Thursday, September 30, 2010
First Time I Was Dead: Be Still My Heart
I wrote recently about my bout with an incorrigible thyroid. In that account I mentioned a nurse so stunned by my vitals she expected me to drop deep at her feet. But this was not the only time people pronounced my imminent demise. Some of the others did not build my confidence in or admiration for medical practitioners.
(Photo by Ronald Tipton Retired in Delaware Blog.)
In my callow youth I worked ten years for a very, very large company. When I took my first job there at age 18 it was known as The Atlantic Refining Company and was a regular sponsor of the Philadelphia Phillies radio and TV broadcasts. Part way through my tenure they began merging with certain other oil companies, most notably Richfield Oil Corporation. They then became known as ARCo and grew to be one of the 50 largest corporations in the country.
They have since disappeared as a separate entity, being swallowed up and becoming part of another oil refiner you may have heard of called British Petroleum or Barach Preferred or BP for short. They are known in the Gulf states as simply those _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _!
I worked for ARCo just short of ten years. If I had been thinking, I would have stayed a few more months because then my pension would have vested, but you don't have your mind on retirement when in your twenties.
Apparently during those Atlantic years I died.
You see a big corporation ARCo had its own in-house medical department with its own in-house health professionals -- presumably. They had a couple nurses and a doctor. Whenever an employee might complain of feeling ill, before those who be would grant the right to leave work, the complainant would be sent to the medical department for evaluation.
It so happened one fine day I felt a bit not so fit myself and off to see the health professionals I went. The nurse interviewed me and then the doctor popped out to give me the once other.
He was a shorter, squat, gray-haired man as I remember. He did the usual things. The stick in the mouth while you say "ah" and a few little hammer taps on the knee. Then he got his stethoscope out and pressed its chilly metal mouth against my bare chest. "Breath in and hold it," he said. "Now out and in again."
He then said, "Hmmm?'
Doctor's saying hmmm is seldom a good sign.
He now switched his stethoscope to my back and roamed it up and down, left and right, up and down, left and right, each time punctuating the move with, "Hmmm?"
Now came the verdict.
"I can't seem to find a heartbeat," he says. "I'm going to send you home an hour early. I don't want you in the rush hour crowds."
Apparently dead men were a drag on rush hour crowds.