So much times past since my last update. What began as a dream turned into a nightmare.
I was relatively healthy with the exception of a back with twenty years of abuse from working as a Paramedic. I had a new (at the time) procedure ten years ago when I had a spinal fusion. At the time they told me I was disabled, I proved them wrong. There's been other injuries and surgeries. Torn labrum's, and rotator cuffs in the shoulders. Torn up knees. Too many years lifting too many people in a young man's game. It's what I loved.
I loved every minute of it. Everything I did, I did to the best of my ability.
I started having chest pain in May of 2012. I would be on a call and afterwards have chest pain. I would have my partner perform a 12 and 15 lead EKG. I was highly surprised to see signs indicating damage. The period from June 2011 through the time I was forced to stop working on August 14, 2012 was pure torture. I worked despite my knees being so swollen and painful I had to have my partner help me up if I got down on the floor. I have a history of tachycardia, rapid heart rate. From the time I became sick in May Of 2011 until I had my diagnosis in May Of 2012 I was unable to take my heart medicine because my blood pressure was too low. There were day's I would stand up in the back of the ambulance and pass out.
Despite having all the signs indicating a tick borne illness, my doctor finally sent me to a Rheumatologist in May Of 2012. Two weeks later we got a panicked call from her. I had both Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. The tests indicated I had them all along. She got me right into an infectious disease specialist. He started Doxycycline immediately and I took it for eight months in all. There were some attempts at IV antibiotic therapy for a month each. In the end, it was too late.
I continued having episodes of chest pain which were becoming more frequent. I had been fighting constant respiratory infections and lymphadenopathy in my lungs and neck which they were unable to determine the cause.
I scheduled a cardiac stress test which was performed on July 31, 2012. During the test I thought I was going to die. I had never felt such pain. I left the hospital which was an hours drive to await the results.
Well, I didn't have cell service for most of the drive home because I had frantic voice mails from the Cardiologist. I had failed the stress test and needed to return for an emergency heart catheterization.
It was late in the day when I listened to the voicemails. I called over and arranged to be at the hospital first thing the next morning. We woke up and I was having some chest pain. It was an hours drive to the hospital. I had changed jobs in the spring and the ambulance service I was working for was nowhere near where I worked or lived.
Once we arrived and they learned I was having chest pain it became a Cardiac Alert. I was taken straight to the ER and they hit me from all sides. Oxygen, IV's, aspirin, and Nitroglycerin. I was only in the ER about ten minutes before they had me in the cardiac catheterization lab.
The catheter was inserted into my right radial artery. It hurt so bad! A Nitroglycerin infusion was initiated. The cath revealed abnormal coronary artery anatomy and that I was having chest pain caused by spasm of the coronary arteries. No abnormal heart wall motion, no blockage. I have since found out two of my heart valves are leaking and my heart is enlarged, but that stems from all the damage to my lungs. I stayed overnight and was discharged the next day with a prescription for Nitroglycerin and orders to start taking baby Aspirin daily.
I continued having chest pain with any exertion. It seemed to get worse. I went back to work for the first time on August 14, 2012. My partner and I had finished our rig checks and chores when I got a phone call. It was a Paramedic I know from the town my mom lived in. He was calling out of professional courtesy. My dad had gone to town and returned and found her in her chair. She had passed away. He wanted to let me know there was nothing that could have been done. I left work and picked up my wife and kids and headed straight down. My dad was devastated. They had been together since I was 3-4 years old. 30+ years together. She was far from perfect but she was human and she was his everything.
That ended up being the last day I worked. My wife and I had been talking about her going to work and she had an offer of full time employment starting August 16. It was on nights and her first night was on the night of my moms funeral. I hated her being gone nights. The place was short handed and after taking out for our insurance she wasn't bringing in enough to get us by. A man losses his pride really fast when he has three kids to feed.
Times were hard. The girls were in school. My wife was working nights and working overtime. When she wasn't working she was sleeping. I had a three year old boy to care for. I did what I had to do.
I became very ill with a respiratory infection in September. I had them off and on since I was first ill. It was nonstop antibiotics. I was taking breathing treatments all the time, I was scared. We had never determined why the lymph nodes in my lungs were swollen. In late October I was at the doctors office yet again. I was very ill. I gave a sputum sample and got a call when the results came in. I had beta hemalytic strep pneumonia. They started me on some different antibiotics but I just became sicker. The night of October 19, 2012 I woke up with a fever of 107.9. That's not a typo. I have never been so sick. My wife was working. I called and told her I was running a fever that high, she probably thought I was nuts until we retook my temperature. She took me straight to the ER. I don't recall much of what happened. For some reason they admitted me instead of shipping me out someplace with specialty services. I ended up going into heart failure, had a chest CT that revealed some nasty stuff. After 6 days they shipped me out to a University Hospital. The doctors there were dazed and confused. I laid there for two days, never saw a Cardiologist or Pulmonologist.
I had to get a new Cardiologist with my new insurance. I love the guy. He did tests and found the leaking heart valves, atrial enlargement, and found that I had pulmonary hypertension. All missed by my Pulmonologist. I was placed on long acting nitrates for the Angina.
I continued having problems breathing. I was in the ER at least once per month. January, February, March. My doctors office loved me. Seems as if I was there at least twice a month. My out of pocket maximum was met by the middle of February. This ER so called doctor came in and listened to me on March 3, 2013. No x-ray, no labs. He told me I had bronchitis and sent me home. I was going through so much Albuterol I ran out early. My doctor ordered a chest CT on March 22, 2013. The results were alarming.
Arrangements were made for a lung biopsy as soon as my cardiologist cleared me for surgery. The day before my cardiologist appointment I received a call from the Pulmonologist office, he had suffered a heart attack and I needed to arrange to find a new Pulmonologist.
I had an overnight oxygen study performed. I was shocked to discover my oxygen levels were dropping into the 50's for prolonged periods of time throughout the night. I was immediately placed on oxygen at night.
I was perfectly healthy prior to being bitten by those damn ticks. My life has been stolen. A positive lyme test was in my file. Nobody acted on it for one year. Nevermind the fact there were no testing for coinfections performed and I lived with the untreated Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever untreated for a year.
My wife and I have been separated since May. The reasons do not matter at this point. I moved out at her insistence the first of August.
We are going our separate ways. We had 21 years, would have been 22 in February.
Looking back maybe the dream wasn't ours to share. Perhaps it wasn't a nightmare. I never would have envisioned ending this blog this way.
It was supposed to end long from now. With a picture of our house. Maybe pictures of us sitting on the porch.
God chose me. He gave me a horrible illness and a steady stream of challenges. So even though it is not the ending we thought it was going to be, it really is not an ending at all.
It's a new beginning. A chance to make new dreams and overcome new challenges. God has given me a voice and the ability to communicate. There will be a new beginning and the dreams remain.
I started typing this update in July. I have finally healed enough to post it. This is closure on this chapter of my life and the opening of the next. God Bless. October 1, 2013