I walked out of the Return of the King!
But, it wasn’t really my fault.
I got my tickets for the midnight showing a week ago, and we got there about quarter past eleven on Tuesday. Went in, found our seats, sat back to watch the crowd. Only a few in costume, but the midnight show is always a colorful bunch. Lot of Tolkien geek kids dragging their parents along… and a few Tolkien geek parents dragging their kids along. In my case, my kid and I are both major Tolkien geeks, so we fit right in.
About five minutes before midnight, the previews started. Just about that time, I noticed a slight discomfort a couple of inches below my left shoulder blade. I had been shoveling snow that afternoon, so I didn’t think anything more about it.
By the time that Gandalf and Pippen arived at Minas Tirth, I could barely think of anything else. Every time I took a deep breath, it felt like someone was sticking a dagger in my back. I twisted and squirmed in my seat, trying to find a comfortable position – and failing utterly.
By the time Pippen lit the beacon (a fantastic scene, by the way), I knew I wasn’t going to make it. I could only breath in shallow gasps, until I needed more air, when I would take a deep breath, resulting in such pain that I couldn’t take another breath for a moment or two. I determined to stick it out as long as I could, but each moment it got worse.
Just as Aragorn and company rode into the Paths of the Dead, I told my daughter (who knew something was up – my wimpering had alerted her) that we had to go. Leaving her to gather up our belongings, I staggered out to the lobby.
It was apparent that I couldn’t drive – I could barely breathe. What the hell was it? Was it just muscle strain from shoveling? Way too much pain. A kidney stone? Too high on the back. A heart attack? No chest pain, no referred pain in the arm, nothing.
The theater staff called 911 for me. By the time the ambulance got there, I was lying on a bench in the lobby, gasping for breath, and writhing in agony. I looked up at my daughter and said “My brother… my captain… my King”. She was not amused.
The ambulance crew put me on oxygen, and loaded me into the rig. It was about ten miles to the hospital – a 20 to 30 minute ride this time of year. The oxygen seemed to help, probably because I didn’t have to breathe as hard. By the time we reached the hospital, I in somewhat less pain, and could breathe a little more easily.
At the ER, the staff ran an EKG, which was normal. No heart attack. They took a chest X-ray. No broken ribs, no pneumothorax. They took a urine sample. No kidney stone. They listened to my chest, and they took blood samples, all of which came out negative. They were stumped.
They finally decided that I probably had a low-grade pneumonia, gave me some antibiotics and Percoset, and sent me home. By that time I was, if not comfortable, at least somewhat more so.
So I missed two-thirds of the movie! And what I saw of it was brilliant! My daughter is off to see the rest of the movie this evening, but I won’t be able to leave the house for another two days! I hope to see it on Saturday… if I can wait that long!
My first thread, by the way.