How Easy It is to Forget to be Grateful

I spent six hours yesterday in a hospital emergency room. Working at home, I began to experience chest pains yesterday morning unlike any I had experienced before. When I stood up and walked around a little, I felt lightheaded, so I called my doctor’s office. Upon hearing that the pains had lasted for almost twenty minutes, the nurse with whom I spoke told me to go to the hospital. (Actually she told me to call 911, but I decided to let my husband drive me instead.)

Various blood tests (one repeated after 4 hours), EKG (also repeated), chest x-ray, etc., showed no evidence of heart attack or heart damage. So the diagnosis is “atypical chest pain” (although the ER doctor did recommend an outpatient stress test and follow-up with my own doctor).

So what was my first reaction to the news that I was not facing any serious health problem here? Joy? Gratitude? Relief? Gratitude? (repeated intentionally)

Nah – I was irritated with myself that I wasted a day of work sitting in a hospital room. “I shouldn’t have come in,” I grumbled to my husband. “What a waste of a day. What an idiot [I was].”

Sigh. Given the pains and symptoms, going to the ER was the absolutely right move, judged by any rational standard. (Indeed, when I arrived at the hospital, I was seen immediately, in advance of several people who arrived before me; they had me through triage and in a room within 5 minutes of my arriva.) That means that the only way the day would not have been “wasted” was if I had had a heart attack or serious damage to my heart.

Perhaps gratitude that that was not the result would have been a better reaction than worrying about the work I didn’t get done..