(Tarsal Tunnel release went great, we have the problem all fixed, and it is healing nicely!)
There a couple things in healthcare that patients say to you that can really weigh heavy on your heart, as they should. One of these statements is "please don't let me die." I've been told that many, many times and I do my best every moment I work to not let that happen to the best of my control (I know I don't have the ultimate control, you know what I mean?). Anyway, some people say that jokingly, some are dead serious (no pun intended), and they have good reason to be. It isn't something you lightly say to someone; so I was shocked when those words came out of my mouth to my ICU nurse Jill a couple weeks ago. I was dead serious, and I had good reason to be. I had a pulmonary embolus.
So I had a "near death experience." I kinda hate saying that, but I guess that's what it was. I more like to say "I had a serious insult to my body that forced me to fight like hell to stay alive"... but that takes a lot more words. As you all know I had surgery on 6/14 on my tarsal tunnel, and less than 48 hrs later I developed a lot of trouble breathing, and pain in my right lung.
Honestly, I went back and forth on even posting a blog about it; since it was an incredibly emotional and life changing event. But here's the deal: God kept me here for a reason and I hope maybe my story can maybe help others find some faith in their everyday life... so a blog it is. I was going to write it with a joking tone... but it wasn't funny. So I'll just tell some of it like it was, but a lot of it is a little too personal and emotion to share right now; but mostly please take this away from this: your life can change in the blink of an eye! Maybe for good or worse, or maybe just change, but don't take the little things that God has given us for granted. Bike racing is a fun "battle," but how you conduct yourself and treat others is the battle that matters most, because someday you may need that karma for a real battle; one for you life. I did.
I woke on the 16th barely able to catch my breath, breathing about 40 times a minute. Not good. I got a hold of Dr Porter (who did another awesome foot surgery btw), he had me call my internist Dr Coates (who is awesome in general btw), I planned to go get a chest x-ray, maybe a breathing treatment (I have asthma) and be back home in a couple hours. Well, I'm still not home (I am staying with my parents and their cats) and I ended up staying in the hospital 10 days. Five days in the ICU at kch, and 3 in the msicu at Lutheran where I used to work, and 5 on teley. Honestly, I knew I was having a pulmonary embolism as a complication from lower extremity surgery, I just didn't want to admit it to myself. Maybe because I knew that was serious, a lot of people don't live through it... I didn't plan for a PE! Long story short, I felt bad to worse, and my 2nd night at kch had me feeling like as I was drowning as my body was barely getting any oxygen to it. For you abg number junkies (like me) my paO2 was about 30. I remember thinking "I have a PE, I really could die from this." I didn't see that as a good option, I won't say I was scared, but I knew things were really bad and I had to step it up and try to keep it going to see the next day. Kinda makes a last interval set seems like a cake walk. We did more tests, things didn't look good and I was shipped to Lutheran by ambulance. Man those guys go fast! I hated to leave Dr Coates and all the staff at kch- they did so awesome, but I was happy to go to a unit where I would have some familiar faces to help me further.
The remaining days were a bit of a blur. I was medicated and constantly monitored, woke up for tests, blood draws, IV's, breathing treatments, and shots, and more shots. I was going to keep track of how many times I was poked by a needle, but I lost count at 31 on day 5. We discovered a urethral stricture that I've probably had for at least 6 months after they put a Foley catheter in me. I lost 10 pounds of water weight in a a matter of 5 days, and eventually has surgery to fix the problem. I had some great nurses and doctors take care of me and I would hope someday that society would realize that these people are far better role models than the athletes in our world. Just sayin. I also developed severe weakness, like not even being able to hold my head up. I eventually had a neurologist consult, Dr Steven's, who happens to be a L500 champion from back in the 70's, come and test me for myasthenia gravis (an autoimmune neuromuscular disorder). It looks very likely that all the physiological stress of things may have unmasked this. I find out more from some blood work Friday. If I do have it, don't count me out... I plan on fighting through it to be a competitor again soon.
(My parent's new kitties: still slacking on their physical therapy duties: but oh so good for the soul)
So for now, I'm happy to be out of the hospital. Everyday I have little goals, like standing the entire time to brush my teeth, or sitting outside for 10 minutes. Most simple things require a couple hour recharge nap, but that just has to be they way it is. I know someday soon, I'll be riding down a country road I've rode a thousand times, feeling the wind in my face, and the sun on my neck feeling the LIFE of the outside world that God has created for us to love and enjoy... things that are absent in the hospital bed. Yes, I had a "near death experience, " but it was so much more. I'm not angry, I don't feel sorry for myself, and I don't think it was a bad thing that happened to me. I felt the grace of the hand of God; and that makes me feel pretty special, not everyone experiences that.
(... and they make really good nap buddies)
I can't even being to thank everyone around me who has showed me support and love with thoughts and prayers. I mean WOW, how to even begin, I have so many people I know who are such caring and great people... I love you all. Even a little word means SO much. Thank you.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. ~Timothy 4:7
I know you seen me quote this verse before; it's my personal favorite, by no mistake I believe.