I didn’t think much about the chest pains when they started

I didn’t think much about the chest pains when they started. I figured it was the lingering heartburn from Cathy’s meatloaf casserole back in 2003. I’ve “tasted” that dish through seven Ryder Cups, three presidential terms, six foreign wars, a goat roping in Arkansas and one hundred and twelve family reunions!

When the pain increased recently I went to see a doctor. I was looking for a simple pill to counteract a culinary experience I couldn’t forget from fourteen years ago. Well, five EKG’s, a stress test, an echo cardio graham, a week long marriage to a heart monitor and a two day visit to the hospital for a cardiac catheterization later……they tell me my heart is fine.

That was good news for sure. But it didn’t cure the ongoing pain in my chest. And every doctor, cardiologist and nurse dismissed my meatloaf casserole theory before I could even get to the part where her sisters, our two sons and the family dog wouldn’t take a bite of it!

The heart specialists handed me off to the digestive tract team. I’ve had endoscopies, outdoscopies, 3-D-doscopies…… Complete strangers have looked down my throat with a telescope. I’ve had ultrasounds done on every organ between the gall bladder and the pituitary gland. Nurses and doctors of every pedigree and religious persuasion have poked me in the belly.

They mumble Greek words like “acid reflux” and “hiatal hernia.”

I grew up in a day when all chest plains were either “pleurisy” or “heart dropsy.” And you had to be fairly old to earn them. I remember granny would put a mustard poultice around the victim’s neck. I don’t know what was in it. And I can’t remember if it cured the “dropsy” or not……but I guarantee you it cleared out every nasal passage in the house!

I’m finding out in this wonderful age of modern medicine……there is still a fair amount of guessing going on. And a lot of it is centering on my diet. They think there might be some relationship between what I’m eating and my chest pains. Well, duh, that’s what I’ve been saying from the start!

But they’re not talking meatloaf casseroles unless there is a lot of tomato sauce involved. They want me to cut out all fried foods. Naturally chocolate was on the list. And they told me to limit my intake of mint. I was scratching my head as to how mint could be harmful to anyone when they tossed garlic in as a no no……HEY, I just remembered one of the main ingredients in that poultice granny whipped up!

These experts frowned on Coca-Colas. They were dead set against the caffeine. I tried not to let them see me squirm and I made a silent promise to cut down to four or five diet cokes a day.

They also nixed salt and pepper, spicy foods, coffee, oranges……things that I could take or leave so I figured I was passing the “what foods to avoid” test with flying colors. I was looking forward to being cured in a few days when the big guy down on the end added, “And don’t forget peanut butter. You need to avoid that at all cost.”

Folks, my antenna went up! I had sat though this ordeal determined to be the best patient I could be. I appreciated the help being offered……but they had wandered a tad out of bounds here!

Peanut butter is a staple crop where I come from.

When I refused to eat my Gerber Strained Carrots Mother pacified me by dipping a baby spoon into a jar of Peter Pan creamy peanut butter and sliding it onto my tongue. We didn’t have a cafeteria when me, Leon and David Mark made it to elementary school. Mom mixed peanut butter with bananas and made sandwiches for our lunch.

We ate peanut butter on Premium Saltine Crackers, Graham Crackers, Ritz Crackers, pancakes, apple quarters, loaf bread, cornbread, biscuits, Hershey Bars, toasted marshmallows, fruitcake, Oreo Cookies and corn on the cob. If we didn’t have anything else to smear it on, we stick a butter knife down in the container and eat it “straight.”

We never went camping without a jar of Jif, Skippy or Peter Pan in someone’s bag. We were not going to get caught “lacking” in case the only food the scoutmaster brought along was a few cans of those awful Red Bird Imitation Vienna Sausages.

Peanut butter sustained me through four years of college and the first few years I was out on my on. There’s no way I’m going to abandon it now!

And come to think of it, if I’d a’had an “emergency jar” back in 2003…….I wouldn’t be in the fix I’m in today!