Yes I have been missing in action for quite some time now; since Thanksgiving to be exact. We all have those moments when our life seems to spin out of control and it’ not of our own doing. So it was with me this winter.
I started the holiday season with the best of intentions, even getting a jump on cards and decorating. December 8th we were going to see the huge Christmas pageant held at the First Baptist Church of Fort Lauderdale. It’s an extravaganza that [to me] outshines the show at Radio City (and I have seen them both). It takes over one thousand volunteers to pull it all together and the job they do is bar none! I highly recommend that anyone who finds themselves in the South Florida area during Christmas season do whatever it takes to see this show.
This year we were going to have a houseguest. Christy is a client, a busines partner, and most of all, a dear friend. James and I were really looking forward to sharing some of our Christmas traditions with her.
The day after the pageant, we were going to have a small open house with family (James’ sister was visiting as well) and a few close friends. As we were preparing for the event, James broke out in a sweat and in what seemed like mere moments, went from perfectly healthy (or so we thought) to full blown influenza! He was burning with fever, had the chills, was weak as a kitten and finally had to be sequestered to bed!
It was too late to call off the party, so Christy and I played the happy holiday hosts, giving everyone James’ regrets at not being able to join the celebration.
It was a late night for Christy and me, and by the time we fell into our respective beds, we were hoping that sleep would come fast and furiously. After all, the next morning Christy was catching a plane back to New Jersey. She had a class to teach that Monday evening. Neither of us expected to wake up feeling like we were about to die at any moment. Yes during the night, she and I had both come down with the same flu that knocked James off his feet the night before!
Of course Christy had to cancel her plans to travel home, heck she could barely get out of bed. As for me, I remember feeling that death would be a welcome relief. Okay, maybe I am being a little melodramatic, but if you were one of those stricken with this year’s awful and most deadly flu in decades, you know exactly what I mean! Still, with Christy out of commission and James almost unable to lift his head off his pillow, someone had to go out and purchase cold and flu meds, juice, and soup, not to mention the fact that we have two puppies that had to be walked… five times a day!
Don’t ask me how, but I managed to drag my butt out of bed and do this for the first two days on my own. By the third day, James had regained some strength and was able to alternate the dogs’ walks with me. After a few days, he and Christy both felt… I can’t say “well” or even “better” for that matter; but I will say stronger. Christy, who must have been dying to be in the comfort of her own bed, was able to book a flight back home. As she and James got stronger, I seemed to be getting weaker. I tried to talk myself out of it, even thinking that I may be feeling so weak because with James on the mend I was somehow allowing it for myself. It was no use, I felt weaker than I had felt since I was hospitalized with hepatitis over a dozen years ago. I had even passed out on my way back to bed from the bathroom and woke up on the floor to Theo licking my face. There was nothing left to do so I changed the sheets in the guestroom and bunked in there as not to sabotage James’ recovery process.
Two days later, he went out very early in the morning to walk one of the dogs. I tried to lift myself out of bed and found that each time I so much as tried to hold my head up, I would feel as though I were about to pass out again. That’s when it dawned on me; I was dehydrated. I most likely brought it on myself by not allowing myself to rest enough when I was first stricken. I needed to go to the emergency room to get placed on an I V as soon as possible. I was not going to be able to drink myself back into hydration at this stage of the game.
As James literally was dragging me across the room over his shoulder to get me to the car, our phone began to ring. A call before 6:00 AM could never be good news. James set me down into a chair and picked up the phone. It was my sister Maureen. She was calling us from a different hospital close to where she and my father live. My dad had suffered a stroke and was taken there by the EMS.
James explained to Maureen that he was on his way to St. Mary’s with me and that with our bad flus; it would not be wise to visit my dad while he was trying to recover from a stroke. We would have to be in touch via texting this morning and then by phone until we became well enough not to risk my dad’s health.
I was given two I V bags of nourishment and released that evening. My dad on the other hand was going to need a procedure to mend a “space” that had grown between two chambers of his heart. The space was being blamed for the stroke, as it restricted blood flow to his brain. We all sat on pins and needles until at last, the news came. The procedure was a success and dad was expected to have a full recovery!
He was released in time for us to all celebrate Christmas as a family feeling we had our own Christmas miracle to be thankful for!
The week between Christmas and New Year’s was dedicated to work. Our event company, Dazzle Creative Events, was producing a New Year’s Eve blast for a client who has been throwing this annual celebration for many years with us. It’s a big job that requires putting a level, solid floor over a terraced area of sand and shrubs that leads down to the beach. It also requires tenting it along with extensive lighting and décor.
As we worked on this project, I felt a mild pain throughout my left arm. Finally after a successful party and the major teardown/load out, I was feeling enough of a stress in the arm to pay a visit to the ER (for the second time in two weeks) to have it checked out.
While the doctor and staff wanted to check my heart, I tried tirelessly to explain that it was not anything to do with my heart (I had even undergone an EKG two weeks prior when I was there for dehydration). Whatever the culprit was, I was certain it had nothing to do with my heart. My pleas fell upon deaf ears and I was admitted for a 48 hour heart test. I understand that given my family history (my biological father died of a heart attack at the age of 39) they did not want to take a chance. However two days later, I was given the good news that my heart was “strong as a bull.” So that Saturday evening they released me from St. Mary’s saying that the pain in my arm was most likely caused by sleeping on it funny and that I should just try to work it out.
