I had an odd medical experience recently I want to share with you, HIPAA be damned.

While trimming my beard on a Monday morning, I suddenly became dizzy. I sat down for a while and the feeling abated, so I stood up and resumed the whisker-shortening process. I had barely finished when the dizziness returned, but more intensely.

I laid down on my bed and the room started spinning. I wasn’t nauseous, but I couldn’t even lift my head off the pillow. As I lay there, I remembered something my cardiologist told me when I had two stents put in three years ago. He informed me that of the three electrical connections between the top and bottom of the heart, two of mine were no longer working. However, he assured me that I could still function normally with the remaining one.

As you might expect, this freaked me out a bit. I asked what would happen if the third connection blew. Would I just drop to the floor dead? No, he said, but you’ll get very tired and dizzy and have to lie down. Then call me and I’ll put in a pacemaker.

At this point on that day, I was sure that’s what was happening in my body, and when I still couldn’t stand up after a half-hour on my back, I asked my wife to help me get dressed and take me to the emergency room at the best cardiac care hospital in our area to find out what the hell was going on.

She got me downstairs and into the car, where I had to lean the passenger seat all the way back. Meanwhile, she sped to the hospital like a getaway driver. She later told me she kinda hoped she’d be pulled over by a cop for speeding so she could explain that I was having a medical emergency and they’d give us an escort with lights and sirens.

That didn’t happen, but she got us to the ER door in record time. An orderly brought out a wheelchair and pushed me to the triage desk so I could tell a nurse what was happening. She asked me a bunch of questions and had another nurse check my vitals and do an EKG. I guess those results weren’t terribly abnormal, because neither of them acted like I could die any second.

After sitting in the waiting area for a half-hour, I was taken to an open bed in the emergency department, where I explained again to another nurse that it had now been an hour since the dizziness set in and I was still feeling it. She hooked me up to another EKG machine, put the pulse-ox thing on one of my fingers, took some blood, and put an IV tube into my right arm, just in case I needed medication at some point.

With my wife sitting next to me, we waited for a physician to come in and assess my situation. I lay there, tried to get the room to stop spinning, and told the nurse I was having occasional tingling in my toes. She nodded her head, typed it into the report she was assembling on her laptop, and told me not to worry. I told her I was very thirsty and asked for some water, but she said I couldn’t have anything until a doctor examined me.

The ER was surprisingly busy for the middle of a Monday, so it took a couple of hours for a doctor to get to me. Fortunately, he’d had the time to read my chart, including my past health history, and I was happy to not have to repeat my story yet again. I asked if this was the cardiac electrical brownout I’d been warned about three years earlier. He said no, because nothing like that showed up on my EKG. However, he was worried that I might have had a stroke, even though I wasn’t slurring my words and my face wasn’t drooping. Still, he insisted on doing an MRI so he could be sure my brain wasn’t damaged in some way.

I’m pretty sure I heard my wife snickering to herself.

I wasn’t happy with the prospect of being shoved into the MRI tube because I suffer from claustrophobia. The only other time I’d been in one — over twenty years ago — I couldn’t take it and squeezed the little rubber bulb to tell the technician to get me out of there. In that instance, I was able to get the images done in an open MRI, where my fear of tight spaces wasn’t an issue. But the ER doctor told me they didn’t have such a machine, so it would have to be done in a traditional one. However, he gave me a medication called Ativan to relax me, and it worked, because I managed to stay still through the entire 22-minute procedure without doing an imitation of Charles Bronson trapped in the tunnel in “The Great Escape.”

When I was pulled back out, I knew not to ask the MRI technician how the images looked because they won’t say anything unless they see a big empty space where your brain should be (those cases usually come in wearing a MAGA hat). So, it was back to my ER bed to await the results. By this time, the dizziness had gone away, but I still wanted to hear the medical verdict. The doctor returned and said everything inside my skull looked normal, I hadn’t had a heart attack, and that my blood tests showed nothing out of the ordinary.

His diagnosis was that I must have had a serious case of vertigo, which is my wife’s least favorite Alfred Hitchcock movie, but fit my symptoms perfectly. He explained it’s not uncommon — and age is not a factor. In other words, it could happen to anyone. He gave me a prescription for Meclizine pills, which would help the next time the feeling came over me.

Relieved after what had been an eight-hour ordeal mostly consisting of waiting — it’s not like I had to be rushed into an operating room for treatment of a gunshot wound or a steak knife stuck in my back — we called our daughter to tell her about the day and that there was nothing to worry about. Next, I filled in my brother, who told me he’d had vertigo a few times as a teenager, which I don’t think I ever knew.

I also called my lawyer, whose chest was cracked a few years ago when he underwent cardiac bypass surgery and was glad to hear mine wasn’t. He told me his wife and daughter had both suffered from bouts of vertigo recently — and not for the first time. In the ensuing week, two other friends told me similar stories.

So, rather than a life-ending power blackout in my chest, I’d encountered nothing more than a fairly common inner-ear issue. And I won’t have to ask the wizard for a heart or brain

Or courage. Although¬†I’ll admit I did utter an “ouch” when the nurse pulled the EKG adhesive tabs off my chest hair.