I’ve put off writing this post long enough; it’s now been over 6 months since I almost died in Disney World.
And no, the root cause was not, as one Australian co-worker guessed, a particularly tall and aggressive Goofy. Or an extra-jerky ride on Space Mountain. Or even (fill in other Disney joke here).
I was with my family in Orlando, visiting the parks and our daughter who works there. We were staying at the Caribbean Beach resort, in a pirate-themed room. And in that idyllic setting my heart chose to attack me.
It’s surprisingly common, we learned. Doctors and nurses at the local hospitals refer to my having “failed the Disney stress test”.
We had just enjoyed a giant delicious all-you-shouldn’t-eat buffet breakfast at the (in retrospect ironically named) Trail’s End restaurant, after a short morning at Magic Kingdom. Over my younger daughter’s objection (she lost the vote), we had returned to our hotel room to rest before our planned return to the park later to redeem our cleverly selected highly coveted Fast Passes (Space Mountain and the Seven Dwarves Mine Train). This was one of a few decisions which saved my life, because if we had stayed in the park all day I probably wouldn’t have noticed my fast irregular heartbeat (it might just have felt like the rollercoasters were doing their job). But when you’re lying peacefully in a pirate-themed bed, it seems strange if your heart is racing and skipping beats (after all, I don’t love pirates THAT much) and you notice it.
After an hour of dozing on and off and trying not to wake up my family, I woke up my wife and she confirmed that my heartbeat sounded fast and odd. Consequently we told our daughters to “go on ahead back to the park; we’ll catch up with you after a quick stop at the nearest hospital to make sure that everything’s perfect.” Our daughter the Disney cast member, half asleep, informed us that she had heard great things about the Celebration Hospital, so off we went.
What happened next? Stay tuned for my next post (spoiler alert: I lived!)