Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Things that go bump in the night

Are you frightened by things that go bump in the night? I rarely am, but I can conjure up wild scary thoughts at 3 a.m. if I'm sleepless. Last night was different: I couldn't sleep but was sort of calm and peaceful--meaning I dozed--and finally fell asleep between 3:00 and 4:00. The cat wakened me at 6:00, and I fed him, thinking he'd then let me have another two hours of sleep. But when I crawled back in bed, I had this weird intermittent pain just above my elbow on my left arm. We've all been taught so much these days about being a pro-active patient, listening to our bodies and symptoms, etc., that I of course put left arm pain together with heart attack. Nothing else about me felt off--just this annoying flash of pain about every minute. My first thought was: of course I'm not having a heart attack, because I'm keeping Jacob tonight.
I have the luxury or advantage or whatever of having a brother who's a doctor, and I called him. After asking a few questions, he said the classic, "Take two aspirin and call me back later." Actually what he said was aspirin were good to take if it was a cardiac event, which he didn't think it was, and aspirin was also good for a pain in the elbow. Later, we settled on my original diagnosis of having slept wrong on my shoulder and elbow, and by mid-morning the pain was gone.
But it brought the power of imagination home to me again. I'm not sure if writing fiction and being definitely left-brained (don't ask me to proofread or do math) has anything to do with it, but I've always had vivid dreams and a strong imagination--especially in the dark wee hours of the morning. So this morning of course my imagination ran away with me--who should I call to take me to the ER, would I be in a hospital bed by afternoon, etc. I think probably the possibility of death even occurred to me, though I am quite sure I have a lot of years left to live--but still, in your seventies, such thoughts occur.
Of course once I got up and moving  both the scary thoughts and the symptoms went away. But it's a lesson learned (maybe) in distinguishing between real symptoms and frightful thoughts. Wouldn't I have been embarrassed if I'd called 911 for a numb shoulder?
So today my major thought was: I want a nap!

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