The Kevlar Tube

Brian GilhamEssays

Your fiancé’s chest hurts. The doctors find clots. Big ones. You’re thankful they found them. She’s in the hospital for a week. Constant pain. Blood-thinning medication until who-knows-when. Trips cancelled. Time off work.

The day she came home from the hospital, someone stole your bike. Asshole.

The dog gets hurt. A stick went into his chest. Impaled, really. He needs surgery. Expensive surgery. What else is there to do? Stitches, a tube coming out of his chest. He’ll be fine.

Hours spent in hospitals of every stripe. Keep moving.

Then your chest hurts. You’re at work. Sharp, at first, then dull. Then heavy. Then your left arm feels numb. Is this a heart attack? You look up “symptoms of a heart attack.” That was a bad idea.

Don’t take chances.

You vaguely explain why you aren’t at work. It’s too embarrassing.

The doctors are great. Lots of machines. Two rounds of blood tests. A needle in your hand. Waiting. Oh, the waiting. And questions.

When’s the last time you ate? It’s hard to remember.

Then, nothing. You’re fine. No heart attack. Stress, most likely. You haven’t been sleeping much. You’re young.

You don’t feel young.

An ER doc comes by to take the needle out of your hand, five hours later.

“Getting that needle out will be the highlight of my month.”

He smiles. “Actually, it’s not a needle anymore. Now it’s a thin kevlar tube.”

And you laugh. A crazy laugh.

Who cares?