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Creeping pain and a 911 call led to relief — and to an unexpected greeting on the gurney.

So toward the end of a long, lovely lunch with MinnPost colleagues Eric Black, Sharon Schmickle and Judy Borger, I felt a creeping pain in my chest. It leveled off somewhere between distracting and absorbing, and by the time I made it home, I felt uncomfortable breathing.

Realizing that dying due to not calling 911 would really piss off my wife, I picked up the phone, and waited for my first-ever ambulance ride.

The Minneapolis fire guys were there immediately; their quick read of my vitals didn’t scream heart attack. A minute or so later, the ambulance crew was on the scene. After being appraised of my non-demise, the crew’s paramedic asked me a question I wasn’t expecting:

“Hey David, do you recognize me?”

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He did look vaguely familiar.

“Duke Powell.”

I laughed even though it hurt.

Although we’ve never met face-to-face, Duke and I are Twitter friends. Via @dbrauer, I follow him at @dukepowell.

Our politics are as different as can be (Duke was a conservative Republican legislator from Burnsville), but we’re both Coleman-Franken junkies. For some reason, Twitter has been a place where lefties and righties can actually talk to each other; perhaps it’s because the medium is young, or you pick who you follow.

Although he tweets under the “Top Conservatives on Twitter” banner (#tcot in short-message lingo), Duke has steadfastly deflated conspiracists’ hot-air balloons, explaining how the state’s Canvassing Board and jurists have acted in a reasonable, non-ideological way.

Of course, politics doesn’t matter much when you’re strapped to a gurney and wheeled through the snow. But it was definitely reassuring to have a member of my social network be part of my survival network.

Duke expertly threaded my IV (the nurses would later marvel at the precision), gave me the short course on nitroglycerin (a precaution; headaches approaching) and kept it light but not unprofessional. In short, his actions buttressed the trust we’d already established.

If you want to read Duke’s version, check out his new Ambulance Driver blog. I’m Patient #5 on Feb. 27. Don’t worry; Duke doesn’t violate confidentiality here — I’m the one outing myself.

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I’m now back home after a night at Abbott Northwestern, thanks to their equally professional ministrations. Although I had a weird absence of certain symptoms — no fever, no cough — it looks like I have bacterial pneumonia, with a pleurisy chaser. I was well enough to tweet from the hospital (love Abbott’s free wi-fi!), and better after my first gulp of antibiotics.

Don’t worry — I don’t plan to bore you with any more sickblogging, though this post is a nice break from sickbed boredom. Still, I invite commenters to play the game started on Twitter: guess my medical bill.

Details for players: I have high-deductible insurance with a Blue Cross Health Savings Account (thankfully funded) so I qualify for group rates. I had one ambulance ride, five or so hours in ER, a CAT scan, an X-ray, a night in the hospital, probably a dozen blood workups, and visits from a resident, an internal medicine specialist and a pulmonary doc.

I’m thinking in the teens of thousands, but guesses so far have ranged from $3,000 to $20,000. I don’t know what I’ll give the winner, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be around to award the prize.