Friday, August 23
“Have you tried sitting up since you’ve been here?” asked Dr. S.
“No.” I shook my head, “I’ve been afraid to. The last time I tried, about 4 months ago, I was laid out completely for almost a month.” I responded.
“Do you want to try it now? It’s been what, almost 6 weeks since you’ve been here?”
“Well, I guess, but just a little at a time.”
Williams adjusted my reclining wheelchair from its current flat, 180 degree position, to a 45 degree angle. It felt strange but good to be this much closer to upright. I haven’t been able to sit upright for over a year.
Within a few minutes, I was feeling the familiar pressure in my head and lungs building. The same pressure as if I was being held upside down. Dr. S was talking but I wasn’t able to follow what was being said. It was like my hearing was going and things were quickly turning silent. I asked my aide Williams to put the blood pressure cup on my arm. I could see the readout on the table. I was disappointed but felt relief that at least I had proof of how I was feeling. I interrupted Dr. S and pointed to the readout.
“Hmmm, 170 over 100, that’s not what I was hoping for. It is quite strange, really. OK, you can lower his seatback again.”
I allowed myself to hope it was going to be different this time. No worries, though. It is early in the game and I still have plenty of faith.
In 10 minutes we retook my blood pressure and it was back to the usual 120 over 80. I was feeling much better and the heavy brain fog improved dramatically, although not completely.
We discussed my treatment plan for next week. After 6 weeks of detoxing, I was to start taking a parasite cleanser on Monday, but only under the supervision of a nurse. Evidently I could get very sick from it and they wanted to make sure they would be able to “reverse” any ill effects if necessary.
I left the safe house that is Dr. S’s office and headed directly for my 6:00 lymphatic drainage appointment.
Even before the massage began, lying on the table I felt a sharp pain on the left/center part of my chest. I mentioned it to Deborah, my masseuse, and she asked if I still wanted to move forward with the massage. I said yes.
The pain was getting worse now. It radiated from the center of my chest up through my jaw and to my head. Headache was getting unbearable. I made her stop.
“It can’t be acid reflux,” I managed to get the words out through the pain. “I just took a Prilosec a little over an hour ago… and I haven’t eaten anything.”
Deborah massaged my jaw and head but there was no improvement. I tried to sit up a little, thinking maybe it was gas or indigestion. Pain was severe now and getting worse.
“What do you want to do? Deborah asked, holding my hand.
I didn’t respond right away. I knew the symptoms of a heart attack and this matched the symptoms pretty well. I also knew that due to my blood clotting factors I was an extremely high risk of a heart attack or stroke. Since my illness began 2 ½ years ago, I have had my fill of hospitals. I hadn’t had to go to the hospital ER in almost 9 months and didn’t want to ruin that streak.
I waited a little while longer, but the pain kept getting more severe. Lord, I don’t know what is happening, but I will follow you wherever you take me.
“Call Dr. S’s office,” I said reluctantly.
A few minutes later an ambulance was on the way. Damn, another hospital.
In the ambulance the EMT asked, “Where is the pain?”
I told her.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, what level is your pain?”
She administered an EKG and gave me 4 baby aspirin.
“Do you feel any better?”
She pulled the EKG stickers off my chest. “Sorry about that. I know it hurts.”
“Make that a 10 out of 10,” I said. She laughed.
She administered a spray of nitroglycerin under my tongue.
After a few minutes, “Do you feel any better?”
She administered a second spray of nitroglycerin under my tongue.
After a few more minutes, “Do you feel any better?”
“Yes. The pain is much better. Down to a 3.”
“A 3? Very good!”
Hmm, pain went away with nitroglycerin sprays. That was not good for anyone rooting against a heart attack.
My cell phone rings.
“Hello, Michael? This is Dr. S. How are you feeling now?”
I told him my situation and he said he was glad I was on my way to the ER.
“I will give you my cell number. Have the doctor in the ER call me if necessary.”
We hung up and I saw there was a new voice mail message on my cell phone.
I listened to it. “Hello. This is Dr. S. I heard you are having severe chest pain. I am sorry. We shouldn’t have had you try to sit up. I thought we were helping you. I will try to call you again shortly.” I thought of Dr. S and suddenly the sadness overwhelmed me. I couldn’t wait to tell him it wasn’t his fault. I knew this chest pain had nothing to do with me sitting up. I didn’t care if I had a heart attack for myself, but what if he now considered me too a high a risk to treat? Oh God, please no. The thought of going home unhealed was unfathomable. Back to an isolated hospital bed in my bedroom. Dr. S was my last hope. Please don’t be a heart attack.
EMT asked, “How is your pain now? Any better?”
“Yes, definitely a little better.”
“On a scale of 1 to 10?”
“I’d say a 2.9.”
While in the ER, I had to text with my left hand since my right arm had the IV in the bendy part of my elbow. God I missed my daughter Brielle just then, but with my family so far away in NJ, I didn’t want to alarm them if it turned out to be nothing. The only person I notified was my new friend from Dr. S’ office, a patient from Montana. She wanted to come visit me immediately. She was pretty drugged up from her pain killers and it was getting late by now, so I told her no, she could visit me tomorrow if I was admitted.
I was admitted and taken up to my room. I was left out in the hallway on my stretcher while the transporter went to the nurse’s station.
The sound was blaring from my soon to be roommate’s television. My PTSD symptoms kicked in and I started to panic. If I were to have to put up with that noise I would either harm my roommate or myself. No, I couldn’t risk being reported in the police blotter. I would not allow myself to be admitted.
“Hello! Hello!” I tried to get someone’s attention.
The transporter came back and told me I would be given the last private room available. Oh Lord, thank you! Crisis averted. The relief I felt was palpable.
Monday, August 26
Minutes passed into hours passed into days. Monday morning and I’m still in the hospital. Third blood lab testing for a heart attack came back negative and the sonogram of my heart also came back negative. Thank you God! Dr. S would most likely still treat me. Woohoo! The hospital doctors didn’t want to release me from the hospital though because my D-dimer was still extremely high, meaning my risk of heart attack/stroke was too high. I told them I had an appointment with Dr. S at 10:30 AM and had to be released no later than 10:00 AM. It was a big week of new treatments for me. Finally starting to kill the Babesia. If I weren’t released I would check myself out. I was finally released at 1:00 and went straight to Dr. S’ office.
I met with Dr. S and Gary, my assigned nurse, for about an hour. Dr. S reviewed all my blood work again and asked me questions about my apparent “heart attack.”
“I think you may have something called Diffuse Esophageal Spasms.”
Later that night, I looked it up and read that Diffuse Esophageal Spasms mimic heart attacks and can be treated with nitroglycerin. Dang, this guy is unbelievable! All the times I’ve gone to the ER with symptoms of a heart attack and no one ever mentioned it as a possible diagnosis.
I go to bed Monday night exhausted but I say my prayers. God, thank you for letting it not be a heart attack. Thank you for allowing Dr. S to still treat me. Thank you for my friends from Montana and Mobile coming to visit me in the hospital. Thank you for all the people that have supported me throughout this illness and also those that have contributed donations to my website or forwarded the link to others or have prayed for me. Please help all people with Chronic Lyme disease have the strength and courage to continue fighting this awful disease and to regain their health. Please help me tolerate the parasite cleanse tomorrow. Lord, you are in the driver’s seat and I am just glad to be riding shot gun. Amen.