After showering, I lay down in bed and started thinking. Though I am a 50-year-old guy with a stressful job and a little too much around the middle, I had a clean bill of health. I had good cholesterol numbers and a great doctor, and recently I had passed a cardiac stress test.
That's when Tim Russert popped into my head. In the last couple of weeks, like almost every middle-age man, I had taken a very personal interest in every detail of his story. Yes, he was overweight. But hadn't he just passed a stress test?
That's when the light went on. I bolted out of bed, went to the computer and Googled "How do you know you are having a heart attack?" The first Web site that popped up was a list of warning signs from the American Heart Association. As I read on, I started to sweat.
"Shortness of breath." Check.
"Chest discomfort." Perhaps, though it really didn't feel like much.
Ignoring the Web site's advice to call 911 (I was too vain to have an ambulance pull up to my house), I drove to the hospital.
When I stepped up to admissions desk the nurse asked why I was there. "Mild chest pains," I said. "How old?" she asked. "Fifty," I replied.
She nonchalantly turned to the orderly and said, "Hey, Lenny, we got another one." I guess many men, stunned by Mr. Russert's sudden death, were doing just the same thing I was.