by Marinka on March 23, 2014

The other day I was sure that I was having a heart attack. I’ve been under a lot of stress lately, what with monitoring all the Breaking News from CNN about the missing plane and trying to piece my life together now that The Bachelor is over for the season, and then one day, I started getting chest tightness. This is before I got my new and improved bras, so we can’t blame them for this.

Immediately I called medical professional Papa.

“I think I’m having a heart attack,” I reported.

Papa was obviously alarmed. “Do you like herring?” he asked. “I know you did when you were a little girl, but now I’m not sure. I never see you eating herring anymore.”

“Well, I do,” I said. “I prefer it cut up in chunks and in sour cream sauce.” I got a little hungry just thinking about it.

“I don’t like sour cream sauce,” Papa told me. “I like the wine sauce.”

“I don’t know what to tell you,” I didn’t know what to tell him. “Sour cream is more delicious.” And now I’m wondering why deliciouser isn’t a word and Obamacare is. This is exactly why people join the Tea Party.

“Sour cream clogs arteries,” Papa said, which reminded me about the purpose of my call.

“Right,” I said. “So, I think I’m having a heart attack.”

“This is not a new thought for you,” Papa remarked. He was sort of right, but in my defense, I was still celebrating Heart Disease Awareness Month.

After a while Papa convinced me that I wasn’t having a heart attack, and I marked this good news with some Haagen Dazs. But I was still concerned. After all, I’m still young and unbelievably stunning and if I can do anything to address heart disease, don’t I owe it to everyone to do so? Wendi is the only person who has login information to this blog, and how many of her hysterical posts could you read if the Unthinkable happened before you felt unbelievable guilt and remorse at laughing despite my untimely demise? You’d tell yourself “Marinka would want us to laugh and be happy” but let me tell you right here and now, I wouldn’t. I really wouldn’t. I’d want you to mourn and berate yourself for all the times you didn’t “Like” one of my posts, didn’t leave a comment, didn’t retweet, didn’t click on an Amazon Affiliate link. And you can see how that’s not fair to you. No, I simply have to keep living. So you can laugh.

I made an appointment with my doctor, who, incidentally, seems to be the same age as my 15 year old daughter. I’d make a Doogie Howser joke if I had the energy, absolutely.

I explained the situation to her and she took notes.

“Can you describe the pain you felt?” she asked and I nodded eagerly.

“I can. Do you want me to start or shall we get some sort of a pain sketch artist in here?” I asked.

Apparently, she was going to fly solo and I used my words.

“Look,” she said, when I finished the Dramatic Retelling of the Pain I Felt, and I was all eyes. “It’s probably nothing but because you have family history of heart disease, why don’t we-”

(And this is where I fast forward through doing an EKG (normal) and then suggesting that we do a stress test, which I readily agreed to, because stress is something of which I have plenty. She also told me to avoid rigorous exercise until we have the test results, and I readily agreed. As a matter of fact, I was a bit ahead of her, since I had been avoiding rigorous and all other kinds of exercise for years, in preparation.)

The morning of the stress test I was prepared. I knew, from reading the instructions at the time I made the appointment, that I had to be alcohol and nicotine-free for 24 hours before the test, which obviously went against my Marlboro Woman image, but anything for science. As I was getting ready, finishing my breakfast and having that last sip of life-affirming coffee, I reviewed the prep sheet I was given. “Do not eat or drink anything at least three hours before the test,” it read. And also, “wear loose clothing.”

Huh, I thought. Huh. On the one hand, the news was good, because I had plenty of slutty clothes that I could wear. On the other hand, the instructions were decidedly ridiculous. Wasn’t breakfast the most important meal of the day, after all? Why were they encouraging me to skip it? I filed it under Bullshit That Doesn’t Make Sense and went to my appointment.

“Good morning,” I good morninged the receptionist. “I am here for a stress test.”

“Great,” she said and then asked for some personal information, such as name, both first and last. That’s when I broken the news of my Last Breakfast to her.

“Oh, it’s fine,” she said. “You’re young, but generally they want people to have an empty stomach in case you have a heart attack and they need to take you to the hospital.”

This was a fine bit of information that I could have done without.

“I’d like the non-heart attack stress test,” I clarified. I was happy to have gotten that out of the way, but she was shaking her head. What? Was I supposed to book the “non-heart attack” option ahead of time?

Eventually the stress testologist came and ushered me into the room.

The test itself was uneventful and perfectly normal, which was a huge relief. Except for the part when my doctor told me that I could resume rigorous exercise.

Obviously I’m taking that news hard.

Maybe I should get a second opinion.


I have some exciting news! Starting in April, I will be hosting the Alpha Mom‘s parenting book club! The first book is Someone Could Get Hurt: A Memoir of Twenty-First-Century Parenthood by Drew Magary. Please check it out and join me over at Alpha Mom on April 10th for thoughtful discussion.

One year ago ...

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

TwoBusy March 23, 2014 at 10:58 am

I’m delighted to hear you’re fine, and look forward to seeing you gazelling (totally a word) up Heartbreak Hill in the Boston Marathon in a few weeks.


awesome dude March 23, 2014 at 11:52 am

Even without reading of your post completely, I was struck by the idea that you are the only one person in this country who will benefit from the Obamacare;
not only the health care should rationed but people should require video proof of reading “Hail Mary” at least 500 times before Stress Test should be approved.
And the nuclear stress test should be done only 15 minutes before death.


Lady Jennie March 23, 2014 at 12:12 pm

I wanted to be sure and leave a comment in case this is the last one you ever read. So here is my comment:

I giggled my way through the entire post, and my condolences on your permission to exercise rigorously once again.


anymommy March 23, 2014 at 12:23 pm

I’m not sure how you brought that back from herrings, but it was brilliant. Glad you are stress approved. I have a huge Bullshit That Doesn’t Make Sense file.


Susan Weinstein March 23, 2014 at 2:07 pm

I was very interested in this post. I am in the dreaded age range for when many women die of this–without even knowing they have been having symptoms! When I take my daily climb up the PATH stairs I wonder will this be it?


alexandra March 24, 2014 at 10:38 am

That is exactly why you can’t die: so we can keep on laughing. If however, it is a heart attack and no one is reading this comment, I will be guilt free, because I always like you everywhere. (and awesome dude is right: the sour cream is bad for you, Marinka)


dusty earth mother March 24, 2014 at 12:04 pm

You are killing me. With laughter, not sour creamed herring.


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