It only hurts when I breathe

I was supposed to go back to work today. My body had other ideas. I woke in the middle of the night with the worst case of heartburn I’ve ever had. The chest pains were so bad, all the way through to my back, that after antacids didn’t help, I started to worry that it was something worse than heartburn. It’s scary to be alone in the middle of the night with chest pains. I took half a Xanax to fend off a panic attack, and just sat with the pain. At 4:00 a.m. I called in sick, turned off my phone, and crawled back into bed. It still hurt, but I was too exhausted to sit up any more. Finally slept around 5:00.

When I woke at 11:00 and the symptoms hadn’t gone away, I just wanted to cry. It’s times like this when I really miss my dad, who long after he retired remained my personal on-call physician. And I miss Mike, who knew just the right spot to rub between my shoulder blades to ease the pain.

I vaguely recalled Dad once recommending a hot bath for something like this, so I filled the tub with water as hot as I could stand. As I eased myself in, my chest and back ached with every slow, deep breath. I was reminded of a Melissa Etheridge song:

I’m alright, I’m alright
It only hurts when I breathe
And I can’t ask for things to be still again
No I can’t ask if I could walk through the world in your eyes,
Longing for home again
Home is a feeling I buried in you
I’m alright, I’m alright
It only hurts when I breathe…

I lay in the tub sobbing until there was no more hot water. Grief manifests in some strange ways.


~ by hourbeforedawn on April 1, 2010.

One Response to “It only hurts when I breathe”

  1. oh gosh lira. this is so awful. i’m so sorry.

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