Chris Miksanek - Drivin' Your Life Away

Chris Miksanek - How to detect a heart attack

Chris Miksanek - What to do when you’re in bumper to bumper traffic and you feel a heart attack coming on

Drivin’ Your Life Away   —
Drivin’ Your Life Away
What to do when you’re in bumper to bumper traffic
and you feel a heart attack coming on ...


So I'm driving back from Arby’s with one hand on the wheel and the other on a potato cake when I feel this crushing pain in my chest.

Now, you would think in that instant a hundred thoughts go though your mind. I had just one. I really needed to go to the bathroom, but I didn’t want to because that’s how they found Elvis.
OK, that’s not entirely true. I was also cracking wise to myself mumbling, “this is the big one, Elizabeth.”
So convinced that I was about to join Fred Sanford's wife, I slow down and actually take account of the mess I am leaving behind: the coffee pot is on, my wife doesn’t know my PINs, and I would never get to make amends for the lie I told my grandmother years prior when I said her Holupki was delicious -- in fact, I had hidden it under a half-eaten dumpling when her back was turned.
In short, I'm thinking about dying and not living; which is not good, because as long as I am behind the wheel, the former is a lot more likely than the latter.
I push on towards home where I decide either to ride-out the symptoms or to meet my maker on my own terms (on the sofa, with the remote in my hand).
An hour passes and the pain subsides. Nonetheless, in what will be the only rational response I have during the entire episode, I check-in at the local urgent care facility where I'm told:
a) my symptoms were likely a result of a flu I was just getting over, and,
b) that I'm a reckless fool for toughing-out the chest pains behind the wheel of a two ton SUV.
As it turns out, driving through a myocardial infarction is not a good idea at all. So what should you do when your hands are at ten- and two-o'clock and you feel those pangs of imminent death coming on?
Pull over as soon as possible, the experts say, and dial 911 if you have a cell phone. Or pull into the nearest location where you might find assistance: a service station, restaurant, or hotel, for instance.
“Drive yourself only as a last resort,” says, “because it puts you and others at risk if your condition suddenly worsens.”
Above all, don’t delay and don't self-assess. Even if you can Google your symptoms with your BlackBerry, there are many causes of chest pain ranging from panic attacks to pancreatitis.
Leave the diagnosis to the experts.
Get off the road and get help.
And call your grandmother to tell her you’re sorry. It’s never too late.

  © 2007, 2019 Chris Miksanek
Last updated: 2019 October 24
Contact: chris @