It's not the ills that getcha, it's the pills that getcha.

I was 20 when I started having the chest pains. I was used to random aches and pains, and kind of busy being a college junior, so I didn't really bother to think about how bad the phrase "chest pains" sounds to other people. Then I accidentally mentioned it to a couple of people who take my health more seriously than I do (those people being my mother and my girlfriend), and got nagged into visiting a doctor.

After the usual battery of tests for the usual causes of chest pain, the doctor determined that my chest hurt because... I have a bad back. No, really, he did. See, I have uncorrected scoliosis -- two fairly large sideways curves in my spine that just shouldn't be there. (These would be responsible for most of my random aches and pains.) Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on one's perspective), the curves are in opposite directions, so my torso still looks straight.

As it turns out, looking straight isn't the same as being straight. My spine has shifted so much that it's moved my ribs out their natural alignment. So I've got a set of not-at-parallel-as-they-should be ribs twisting my sternum. The end result? Inflammation of the sternum's cartiledge, which registers as an arthritus-like pain... in my chest.

But since it wasn't a life-threatening ailment like cancer or heart disease, the doctor said if could be treated with ibuprofen and wrote me a prescription for 800 mg caplets. As it turned out, 800 mg of motrin at once was 200mg more than my stomach could stand, so he switched me to another anti-inflammatory. I spent the next five years popping prescription-strength doses of... Aleve.

Oops.

So now the curse of killer cures has come looking for me, and all I can think is How do know if my heart is bad? I'm taking the stuff for chest pains! Then I think I should stop thinking about it, because thinking about it makes my chest hurt, and I don't health insurance right now, anyway.

Posted at 11:31:22 PM EST on 21 December 2004 from Trenton, MI