Post #11 – My Greatest Journey (Chapter 10)

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 back for chapter 10! We are getting closer to end! I honestly can’t believe how long this journey was. Writing this brings back so many memories of frustrating nights and long, long stretches of hopelessness. Please continue to reach out with any feedback! Share and follow!

Part 1 –

In August 2016, Rachel and I made our trek over to Seattle for an appointment with the general surgery and vascular surgery departments at the University of Washington. We were not super thrilled about driving all the way to Seattle again because of the poor results we had gotten from other doctors during prior trips over there. But as fate would have it, we ended up back at the UW medical center to try and convince them I was a good candidate for MALS (Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome) surgery. This is also known as a MALS Release because they “release” tendons and cartilage that are pushing down on the artery.

After going through yet ANOTHER round of extensive workups with the surgery consulting department, I was cleared for surgery under one condition. The lead surgeon requested one last opinion from the GI motility doctor at UW. He said that if the GI department agreed that surgery was recommended, then they would follow through with the plan. This was not a simple surgery (and actually fairly dangerous because they are operating around very important arteries), so there were hoops after hoops that had to be jumped through.

This was super frustrating for me. This meant we had to come back to Seattle again and the GI appointment was a couple weeks out. In my mind I was trying to get this surgery done before my wedding that was scheduled for October 7th. But with each passing appointment, I started to realize that this probably was not going to be the case.

While we waited for my GI motility appointment, I also started going through the steps to get in to see this highly recommended POTS specialist that also practiced at the University of Washington. We needed a backup plan in case the surgery did not cure my symptoms. We quickly found out (after a couple of referrals and a few phone calls back and forth) that the POTS specialist was essentially the only expert on this condition in the Pacific Northwest and there was over six months on the waiting list to see him. To be quite frank, this sucked. Due to a cancellation, I was able to get an appointment scheduled for early January.

*At this point I was still suffering from all of my symptoms. I had little to no quality of life and I was struggling to function. God continued to guide me and give me just enough energy/motivation to continue working, but I was running on fumes. Rachel and I were desperate for answers and more importantly some relief. We were willing to try anything. We had discussions I never thought we would have in our relationship. Ones that involved what possible pain/symptom reliefs I should try. Ultimately (thank the Lord for giving me the strength to say no) we decided against trying any sort of prescription pain medications or other drugs*

My appointment with the GI motility specialist quickly arrived and Rach and I set off again to Seattle. We are fortunate to have many family and friends who live in Seattle, so we never had to pay for a hotel, and quite frequently had meals provided for us. I always reflect on how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful support system around me. This doctor was very passionate and caring about my health issues. She ultimately ended up agreeing that surgery was called for in my situation, and even came up with a game plan for future options we could try if the surgery didn’t work. One statement that really made me appreciate the trip over was that she said 9 out of 10 times she doesn’t recommend having this surgery. The rewards typically do not justify the risks. But as she told us in the appointment, “It sounds like you guys have been to hell and back already, so let’s give this thing a try”. She also said I was a “Textbook” case of POTS and MALS, so there least a few guidelines we could follow in my treatment plans.

Within the next couple of days, I had my referral sent to the surgery center and I was placed on the schedule. October 20th, 2016 was my surgery date. I was OFFICIALLY getting married before my surgery. This was kind of disappointing to me because I was hoping to be 100% better for my wedding, but I was happy to be on the schedule nonetheless.

In the next month and a half, I tried my best to ignore the situation I was in. I lived as close to normal life as I could. Planning for the wedding took a lot of my time, as did my continued obsession with my health. I watched some videos of my surgery being done (big mistake) and listened to some podcasts about surgery and anesthesia (also big mistake). During the summer I was also put on a vasopressor by my cardiologist. A vasopressor is a medication that increases blood pressure. This was helping me with my energy levels and allowing me to stay upright for longer periods of time, so my summer was not spent completely bed ridden.

As per usual, my work was remarkably supportive of my life endeavors heading into October. I was essentially able to get the entire month off work to get married, go on my honeymoon, have surgery, and the recover. Most of it was unpaid time off, but I did not even have to file an FMLA case (which made things much less stressful for me). You are probably wondering how I was able to take so much time off unpaid. The answer is I truly am not sure. Rachel was able to take care of a lot of the wedding expenses from working overtime (God bless her), and God always seemed to make sure I had the means to take care of myself.

