“Chest Pains” by Chris Zito

Want to avoid having to wait all night next time you go to the ER? Try being a 45-year-old male with chest pains.

Five years ago this week I was having chest pains at work. On the air. I mentioned this to my partner. On the air.  She begged me to go to the hospital and I agreed to go right after the show. I figured by then they’d go away. They didn’t. They got worse.


I had a sudden psychic vision of  my future radio career.

That station is located in downtown Worcester, Ma. just a few blocks from St. Vincent’s Hospital. After the show I kept my promise and went to the hospital. On foot. I wasn’t trying to be a tough guy, it’s just that I really didn’t think it was anything serious. After all, when a guy on TV has a heart attack his left arm hurts and he’s almost always on the phone when it happens.


“Hurry…need air…can’t seem to…ungh!”

When I arrived at the ER the intake guy started with the questions. He asked my name, my insurance, my age.
“And why are you here today?”
“I’m having chest pai-”
The answer was barely out of my mouth when he whisked me away to triage and into a prone position pronto.

The nurse gave me a nitroglycerin pill. You know, one of those tiny ones that you put under your tongue if you’re having a heart attack in the movies and someone else is in the room and you gasp, “MY PILLS!” but the other person turns out to secretly hate you and they let you expire while they pretend to rummage around for your pills but Charlie Chan figures it out and they go to prison for life which is small consolation to you because you’re dead.

Long story short, I ended up spending the night while they reviewed the blood work to see if I’d had a heart attack. In the morning I took a stress test. That’s where they put those little sticky heart monitor things all over you and run you through your paces on a treadmill. I thought I did okay considering I was wearing hospital issue foam slippers instead of my Saucony running shoes.


The stress of the test caused temporary hair loss.

After the test they sent me back to my room where I waited for the doctor to come and give me all the results and hopefully send me home. Meanwhile, my siblings and children had all called frantic that I was about to check out. My wife on the other hand was very cool about the whole thing. I wondered if she was in denial or had recently made sure my life insurance premiums were in order. If I go, it’s a pretty serious windfall. Just throwing that in as a clue to the local Charlie Chan in case I die with nitroglycerin pills a few feet away from my body.

The doctor finally showed up and said that in his opinion this was an episode of extreme heartburn. He prescribed a daily regimen of over the counter acid reducer and baby aspirin.  He added, noting that I was, at the time, about 50 pounds overweight, that my stress test had shown “an above average capacity for exercise.”
“I suggest you use it,” he added dryly.
Hey, I thought I was the professional smart ass!

Thanks for reading. Tell your pals.
Chris Zito

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3 Responses

  1. Ugh I can’t laugh. That day SUCKED!

  2. chest pains can be really painful and it could also indicate a serious disease. ‘

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