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.
Thanks for tuning in for chapter 6 of the POTS saga. Remember to subscribe and share if you know someone who might benefit from hearing about my journey. Please never hesitate to reach out!
Part 1 –
A theme of my POTS Journey was my unwillingness to trust God and his timing. From the moment I got sick I was trying to trying to force my health back to where I wanted it. There is a fine line between being an advocate of your own health, and making everything worse by going down rabbit trails. Although our persistence paid off in the end, I ended up seeing many doctors and going to many appointments that ultimately were not helpful. “Wild Goose Hunts” would have been a good name for a reality show of my life during this time.
May 2016 was a crazy one for me. For starters, I was still no closer to finding a solution to my health problems. I had all my previous head pressure and heart rate issues, and now I had this killer stomach pain. Family members had been following my journey and I was being recommended to doctors that they thought might be able to help. I was able to get appointments scheduled with an immunologist, a chiropractor, and the most hopeful one for us was with an ENT surgeon (Ears, Nose, Throat) at the University of Washington who specialized in the weird, wild, and crazy. This appointment took multiple strings being pulled to happen. *Side note, one of the best pieces of advice I have ever received was from my uncle telling me “Jarod, the key to success is to never burn any bridges. You never know when you will need something from someone”. Thankfully I try not to burn a lot of bridges 😊*
At this point I was living my life doctor visit to doctor visit. Every couple of days there was usually another appointment with some different specialist that I was praying would cure me. I was growing weaker, more depressed, more hopeless. My stomach pain was getting worse each day and I was having troubles eating and breathing. During the first weekend in May (2016), I woke up with it hurting almost to the point of being unbearable. After a brief trial of OTC antacids, I realized I couldn’t live like this anymore. So I went in to the ER (once again my mom and dad drove up to take me. Rachel was working). *I want to quickly touch base on how hard mentally this decision to go to the ER was for me. Being “the sick guy” is embarrassing. You feel like you are letting everyone around you down. I was 24 years old and could barely take care of myself. I was supposed to be getting married in five months and I didn’t even know if I was going to still be alive then. After spending all of my money on appointment after appointment, having to call my parents and tell them I needed to go to the ER for ANOTHER symptom was one of my all-time lows. I was forced to believe “hypochondriac Jarod” was at it again*
I was in the ER for about five hours. They did a bunch of tests, including an ultrasound and some blood work. My parents sat in the room with me the whole time and we watched the NBA playoffs. To the surprise of no one, they couldn’t find a single thing wrong with me. I was diagnosed with “GERD and a possible ulcer”, and was told to follow up with a GI (gastrointestinal) doctor. Basically they told me they couldn’t explain my stomach pain so I might want to check in to see if there was an ulcer in there. Oh and I guess I look like the kind of guy who might have acid reflux so let’s throw that in the rapidly growing medical portfolio. I got back home that night feeling defeated, like an idiot, and so worthless. My mom told me that it was better to have gone in so I wasn’t worried about it anymore. That helped a little.
Over the next couple of weeks, I saw a few different specialists that I referred to earlier. Rather than make a big deal out of what ended up being absolutely nothing, I will summarize each appointment below:
Immunologist – Found out at one point in my life, I had mono. But it was no longer active. And my head pressure was probably related to my acid reflux. Nice. This appointment was a two-hour drive both ways.
Chiropractor – This was actually a pretty interesting little rabbit trail. I am going to be quite frank with everyone, I DO NOT believe in chiropractors. Sorry for the unpopular opinion. But regardless, out of desperation I went to one to see if they could help relieve any of my pain or symptoms. I will admit that this chiropractor really made me feel like they cared and did more to try to find out the cause of my issues that a ton of the medical doctors I saw. I ended up getting an upright MRI done on my head to see if I had a CSF pressure issue (in the same realm as the CSF leak issue I had pursued the prior month). With respect to the situation and the help I was offered, I will just say that ultimately some “abnormalities” were found in this scan that caused me to seek additional medical opinions and they turned out to be non-issues.
ENT at UW – This appointment was my “last hope” at finding an answer or else I was going to be making the trip down to Arizona to see the Mayo Clinic. I spent a whole week preparing a binder full of my medical history and information to provide the ENT. I got a couple of days off work and Rachel drove me four hours to Seattle. I remember waking up the next day getting ready to go to my appointment and Rachel and I just sat there and prayed. We had been on this journey for so long and we were so ready for it to be over. We had never been to see doctor with this much “prestige” before, so we were almost giddy with excitement over the thoughts of being given a real diagnosis and a treatment plan. I KID YOU NOT…this appointment lasted about 10 min. He seriously asked me “What are you hoping I can do for you?” and “who referred you to me?”. He didn’t even read my file until the moment he walked into the room, was annoyed we were even there, and then told me my symptoms were most likely all due to acid reflux (because of that GERD diagnosis I had in my file now from the ER trip). I personally do not know a single person in the history of the world that has ever had an increased heart rate of 60+ beats per minute when standing due to acid reflux. But that’s just me. Dr. Google. On the way home I am pretty sure the words “F*** the Huskies” were said ten to twenty times. We had officially used up every resource we had in the state of Washington.
To be Continued…
Part 2 – Sprinklers
Rachel and I finally finished up a rather challenging project. We installed our own sprinkler system and laid sod! WE OFFCIALLY HAVE A LAWN. For those of you who know me even a little bit, you are well aware that I know nothing when it comes to anything in the field of a “handyman”. I like to blame my dad for not teaching me how to do things like fix cars growing up. But then I remember I hate fixing things and my dad and I accomplished way more in the classroom doing math 😊 All that aside, I learned a few things the last couple of weeks that I will share.
1 – If you are going to install your own sprinkler system, RENT A TRENCHER. My yard is about 3800 sqft, and it took six days to dig all the trenches. I had some buddies come over to help a couple days and it still took that long (do I need new friends? Hmmm…). The cost is worth the time, effort, and food/beer you will have to spend on digging and help.
2- You learn a lot from failure. This is a tad cliché, but it is true so I am mentioning it. I have had to redo two sprinkler heads already because they were not installed properly. The easiest way to tell if you messed up a sprinkler head is by noticing the flood happening in a three-foot radius around it 😊
3- Have somebody doing it with you even if it is just for moral support. It is amazing how many times I messed something up because I forgot to do a simple little step. My brother in law helped me (shout out Luke) a lot of the nights and being able to throw ideas off him helped me see if it was a terrible suggestion haha.
4- Your body will hurt literally everywhere. No body part is safe from a sprinkler install.
5- It is interesting to me how growing up I hated doing any sort of yard work. Hated mowing the lawn. Hated pulling weeds. Hated picking rocks. Now these last two weeks, I have been obsessed with my yard. I am so excited to be doing anything out there. I have made seven trips to Home Depot in the last 14 days. And I loved every trip haha. Who am I? Can you legally become a dad just by buying a certain amount from Home Depot? Am I wearing Sketchers now?
6 – Seeing the sprinklers turn on for the first time was one of the most satisfying moments of my life. I told Rachel after it was all done that I was in awe of it all. I actually didn’t think I could do it and I thought I would have to call in a professional to come fix the mess I made *Knocking on wood right now so I don’t wake up with my basement flooded or something*.
7 – If you are in the market for house, buy one that already has a sprinkler system. I never want to do this again.
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…..
Please contact me for any specific topics, questions you want answered, or reviews you want!
Jarod Gunning – Dude with POTS.
P.S. Rachel laying some sod on the new lawn!