Disclaimer – The following post is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease or sickness. Please use caution if any parts apply to your specific situation and contact a health care professional for further advice.
Chapter 5 of the POTS saga! Thank you for joining the blog and please don’t hesitate to reach out, subscribe through email, and share. As I have been writing this blog, it has been surreal for me to look back and see how far I have come. Thank God for this second chance at life. Miracles can and do happen every single day.
Part 1 –
The blood patch was not successful in curing my headaches. I was told that if it was going to work, I would notice the improvements instantly. This was not the case. Looking back at this CSF Leak circus, it is a reminder for me just how illogical I was thinking. I was sending emails to professors at medical institutes across the country trying to get advice on what I should do. Even though the blood patch did not help, there was still a part of me that was convinced this was still what was going on because I refused to believe POTS alone was causing my issues. *Technically this is true because SOMETHING is causing my POTS, which in turn is causing my issues. But as we find out later, we discover for a fact that a CSF Leak is not causing my issues).
We were beginning to reach the end of the resources available to us in Eastern Washington. The Cardiologist, Neurologist, and ENT had all run out of ideas on what we could try next. I still had this headache every single day. I still could not be on my feet for any length of time. I was still depressed. What I wanted was to be admitted to the hospital to have them do test after test on me until they found out what was wrong (Dr. House style). In the real world this doesn’t happen. When you have a chronic condition, as I was beginning to understand was my case, you have to just deal with it and manage symptoms. Western medicine is not particularly great at treating mystery cases.
When you are sick for such a long period of time (like I had been), the “Disneyland” of hospitals and healthcare is the Mayo Clinic. I was reading every blog and health story I could find online, and they were all leading to the Mayo Clinic. This seemed like a fantasy to me as there were many obstacles preventing me from going to one of their facilities. I had used up all my PTO at work, I couldn’t afford the travel expenses (or food and a place to stay), and I couldn’t exactly go alone. I also did not even know how you got accepted to go to the Mayo Clinic. It was just a mythical health land where people with the rarest of medical problems with secret connections could attend.
With nowhere left to run, my family (Rach and my parents) decided enough was enough and that we needed to see what it actually took to get to the Mayo Clinic. I am so thankful to have had this support system during this time. Not everyone with a chronic illness has this, and it can be a very lonely hopeless journey. The first step we ended up taking was calling Mayo and seeing if we could get in to see someone. The Mayo Clinic has three main locations (Arizona, Minnesota, and Florida) and we decided that the Arizona location was the most realistic. We originally were trying to get in to see the Neurology department, but were so full that they were not accepting any new patients. Any of you that know my mom will understand that she doesn’t take no for an answer. I was still seeing my regular doctor about once a week to go over next steps, so I had created a diagram of sorts with all my symptoms. My mom got a copy of this diagram from me, and called Mayo back demanding that she get to speak to nurse or executive. My mom has no fear when it comes to people (opposite of myself). She called me a few hours later telling me I had an appointment for the beginning of June with Consultative Medicine department. This was their department where patients went when you didn’t know what exactly was wrong and needed help. After looking over my diagram (and getting the business from my mom), they agreed I needed Mayo services. In was the end of April, so I had a little over a month to get through before “all my issues would be solved”.
To no surprise of anyone around me during this time, I then started having ANOTHER strange symptom. I woke up for work one morning (which was still an accomplishment in itself) and had excruciating pain in the upper middle portion of my stomach (almost in my lower chest). It felt like I was being stabbed by a knife and it hurt to breath. Not wanting to tell anyone of yet another thing “Jarod is complaining about” and complicate the situation, I tried to ignore it had hope it went away.
A few days later I finally had the echocardiogram and stress test on my heart that the cardiologist had ordered a couple weeks before. I was nervous and excited for these tests because I was fearful that my heart rate issues were a problem with my heart, but I also was craving an answer (or at least a formal diagnosis) for what I was suffering from so that I wouldn’t have to go to the Mayo Clinic. This was a crazy couple of hours because the stress test involved running on a treadmill for as long as I could, as the speed got faster and faster. Still in increasingly worsening stomach pain, I went through with these heart tests at the clinic. During the stress test, my heart rate got going so fast that they had to call in the doctor. They sat me down in the chair and started asking all sorts of questions about my health. My favorite was – “Do you drink a lot of energy drinks?”. OH MY GOSH! THAT’S IT! All of my issues have been from drinking a lot of energy drinks! *sarcasm hopefully noted*. Ultimately, they told me that they had no idea why my heart was beating so fast or why it returned to normal when sitting in the chair, but electrically my heart was working fine so just take my beta blocker and live my life. How swell. I had another meltdown on the car ride home after this. I remember thinking two main things as I cried myself back up to my apartment that evening.
