Saturday, October 15, 2016

And then I was weak

Have you ever had a day where small things were happening, and those small things were pointing to something bigger?  But you didn't see it.  You didn't see any of what was about to transpire, barreling toward you, to change your life.  There were signs, and you recognized absolutely none of them.

September 16, 2016 was such a day for me.  I woke up apprehensive, but kept telling myself that I could be strong.  I could do this.  WE could do this.  You see, on that day, my husband and I, along with a friend of ours, were meeting with certain members of my son's school and a state appointed mediator.  Both of my boys have Autism and both struggle with certain aspects of school.  They are mainstreamed into general education classes.  My oldest has a 504 and my youngest has an IEP.  The school year prior was the absolute worst school year of our children's lives, with meeting after meeting, battle after battle, desperately trying to get the school to follow our sons' IEP and 504.  The situation with our youngest son got so bad that I ended up requesting mediation to get help.  And that brought us to that day - September 16.

When I woke up, in an attempt to make myself feel better about my day, I created and posted a motivational post.  Something people may not know is when I post motivational posts, I am often posting them for myself because they reflect where I am in that moment.  I was determined to get through that day - that very, very difficult day.

September 16, 2016 Morning Motivational Post
During that month, I was participating in the Beachbody Health Bet.  Every day we snapped photos of our Shakeology and uploaded the images to the Beachbody Challenge Tracker.  That morning I knew I needed my Shakeology.  So, I made my favorite Shakeology shake - Vanilla blended with frozen fruit - snapped my photo and uploaded it to the tracker.  Instead of writing what I put into the shake, like I usually do, I posted this: Shakeology - take me away! Hopefully this will help get me through an incredibly difficult day.

September 16, 2016 Health Bet Shakeology Post

"Shakeology - take me away! Hopefully this will help get me
through an incredibly difficult day."
That morning was harried.  We had to arrange to get the kids to school, ensure we had all the documents we wanted to have at the meeting, get food to last us through the day, prep a cooler, etc.  The meeting had been scheduled from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and we had been informed we would not be allowed to leave for lunch.  I had to stop off at the grocery store for some fresh food that would align with my nutrition plan.  And, then, to top it off, we all drove to the wrong location (thankfully, the mediator did, too).  In the parking lot of the wrong location, I burst into tears, emotionally fell apart, and my friend prayed for me.

I signed papers that I would not disclose what happened in that meeting, so I won't write anything about that, but that meeting didn't last very long.  I began to feel ill.  I had a very bad feeling.  I asked for permission to leave the room, ran upstairs and outside to get fresh air.  Within a matter of moments I knew I was in Congestive Heart Failure - again - for the 3rd time.  I began to cough up CHF fluid (it looks like blood) and my husband asked the secretary to call an ambulance.

Within a few minutes, the front porch was surrounded by many different medical personnel.  I was put on a stretcher and put in the ambulance.  They began to run tests on me and drove to the Emergency Room.

After the ambulance got to the hospital, they kept me in the ambulance for some more tests.  Why?  I have no idea.  I recall hearing someone say not to take me out of the ambulance until they finished running something.  Then I was wheeled into the trauma room.  And, of course, me being me, I cracked a joke about the trauma room.

Oh.  The trauma room.  I have been there too many times.  And I have stories.  Crazy stories that, yes, I still laugh about.  I'm one of those odd people who can laugh and crack jokes at the most inappropriate times - like when I'm near death's door.

After I got into the trauma room, the hospital staff did what they have done during my Congestive Heart Failure incidents of the past.  They injected me with drug after drug - in hopes to reset my heart.  Nothing was working.  Nothing!  Then they said they needed to cardio convert me.

Oh, hell, no!

I told them I could get myself out of SVT.  So, I started blowing on my thumb.  Of course, through all of this I continued to cough up Congestive Heart Failure fluid making it a little more difficult than usual.  I asked for some ice.  I had nurses looking at me like I was batshit crazy.  Some were asking "What is she doing?"  The ER doctor told a nurse to get me a bucket of ice.  They brought it in.  I slammed my face in it.  I grabbed it and rubbed it on my face.  I looked at the doctor and asked him if it worked.  He shook his head "no."  Another nurse brought me a syringe to blow on.  Some of the confused nursing staff got an education on the various methods, someone with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, has been taught to get themselves out of SVT.

But nothing worked.  The inevitable happened.  They were going to cardio convert me.

Now, if I had known how wonderful being cardio converted would be - for a grand whole 5 minutes or so, I would not have fought it.  They gave me a drug to put me asleep.  I specifically recall dreaming that everything was ok.  That nasty cough was gone.  I dreamt that I felt better.  And then I woke up.  And was told it didn't work.

Seriously?  It didn't work?  Oh well, at least I had 5 minutes of rest in there.

Then it hit me.  It didn't work!!!!  Oh God.  Now what?

So, I did what any sane person, hanging on death's door, would do.  I asked for my phone and snapped a selfie.  Then I posted it to Facebook.

The caption to my Facebook post:

That was one heck of a mediation meeting.
Could use your prayers. The ER can't get my heart to convert.
The ER continued to run tests.  They told me this was either caused by a heart attack or a viral illness that had gotten to my heart, but they had also run thyroid tests and were wondering if it could be caused by that.  They knew, by looking at my records, that I had both Graves Disease and Hashimotos Disease.  Both are thyroid auto-immune disorders that fall at two completely different ends of spectrum and, somehow, I am blessed to have both.  Graves Disease causes hyperthyroidism and Hashimotos Disease causes hypothyroidism.  For me, it can vary which disease is in control.

While in the ER, I did not come out of SVT.  So, when they were able, I was admitted to ICU.  Preliminary thyroid test results came back and my T4 was high.  They put me on anti-thyroid medication.

That evening, after all the hub-bub of nurses, staff and doctors coming in and out began to wane, I finally got a chance to rest.  I was exhausted.  My heart rate had run around the 160 bpm mark for about 6 hours.  Dang!  That could be likened to running a marathon!

Finally, late in the evening, with all the drugs in my system, my heart rate began to come back down.  So, I logged my "workout" in the Beachbody Challenge Tracker.

Caption to my workout post in the Challenge Tracker:

Logged one heck of a cardio workout today: My heart rate
was over 160 for hours. Ever so slowly coming down now.
Throughout the day, I was having a difficult time holding my oxygen level up.  They put me in a full face mask with oxygen blowing so hard it sounded like rushing wind.  Without the full-face mask, for the first days of being in ICU, my oxygen levels kept dropping to around the 80% mark.

Trying to maintain oxygen
While I was in the ER, they did an echo on my heart.  That was when doctors first realized how sick I really was.  My left ventricle ejection fraction was 10%.  That is the weakest my heart has ever been.  That day that could have been the end, became my new beginning.

This ends the story of my Day One.  On this day, I became weak.  On this day, I had to hold on, to fight like crazy... on this day I was looking up, reaching out and seeking strong.