Post #8 – My Greatest Journey (Chapter 7)

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. 

Welcome to Chapter 7 of the POTS saga! When I first started this blog I wasn’t quite sure how long this story would take to tell. Safe to say I was not expecting this many chapters, but it has been one crazy ride and I don’t want to leave out any of good parts! Enjoy…

 

Part 1 –

Driving home from Seattle after my appointment with the ENT, I began to settle into the mindset that I would be heading to the Mayo Clinic. Due to an appointment cancellation, we were able to get my appointment moved up to the end of May. Fortunately, my work was nothing short of amazing at allowing me to take care of myself and figure out what was going on. Through the grace of God and the support of Rachel, I was still able to be a reliable and quality employee during this entire journey. During the entire stretch I never took a single unscheduled sick day. My boss always made an effort to check in on me and call me into his office for 1 on 1’s just to chat about my mental health. He told me once that even at 40% productivity, I was still a worthy and valuable asset to their team. Not everyone gets this at their job, so I hope to remember this if I ever get into a position of power someday.

I am originally from a small town outside of Spokane, so I was able to get one last checkup done with the local general surgeon before I headed to Mayo. They did a scope on my stomach like the ER had previously recommended, which concluded that there was in fact NO ulcer (Surprise!). I was given some more powerful acid reflux medication due to a little bit of inflammation and told there was no structural abnormalities that could be causing my severe stomach pain.  At this point I headed home for the weekend to work on the logistics of my trip to Arizona.

The logistics behind how I was able to make the Mayo Clinic actually happen were nothing short of a miracle. My work gave me a week off (officially use the last of my PTO plus two days unpaid). My mom got a week off work. A good buddy of mine and his wife gave me a $700 voucher for airplane tickets. My parents found the money to pay for the hotel down there (discounted Mayo Clinic pricing thank goodness). I had a few hundred left in my savings I pulled out for food. Family friends chipped in gift cards for other expenses. It was great. It was a surreal feeling, because on one end of the spectrum it felt absolutely incredible to receive that much support. But on the other side, it made me feel so worthless and defeated to need to ask for the help in the first place. Moral of the story always help a friend in need and always ask friends for help if you need it.

Getting ready to leave for the Mayo Clinic was like being in a dream. I couldn’t believe this was actually going to happen. I spent the weekend gathering up every single medical record, MRI, CT Scan, ultrasound, and write up I had. My first appointment was on Tuesday morning, so my mom and I were flying down to Arizona on Monday to get all situated (it was the week before Memorial day, two years ago). My life group had a get together to have a prayer session for me that was really powerful, but at this point I had been sick for over four months so I was starting to doubt God wanted me to be healed. That Monday morning Rachel dropped us off at the airport and we said are goodbyes. It was scary leaving the person I cared about the most in my life to embark on what I hoped would be the answers to my health problems. Rachel had made the decision to be with me no matter what my health status was, but the wedding and getting married were still up in the air until after we heard what the Mayo Clinic had to say. *Rachel claims it was a no brainer to stay with me, but even I would have left me haha. Maybe chicks really do dig math nerds?*.

The flight down to Arizona was tough. My head pressure was made worse in the plane. I still had excruciating stomach pain and it was hard to breathe, so the tight quarters of economy seating were a little overwhelming for me and I thought I was going to suffocate. I didn’t. A strange symptom of POTS is heat intolerance. The warmer and hotter it is, the worse I feel. My heart rate beats faster and my fatigue increases at an unnatural rate. So coming from the Pacific Northwest to Arizona DID NOT help me one bit. At this point I still hadn’t been formally diagnosed with POTS, so I was not paying attention to the details of why I was feeling worse. I just knew that when we landed in Arizona my pain was maxed and I needed to get to the hotel pronto so I could die in my pillow.