1 – I probably would be like this for the rest of my life and therefore I hated myself. For the first time in my life, I hated being me. I was NOT suicidal, as my understanding of what Jesus did for me on the cross was growing and I knew I couldn’t take a life He gave me. But I DID ask myself if I was suicidal every day. There was still a small part of me that was the same, logical, happy Jarod that knew that if even one of these thoughts came into my mind I needed to tell someone. It thankfully never got to that point.
2 – I didn’t want Rachel to be with a guy who was going to be like this for the rest of his life. We had not had a realistic conversation about the possibility of me being like this forever. So I was scared. *Spoiler Alert – This has the best of endings. Rachel chose to keep me even with my POTS being at it’s very worst*
It was now the first week of May (2016) and I had one month to figure out how to get better or else I was heading down to Arizona for our last resort, Mayo Clinic.
To be Continued…
Part 2 – Quotes
I decided I wanted to spend this week sharing some quotes that I really enjoy or have meant a lot to me.
“If you make every game a life and death proposition, you’re going to have problems. For one thing, you’ll be dead a lot.” – Dean Smith, Hall of Fame North Carolina basketball coach
This was my senior quote in my high school year book. I love the humor in this, but also the truth. When I was little I was way too competitive. I would cry after losing games and get worked up about every little situation. I still do sometimes, but I like to reflect on this saying because it reminds me that there is more to life than whatever task I am facing in that moment. I am a Duke University fan, so this quote must be special to me if I am willing to take advice from a Tar Heal haha. It is ok to take things seriously, but don’t make the importance of the outcome bigger than it needs to be.
“Don’t lose your happiness on the pursuit for more.” – Mike Stud, American hip-hop artist.
This quote comes from a song that is actually too inappropriate to share with this blog *yes my playlist has some material that you wouldn’t want grandma to hear*. This line has always made me think about my life every time I listen to it. How often have you ever lost track of how happy you were because there was something else you wanted? I do this ALL the time. There is always something else I want. Something else I want to do. Something else I want to achieve. All these things that I believe will make me more “happy”. I frequently forget that at one point in my life, exactly where I am is what I was striving for. Don’t lose your happiness on the pursuit for more.
“But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” – Matthew 19:30 NIV.
This is one of my favorite Bible verses. I have a hard time understanding why some people get better cards in this life than others. When I see or hear about a baby born with severe disabilities, I wonder and ask God what did this child do to deserve having his chance at a successful life taken from him? But then I remember this verse and it at least helps to put things into perspective for me. We don’t “deserve” any of this life. The good, the bad, the highs, the lows. But those who put themselves first in this life will indeed be last when judgement comes. And it will come. The babies who didn’t even get a shot at life will be first in heaven and experience a life infinitely greater than the one we are living right now.
“Many axioms do not hold in every domain. Sometimes to solve a problem, one must simply change the space in which they are working.” – Dr. Ronald Gentle, Mathematics professor at Eastern Washington University.
Nerd moment. For those of you who don’t know, I have a degree in math from Eastern Washington University. One of my favorite moments during my schooling was a line I heard from one of my geometry professors, Dr. Gentle. He was referring to problems related to doing mathematical proofs in spaces other than Euclidean (for you non-mathletes, this is just the domain we do elementary geometry in). Believe it or not, there are other domains you can do geometry in (hyperbolic, elliptic, most things you see happen in science fiction movies take place in non-Euclidean domains).
A space if considered Euclidean if it meets certain requirements or axioms. In the geometry class I was in, we were not working in these Euclidean spaces. So different rules applied. Lines could be curved and still make a square for example. So some problems that would be impossible to solve with the geometry rules we were taught growing up, could actually be solved in a different domain (space). For example, how can you create a triangle with three right angles? It can be done in spherical geometry (my dad showed me this one).
Moral of this quote for me is that this can apply to life as well. If you feel stuck at a job or in life or anywhere you find yourself, maybe the solution lies with changing your environment. Take a risk and jump into a different domain.
“You are never too old to have a role model.” – Jarod Gunning, Me.
This one is something I have always just told myself. In every stage of my life I have always had someone I wanted to be more like. Growing up it was my dad. In high school it was my high school basketball coach. My philosophy professor in college opened my eyes to the art of thinking. At my first job my supervisor took me under his wing and mentored me on how to be tough yet caring. My life groups at church have always been led by men and women that make me want to strive to be more like Jesus. The pastor at my current church is one of my role models right now. We never get too old to look up to someone and want to be more like them. Even if they are younger than you. It is true what they say, someone’s eyes are always watching.
Disclaimer- I was not paid or given any product/services for free. This review was made purely from my own will.
Thanks for reading! Be back next week as the POTS saga continues…..
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Jarod Gunning – Dude with POTS.
P.S. One of my quotes hanging at work. Just to let my boss know I’m not afraid to leave if I have to 😉