Well, as some of you may have noticed it has been a little while since I last posted here. Fear not, though, for there is a good reason and it has nothing to do with being lazy! Allow me to explain…
About a few months ago (late 2014), I began having bad night sweats. How bad? Bad as in having to get up in the middle of the night and completely change what I was wearing and change the pillow bad. I blamed it on the heat in the room (it was, after all, the chilly part of the year), on what I was wearing, on what I had eaten that day… basically on anything that would allow me to avoid having to recognize it as a symptom of something crying out for attention. During the time period from around the end of December until a few weeks ago I also suffered from numerous minor illnesses. A cold here, a sinus infection there… nothing either some NyQuil/ DayQuil or a quick trip to the doctor couldn’t fix! So it went on, week after week and the months rolled by.
Then, around the beginning of March, I suddenly began suffering from extreme fatigue and chills. I am, by profession, a teacher, and so (much to the chagrin of those who want to view us as overpaid babysitters), my day starts and ends on my feet. I am one of those teachers who likes to re-enact John Wilkes Booth leaping to the stage while yelling “Sic Semper Tyrannis!” and my imitations of multiple Presidents have garnered applause from my students. So I figured that this was just a matter of being a little extra tired. Except that it wasn’t… I found myself coming home, laying on the couch and pulling a blanket over my body. I could barely get up for dinner. Friends and family began commenting on my fatigue while I, stiff upper lip and all, would jokingly refer to the upcoming Spring Break that was about a month away as the time I would “catch up” on my rest and buck this trend.
The weekend before St. Patrick’s Day, however, changed everything. I had consented to go get blood- work done to see if there was anything wrong, figured it was probably something minor such as an iron deficiency or the likes. That Saturday I felt chest pains for the first time. It was as if someone had my heart in their hand and was squeezing it every few moments. Again, quite stupidly, I did little more than mention it figuring this too was a result of the fatigue. I went to school that Monday, but after the typical falling to the couch with the chills and waking up a few hours later, I felt as if my chest was going to explode. It was pain I had not experienced before and, to be quite frank, it was actually scary. For the first time in four years of work I called out and went to the Emergency Room on Tuesday.
I’ll spare you, my dear reader, most of the details here regarding the next eight (8) days that I spent at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital. Suffice it to say that it was eye opening: I had numerous procedures done and, thanks to the excellent care I received and the attentive eyes of the doctors and nurses who took care of me, I was diagnosed with a bacterial infection on my aortic valve. How did it get there? Nobody really knows… it’s apparently a form of strep that made its way there, latched on to this patch I have from my previous open-heart surgery in 2010 (and which I had no idea was there in the first place) and then spread to my lungs and blood. Had I remained obstinate about treatment, I would probably be dead by now. Thankfully when it comes to the heart I am much more willing to err on the side of caution in large part because of my past history of heart related issues.
So while I do have a few articles I’m working on (and good ones at that I promise!) I have written this in an effort to help you understand why I did not write for a while and also to make a plea that will sound at once as a cliche and a “born again” moment (as close to born again as I’ll ever be): if you have chest pains, please go see a doctor. Don’t be an arse like me and wait until things get really out of hand. Also, if you have any recurring symptoms please see a doctor. Had I done that earlier, there is a good chance we would have probably solved this with minimal fuss. As it is, I now have a PICC line in (you can look it up if you wish) and need to administer medicine every four hours for one of them and every twelve hours for the other. It’s not fun.
With that, I plan on an article within the next two or three days… something to give you a weekend treat :) Thank you for your continued readership as always, and stay healthy.