Pet Please #79: When You Learn That Something You Assumed Was Terrible Isn’t Actually All That Bad

This might be the most vague pet please yet, but bear with me–I think you’ll understand why I left it open-ended.

The other day at work, a coworker came into my office to get some Tums (people have to walk through my office to get to the bathroom). She said that she had really bad heartburn.

I trust this coworker with my naïveté, so I asked her a question that I’ve wondered my entire life: “What exactly does heartburn feel like?”

You see, for 31 years (yes, I was pondering this question as a toddler), I’ve put heartburn in the same category as turf toes, lupus, and lockjaw. That is, Unusual Ailments That I Could Have Without Knowing It. Heartburn is the poster boy of this group because it’s on so many commercials.

So I waited with bated breath to finally know what heartburn was. My coworker explained that it felt like a stabbing sensation in your chest, especially when breathing. She said that the first time she felt it, she thought she was having a heart attack.

I cannot express how good this was to hear. On rare occasions throughout my life, I have been laying in bed or watching TV, and suddenly my chest will clench up. It feels like a dozen knives in my lungs. “Here comes the big one,” I always thought, swearing I’d never eat fried chicken again. (This inevitably was followed by the thought, “Oo, fried chicken! It’s been too long since I had that.”)

Seriously, I’ve always assumed I was having very minor heart attacks. So it was such a huge relief to know that what I had experienced was only heartburn! And relatively minor heartburn at that–apparently some heartburn doesn’t go away for minutes or hours.

I know this is a broad topic, but perhaps you have something similar to share. Something that you weren’t able to put a name to, and then when you finally realized what it was, it really wasn’t that bad at all.