Besides having a horrible headache and severe stomach pain (by this time that was the normal for me and I never expected anything else) the wedding went PERFECT. Best day of my life. I am so thankful that I was able to go through with it and that Rachel believed in me (and loved me) enough to stand by my side that day. I sucked up the pain and even managed to participate in a 3 on 3 basketball game the night before with my groomsmen. Part of me believes that going through the entire weekend in this condition made me appreciate every single small aspect of getting married. I would never wish this upon anyone, but looking back I do not have bitter feelings towards being sick during my wedding. God gave me just enough energy and relief.

I was able to go on my honeymoon to Belize and had a wonderful time (although I had to limit myself physically in what I was allowed to do). I got back to the States in the middle of October and finally started focusing on the surgery in the next few days that I was so hopeful would finally give me my life back.

 

 

To be continued…

 

 

Part 2 –  Golfing

 

Tis the season for golfing. I enjoy a good round of golf every now and then. Being in the business world, you better know how to golf if you want to impress your boss or be invited to company outings. I played tennis in high school, so I was introduced to golfing more in college. Self-taught (like most of us in the sport) which means I have lots of bad habits and my game is unorthodox. I have lots of interesting things to share about my experience with this sport, so this week I will share some of them! Remember, these viewpoints are from someone who has little to no formal training and is NOT a golf expert. I maybe golf 7 or 8 times a summer.

 

Watching Golf – Before I started playing golf, I used to casually watch golf tournaments on TV. What a snoozefest. After playing golf in person, my respect for what the professionals are doing could not be higher. Golf is hard. My usual motto is “If there is a tree in my vision, I will hit it”.

 

Mulligans (redo)– To use or not to use. That is the question. When you are terrible golfer (which I am) you find yourself in an interesting dilemma many times during a round. Should I just redo this shot? There is no way I am finding that ball. It literally went into a shark’s mouth hiding in the creek. But I already used two mulligans on the last hole. Does this make me a cheater? How do I compare this score to last round? Can I say I beat my buddy Kramer if I use 8 mulligans in one round? What is your opinion on “breakfast” balls (first shot of the round can be redone for free)? Golf is hard.

 

Twilight Rates – If you are poor like me, take advantage of twilight hour rates. After 6pm (or 6:30 some places) it is just $15 for 9 holes. Yeah you have to worry about not being able to see your ball by hole 9. And chances are the drink cart will still poach you from two fairways away. Golf is hard.

 

Integrity – Picture this. You hit the ball 10 yards or so into the thickness of “Squatch” land. You go to find your ball. NO ONE can see you. You can’t find your ball. There is a beautiful naturally occurring open spot perfect for dropping another ball. This spot would give you the perfect line to hit back right next to the green, possibly saving par (or triple bogey in my case). Do you tell anyone you took a drop? Golf is hard.

 

Bonding – Golf provides a wonderful time for bonding with friends and/or family. You grow a lot with your golfing partners. You learn to perform under pressure. You discover which friends have integrity (see prior section). I also can play this sport with my Dad for a long, long time. People play golf well into retirement. My dad still plans on getting good one of these years ha ha. Golf is hard.

 

Golf Scoring –

The object in golf is to get the lowest score possible. Below is an overview of the scoring possibilities on each hole.

Par – The amount of swings it should take to get the ball in the hole. As determined by the course. But normally follows the simple rule of taking whatever Jarod Gunning would normally get on the hole and subtracting 3.

Ace – A hole in one. Mythical really.

Double Eagle (Formally known as an albatross) – Three shots under par. So this means you are getting a 2 on a par 5.  Also mythical really.

Eagle – Two shots under par. Less mythical.

Birdie – One shot under par. A good golfer relies on a few of these bad Larry’s to make their score competitive. I personally have gotten one of these once in my entire life haha.

Bogey – 1 shot over par. Also a good score for casual golfers.

Double Bogey – 2 shots over par. Referred to as a Bubble Dogey for those who average one of these such as myself 😊 (not really but it is just a fun word to say).

+3 or Triple Bogey – Jarod’s normal score on a hole. And 3 shots over par.

Any strokes higher – Does not have a name, but you say “plus” and the amount of strokes over par. +5 is plus five. I also get a few of these. And besides, who’s even counting

 

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.

 

Golf

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