I should have known better than to write a column on the controversial topic of health care reform.
Doing so was like tempting the fates. Something was bound to happen to me that would require medical care.
These were some of the thoughts I had recently while coming out of sedation land after a medical procedure. It took a while before I fully reentered reality and rational thinking; in the meantime, other sedation-influenced thoughts came to me.
Maybe none of this was needed. It was probably just a money making scheme by the medical industry worried that their profits would be taken away by reform efforts. They had probably read my column and were not amused.
And that's why they stuck it to me in the arm for numerous blood tests, twice in one hand to insert IV openings, and in the groin right up into my heart where, after some exploration, they left a stent in one artery.
Now I'd have to take a new medication for at least a year or clotting would form in the stent. The medical and drug industries both had me.
This dreamlike conspiracy theorizing faded as the sedation aftereffects faded, and I thought more clearly and logically.
I had certainly expected none of this when I was doing some end of November lawn raking.
Our biggest tree is always the last one in the northern hemisphere to drop its leaves, and this year it seemed especially stubborn. Finally, it shed most of them, and the unusually mild weather allowed me to do some raking before the snow fell.
The problem was, though, I got much more tired than usual. And I felt a constriction, like a tight band, around my chest. No pain, just discomfort, fatigue and the constriction. Not quite a Mike Ditka of Da Bears Heart Attack moment.
Yet I did go for a checkup and was given a stress test, which I flunked.
Then a few days later in the hospital, I flunked the gown test. I was instructed to take off my clothes and put on two gowns and some socks. I did fine with the socks, getting the rubberized grips on the bottom of my feet.
Not so well with the gowns, however. They were neatly folded and piled on a chair. Simple enough, it seemed. They had told me which went on first and it what manner. But I wasn't really listening.
When unfolded, the top one looked like a small irregularly shaped flannel sheet with a few unfastened snaps along a portion of the edges. It wasn't immediately clear exactly how to do the snapping or what that would produce.
So I moved to the other gown, which had sewn-in sleeves. I put it on backwards as I thought hospital gowns were worn. Of course, I learned when the nurse returned, this gown was the outer one and it was to be worn with the opening to the front.
She politely withheld any critical comments, got me started snapping the gown together to produce sleeve-like openings, reminded me on the correct order of donning the garments, and left for a few minutes while I finally got them on properly.
Two tests, two flunks. Then, of course, I flunked the heart catheterization test. They found a partial blockage requiring a stent.
So that meant three flunked tests. Later I would flunk a fourth. The med to prevent stent clotting was incompatible with another med I took, requiring a replacement med that my insurance did not cover. So the insurance industry also stuck it to me.
Seriously, though, I'm of course thankful that my problem was diagnosed when it was, before anything worse happened.
I'm thankful that I received excellent treatment and care, including medications, and I'm thankful for my good overall insurance coverage.
I am, however, still a bit chagrined over four flunked tests. But, hey, I did ace the hospital footwear test.
(James Lein is one of four community columnists for The Minot Daily News)