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.

10 thoughts on “Pet Please #79: When You Learn That Something You Assumed Was Terrible Isn’t Actually All That Bad”

  1. Fish.

    Growing up, my family had the culinary expertise of a Golden Corral buffet chef. The only fish I ever tasted until college came in the form of a fish stick, and most of them were charred on at least one side. It wasn’t until I worked for a catering company in college that I begrudgingly tasted another piece of fish. (I was starving and we were allowed to eat leftovers.) That grilled tuna steak changed my life. It opened the door not only to fish, but to the idea that many of the things I ate while growing up might actually be tastier outside my home than I’d realized. I’ve since tried many other foods and found that I actually like some of them! (What? Not all ham comes in a can and oozes gelatinous fatty sludge?!? That was news to me too.)

    • I’m so glad you thought of an example outside of the realm of injuries and ailments! Well done, sir. I’m glad you discovered the wide world of fish and other foods.

    • From this story, I’m going to say that, aside from being an all-around great catch, that being a great chef may have what tipped the scales toward proposing to Laura. That, and the red hair.

  2. I thought sushi would be really scary to try. I never really ate it growing up, but once I went with friends and figured out how you eat communally and can share and try and find what you like (and that much of it tastes the same and none of it like a giant, raw, slimy fish), now it’s one of my favorite meals.

    Also, I feel the same way about heartburn. I never knew what it was, I’ve never realized that’s what it is when I am having it, I never think about it. But was glad, like you were, to realize what it was.

      • Yes! I was always scared of sushi until I actually tried it. Now I’ve made it my life’s mission to convert other non-believers!

        I’ve had heartburn exactly one time in my life, and it was awful. It was in August of 2004 in Dallas after I had the Balsamic Chicken Pasta at TGIFridays while visiting some family. I was seriously so traumatized that I remember everything! Mine wasn’t so much the stabbing sensation though, but more of a burning rising up from my stomach that wouldn’t go away–acid reflux, maybe? It was terrible. I was in so much pain and I couldn’t get rid of it to save my life. I really feel for anyone who chronically has it.

  3. I’m a little freaked out by this post because over the weekend my sister said she had bad heartburn. And I seriously asked her what it felt like cause I didn’t know if I’d had it before or not. Weird!

  4. public speaking!
    like most humans, i used to be very uncomfortable speaking in front of people. then i got a job where i have to speak in front of people all the time (usually around 35-50 people at least once a week) and i realized that it isn’t terrible. it’s actually fun and i’m pretty good at it. it will be a very useful skill when i assume my role as ruler of the world.


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