Last I’d left you my wife got in touch with me and told me that I needed to get to the emergency room ASAP. She spoke to my doctor who said that my cardiac enzymes were elevated that I’d had a heart attack.

So I drove past the hospital on my way home.

I wasn’t nervous. I had no real chest pain. Just some vague discomfort.

At home, I packed a small bag (mostly with books, one of them a book on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu techniques — how’s that for optimism?), made sure I had clean underwear on, peed, kissed the children, and told them that I was probably going to be admitted into the hospital for some tests.

Nothing that happened after that was much of a surprise.

On the way to the hospital my wife and I talked about what was going to happen next. “You know that they’re probably going to want to do a cardiac cath. I don’t want to be cath’d there. I want to go to Deborah (Heart and Lung Hospital).”

Our local hospital only recently started doing cardiac caths, and then only for emergency and diagnostic reasons. If I needed angioplasty or a stent or some other sort of other intervention I’d have to be transferred to a different hospital (like Deborah) only to be cath’d again. No one needs that.

My wife agreed. She spent much of the summer taking her father back & forth to Deborah. He had a couple of cardiac characterizations, each requiring a stent. My wife is a tough nurse and she couldn’t have been happier with the professional and courteous care he received there. So that decision was made before my first EKG was even ordered.

Truth be told, I tried to get direct admitted to Deborah before even leaving my office. My doctor’s office manager said that she’d tell my doctor of my request, but advised that I go to the emergency room. I called my cardiologist, they said the same thing. Phooey.

I get to the emergency room. They knew I was coming. They took my information and had me sit in the waiting room.

My wife and I sat just long enough for me to acquire my complimentary USAToday when a overly-young female transporter tried to get me to sit in a chair that was several times larger than my hips. I stuffed the USAToday in my bag, “I’d rather walk,” I said.

“Are you sure?”

“I’ll walk.”

The three of us walked into the recently refurbished cardiac section of the emergency department. It was so bright and shiny I was tempted to shade my eyes. Everywhere there were machines that went “ping.” Those machines were largely ignored by the emergency department personnel.

Those same employees desperately avoided making eye-contact with me (or any other patient). This is a skill learned early by people who work in hospitals, perhaps they pick it up in orientation. If you make eye-contact with a patient, that patient may ask your for something — like a glass of water or, perhaps, a urinal to pee in. The presumption is that if someone needs help desperately enough, he or she will scream. At which time they immediately administer medications that will stop the screaming.

I was brought in front of a gurney. A nurse appeared out of nowhere, closed the curtains around us, told me to strip down to my waist and put a gown on. Moments later, they all showed up …