As we entered our home, I was surprised to see that James had taken down all of the ornaments from our Christmas tree. He had also arranged for workers to come take down all of the outdoor lights to save me the work after my hospital scare. We were both tired and after a brief dog walking, we retired to bed for the night.
The follow morning the men arrived to take down the lights from our house. James headed off to Costco to do some shopping and I took all the lights off and disassembled our tree. Once that was complete, my next job was to place all of the heavy boxes of ornaments and lights on the shelf I had built over the garage door many years ago, to store them away until needed next year. After setting up the ladder, I came into the house for a glass of cold water. As I headed back towards the door that leads out to our garage, I was suddenly made aware of a song that was playing on the radio. It was the song “Who Knew” that I had blogged about a while ago. It’s one of two songs that my mother had never known but for my own reasons, they still remind me of her. I stayed inside the house to listen to the song all the way through, talking out loud to my mother asking if she was letting me know that she was here with me and perhaps was wishing me a happy New Year. Maybe she was telling me she was glad that I received a clean bill of health from the hospital? As the last few bars of the song played, I got up once again to head to the garage but to my surprise [and shock] my other song for my mom came on – literally back-to-back from the first one! Now I got a little more serious and asked out loud if there was a reason she was letting me know that she was with me. I no sooner got the words out when something extremely supernatural happened to me. Suddenly my left arm felt as though it had been slipped into a tight sleeve; like the kind from a diver’s wetsuit or something. My arm would not bend. Then a voice whispered into my right ear, “Call James now and tell him to come home. You need to go back to the ER. You have a blood clot!” The voice was nondescript and I cannot say it was my mothers or even if it were male or female. What I can tell you is that it was clear and real enough to make me do just that; call James with the news. He wasted no time in getting home and before long we found ourselves entering St. Mary’s once again. We didn’t even wait in the waiting room or sign-in. We went straight into the ER. The doctor and a couple of nurses from when I was there prior, seemed surprised to see me and asked me what I was doing back again so soon. Without hesitation I answered, “I have a blood clot somewhere on my left side. That’s what is wrong with my arm!” They seemed to roll their eyes in synchronization. The very looks on their faces exposed their thoughts, “Here we go again! Just what we needed, another hypochondriac with a self-diagnosis!”
When James saw their expressions he angrily demanded, “This man knows his body. If he says he has a blood clot you better damn well check him for one… now!”
We had to wait a while for the test. They needed to call someone to come in to do it, as there was no one there on Sunday morning to give an ultra sound/sonogram. But once the test was given, I no sooner was wheeled back into the ER from the ultra sound room when the doctor turned to me to say, “You have a blood clot alright, left clavicle.” As it turned out, if I had lifted the heavy boxes as I had planned, I would most likely had died from a sudden massive stroke or at the very least caused massive irreversible damage to my heart. It was the music that prevented me from going into the garage to lift the boxes. The strange voice in my ear telling me to call James is what brought me back here. Had my mother just save my life?
I was admitted and had to stay there until they could thin my blood. I needed my cumadin level to be somewhere between 2.0 and 3.0. I was only a one at the moment and it goes up in single point increments. In other words I was 10 increments away from the 2.0 that I needed as a minimum. Because my body has its own awesome immune system and works at clearing things up that seem wrong to it, they were having difficulty getting my blood to thin out. It seems as my blood thinned, my brain was aware that it was not at its normal thickness and would send messages to my body to “thicken” it up again. Finally after 12 days of medication and twice daily injections into my stomach of Lovenox, I reached the illusive 2.0 mark! I was released that afternoon with a Rx for 15 mgs of Cumadin and an appointment to be tested that Thursday at the hematologist office. I was happy to be home after what seemed to me to be almost the entire month of January in the hospital. My rejoicing was short lived however. When Thursday rolled around (three days after my release) I went to get tested only to find out that I was back to square one. It seems that St. Mary’s released me too soon. They should have kept me there to see where my levels would be once removed from the lovenox injections. They wanted me to go back in. I begged and pleaded, “Wasn’t there anything I could do on my own from home to solve the problem?” The hematologist finally agreed to let me stay home if I stayed in bed, and if they could get a lovenox prescription filled for me to inject into my stomach on my own twice a day. After four calls to different pharmacies, it didn’t look good but finally a couple of hours later the gal at the doctor’s office called me back. They were able to get me the lovenox from the department of health of all places! It took an additional two weeks of injections to get back on track but I am happy to report, that I have a perfect cumadin level of 2.5 and I no longer need the injections! My black and blue stomach was happy about that.
As for my clot, it will take at least six months to go away but I am pleased that I am on the mend. I promise to come back even stronger than before. Once I get the okay, I plan on joining the gym and getting back to my old self after a long, long health hiatus. Between crumbling bones, neuropathy, and myopathy, it’s been an uphill climb. Today I am thrilled to say that I feel as though I have reached the top of the mountain. It’s time to take a minute to enjoy the view and start the descend back to normalcy again.
PS Just an FYI, it seems the culprit that caused the blood clot was the dang IV from my dehydrating episode! Go figure?
Until next time,