lady behind the counter gave me an aspirin and called 911. She thought I was having a heart attack. So did I. I ended up in Deaconess Hospital. Tests revealed no heart issues; I was healthy. The second time was in 2007 at my friend Kevin’s downtown loft, also in Evansville, four months after my family lost our 55-year-old restaurant and the life we’d always known. I was 38 years old and had nothing except my anxiety. I scared Kevin, he called the paramedics and again I ended up in Deaconess Hospital. Once more tests revealed I was healthy.
Today the nurse at JJMD’s office, as she filled the vile of blood from my arm, saw the blood drain from my face. I became pale and clammy, the fear in my chest grew intense, swelling, suffocating, I couldn’t catch my breath. I removed my hat and glasses, she asked if I needed some juice, “Yes,” I said, “I didn’t eat breakfast.” She called for another nurse to bring juice. My nurse opened it and that’s all I remember. My world went black. I was in a foreign land. I could not comprehend my being.
They said it took three ammonia capsules to bring me round. When I regained semi-consciousness John’s face was close to mine. I could feel his breath. Each of his hands were placed on each of my shoulders, he was gently rocking me, calling my name. It was a peculiar experience to see his face and hear his voice so near to me during what felt like a reentry. I remember saying to John, “All I did last night was eat steak. It wasn’t like I went out partying. I got lots of sleep.” I don’t know why those were my first words.
My shorts were wet. “Did he pee?” John asked.
“No,” the nurse replied. “He said he didn’t feel well and tossed the juice at me. I didn’t catch it in time.”
John looked at me and smiled. I knew exactly what he was thinking. “Drink your juice, Shelby,” he said. That made me giggle. My nurse didn’t pick up on John’s reference to Steel Magnolias.
I was still having trouble breathing. John said my skin felt cold and clammy. “Do you have someone to come and get you?” my nurse asked. “You shouldn’t drive.”
“No. I don’t really have anyone who can,” I said.
They decided to call paramedics. I’ve never experienced a doctor’s office calling 911. I was relieved they did. I still had to drive home on I-95. And to be honest I was scared to leave JJMD’s office. For some, I-95 is a panic inducing experience all its own. I wasn’t sure I could do it.
Since JJMD’s office is in Ft. Lauderdale – where the boys are – naturally the two male paramedics that arrived were attractive. One lifted my shirt and placed several electrodes on my chest while the other took my information. The paramedic operating the portable EKG pack had a soft sexy voice. I kept thinking Damn he’s cute. I need to lose weight. (There’s obviously nothing wrong with my libido!) Everything checked out. My heart was strong, blood pressure normal, and blood sugar in check. After standing me up and checking my vitals again, the paramedic asked if I felt I needed to go to the hospital. I said no. I was better. He stood with me as I checked out of JJMD’s office then he walked me to my car. I shook his hand and said thank you. He told me if I felt another episode coming on to pull over and call 911. “If you’re still driving on Oakland Park Blvd., we’ll be the ones to respond,” he said.
As I pulled out of JJMD’s parking lot, the ambulance still parked near the building’s front door, don’t think for a moment I didn’t consider pulling over on Oakland Park Blvd., and calling 911.