The way consultative medicine at the Mayo Clinic works is that you go there looking for answers. And they do EVERYTHING they can to find you answers. My first appointment was Tuesday, but then from there they would decide what specialist I would see, what tests I would take, how many days approximately I would be there, and what my schedule would look like. Mayo had an entire section of their website dedicated to the logistics of how consultative medicine worked. We knew going into this trip that it was possible it could take longer than a week, but we really had no idea. The plan was my mom was with me for the first week, and if I had to stay longer, my dad would fly down. Rachel kept trying to persuade me to let her come down with me, but we decided financially and logistically it just didn’t make sense.

So Monday night, my mom and I got all set up at our new home base for the week (our hotel). I talked to Rachel on the phone and we went over everything I was supposed to tell the doctor in the morning (Rachel is my coach for helping me put my thoughts into words, especially with medical symptoms). My mom and I went grocery shopping, had dinner, and watched a movie back at the room. It meant so much to me that my mom was there. As you grow up and start transitioning from dependent college kid to an adult in the real world, there just aren’t as many opportunities to hang out with your parents. I know some people don’t have a good relationship with their parents, but I do. Although it was the worst possible circumstances to be watching a movie in a hotel room in Arizona with my momma, for moments at a time I was happy. It was like I was kid again and everything was going to be ok. I fell asleep mentally and physically prepared to get some answers and get my quality of life back.

To be Continued…

 

Part 2 – Social Media

Social media. It is here for the long run. I will be upfront with you all and tell you that I love my social media. Rachel would probably tell you that I have a problem with using it too much. I do need to work on spending some time away from my phone, but I also think that if used appropriately, social media can be a useful tool. I will give you a brief overview of my favorite platforms to connect on (ranked in order starting with the best).

 

Twitter – I started my Twitter profile during my freshman year in college. A lot of famous athletes were using it so I joined as a way to follow them. Twitter is my all-time favorite social media platform. It is a place where you can share your random funny thoughts or a “hot take” on an issue. Let me be clear, there is still a lot of garbage on here and some people can be annoying. But once you learn how to navigate through all the dumb stuff, Twitter can provide news, sports highlights, humor, connections, and much more. One awesome success story with Twitter is that I was able to get my dad a signed poster and basketball warm up from his favorite NBA player (using some well worded tweets and humor).

Instagram – This one is pretty cool too. I like pictures. They are easy and fun to look at and I usually don’t have to read a ton of words. They always seem to release nice updates that make the user experience more enjoyable. My buddy also sends me private messages almost every day through this app with stupid (he thinks they are funny) memes. Thanks Cole.

LinkedIn – The social media platform for the business/career world. I love LinkedIn because it allows a place to connect with people in a career setting. You must be professional in your posts and comments (or at least you should or else you probably won’t be landing that next big job), and everyone is really respectful/mature for the most part. You can also apply for jobs and add skills, a resumé certifications, education, etc. I enjoy checking in on what my friends in other cities are up to with their work.

Facebook – I would like to avoid Facebook more if I could, but it is actually really useful for a lot of stuff. I use it a lot for contacting people that I don’t have their phone numbers. It is also super handy for creating events, meetings, and parties and sending out invites quickly. I don’t post a lot on this platform, but when I do it reaches a lot of people (which is handy when you have something important to share). Facebook is also great for creating “pages” as well. I run the social media accounts for a game company I own with my wife and a couple of cousins (another blog post for another day), and I created a business page on here that allows us to reach lots of people, advertise, and sell our product with a SHOP NOW button.

Untappd – This app/social media platform is a fun one that I use with a few friends and family members. Basically it allows you to “check in” different beers you try and give them a rating. You can select your location where you had the drink and can also post a picture with it. Just like other social media sites, you can tag people and comment on other people’s posts. Instead of a “like” button, Untappd has a “toast” button to toast other users drinks! I find it neat to see what restaurants my buddies are at having a drink without me…

Snapchat – I use Snapchat less and less every day. It can be fun to send a few people a quick shot of something cool happening around you, but overall it is losing its appeal with me. I probably use this app the most for getting pictures of my cats from Rachel haha. Definitely worth having for the moments when you need it, but it is the lowest on my list of social media platforms.

 

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. Rach and I at a wedding last weekend.

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