Note: Would would have thought that a 26 year old black man in America would be diagnosed with a heart condition? I simply can't believe it!

Early last week, during the DNC, I started getting raspy-voiced and a little sore at the back of my throat. The on-call doc said it might be allergies and told me to try Claritin. I saw that Claritin cost $25 but the CVS generic brand was only $8, so I went with that. Sure enough things cleared up a bit, and I was able to keep trying to save American democracy for the rest of the week.

By Friday, however, I started having actual chest pains, difficulty breathing, and more pain when I lay down. I think this was probably part of slavery conditioning back in the day. "Let's make it hurt when they want to rest. That way, they'll want to pick more cotton!" Genius.

After trying to get a doc on the phone Monday morning, I decided to just visit the doc's office, and that's when the adventure with the US healthcare system began.

First I went to Medical Walk-In and waited around for maybe 40 minutes. Got to see a nurse who took the blood pressure and temp (all normal) and waited for maybe 30 minutes when I saw the doc. After hearing my tale, he ordered up a chest x-ray and EKG from the labs upstairs. The chest x-ray experience was cool, but when I got to EKG, they said they were closed (at 4pm) and sent me back down to walk-in.

There I got to wait for another 30 minutes and had the EKG. I was expected to be put in a big tube with all sorts of scanners and lasers, but they wheeled out this tiny cart the size of a sewing machine and plugged a bunch of electrodes in me Matrix-style. The nurse took the reading, and yes, I went back to the waiting.

A few minutes later the doc came out and said my results were abnormal and he wanted to talk to me about them. Maybe an hour later, we had that conversation, and he showed me the charts. Turned out I seemed to have something called "acute pericarditis." First of all, that's a kick-ass name. Second of all, huh?

This is something that happens when the lining of your heart gets inflamed. They're not sure how it happens, but I do remember watching a lot of Dick Cheney speeches. I'm just sayin.

Doc man calls up a cardiologist to discuss the results, and they recommend I head over to the ER to get an "echo cardiogram." The ER means more waiting of course. First I sign my name in and wait. Then I get called to a woman behind a computer and she verifies my name, address, and all the info I verified twice at medical walk-in. Then I wait. Then I get taken behind a glass wall where I'm interviewed again about my symptoms. I show the young residents my EKG chart, and they give me lots of oooohs and ahhhhs.

I have a classic case of pericarditis, and they want a copy. About six medical folks swarm around me. I'm suddenly very popular!

(to be continued)