Post #12 – My Greatest Journey (Chapter 11)

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. 

Hello! Thanks for tuning in for chapter 11 of the POTS journey. Sorry for the long gap since my last post. Life gets busy from time to time. I hope you continue to share this blog with all of your friends!

 

Part 1 –

I got back from my honeymoon in Belize in Mid-October 2016. I literally went back to work for one day, then packed my bags again and headed to Seattle for my MALS surgery. My parents and Rachel both went over with me so I had my support group right there.

Just to refresh all y’all about what MALS is, basically I had a ligament in my chest that was pressing down on one of my main arteries supplying blood to my stomach. There are a couple of different theories about why this may or may not be an issue, but essentially it either involved lack of blood flow to my stomach AND/OR a giant nerve complex being smushed in the same area causing all sorts of weird nerve and signal stuff. Regardless, the fix is a surgery to slice that ligament in half (apparently you don’t need it? Never thought to ask that question).

From a technical standpoint, my surgery once again went smooth as could be. *side note, this surgery ended up being completely free because I had met my out of pocket max for the year. That is a lot of money. My savings was literally drained to exactly two cents*. When I woke up from my surgery I didn’t feel any different, and I was in a lot of pain. This surgery was rough.

Since I have POTS, I am considered “high risk” during operations, so they have people checking in on me during recovery very frequently. During one of the check-ins, they measured my blood pressure. 65/36. THIS IS A REAL READING. They took it multiple times. To put his into perspective, normal healthy blood pressure is 120/80. The clinical definition of low blood pressure is 90/60. Mine was 65/36!!!!! It was so low, that they had to call in the doctor and have a pow wow over in the corner. I heard the doctor in charge of me say, and I quote, “I have never seen a blood pressure that low. I don’t know what to do”. Great thing to say to Mr. Anxiety who is AWAKE AND LISTENING TO EVERYTHING YOU SAY. They asked me questions like “are you feeling ok?”, and made me chug some water. My blood pressure eventually went back to normal (for me) and I didn’t die.

If you read up on MALS surgery, the time it takes to see if it was beneficial varies by a lot. Some people see pain relief instantly. Others see relief gradually over six months. I did not see immediate improvement. Over the next couple of months, I saw no difference in my symptoms. From the end of October to the middle of January, I recovered from my surgery but saw no recovery in my POTS or stomach pain.

As I went back to work in November, my anxiety, depression, and pain were all growing. I had exhausted all of the options I thought were possible. Literally the last treatment option we had left on our plate at the time was the appointment with the POTS specialist in Seattle that was scheduled for early January.

*I want to take moment to mention a few things that will make the rest of the story easier to follow. My surgery was not an immediate success. Over time (as you will see) I begin to see improvement in my symptoms and quality of life. My GI motility specialist is convinced that the surgery was successful and is at least PART of the reason for that. We will probably never know

I also was in an EXTREMELY emotionally and mentally unstable place. I was having panic attacks, I was depressed, and I was annoying the LIVING HELL out of Rachel (pardon my French). Mental health is just as important as physical health and unfortunately, I had neither. POTS is a strange syndrome because it is like a circle. POTS absolutely increases anxiety (fight or flight responses exaggerated), and anxiety absolutely makes POTS works (increased heart rate, lower tolerance for pain, etc).

The treatments that I will begin to try all happen at relatively the same time; medications, lifestyle changes, mental therapy, and exercise. So I credit my recovery to a mix of all of these, not any specific one. I also credit ALL of it to Jesus Christ. I will also go into how important my spiritual journey was in my recovery*.

January soon came and I was on my way back to Seattle to see this POTS specialist. At this point I was used to unmet expectations with my doctors appointments, so I went alone. SPOILER ALERT!!!! This doctor ends up being the most important resource for my recovery. In what turned out to be the most incredible doctors appointment I had ever had, this POTS specialist at the University of Washington gave me the hope I had been looking for. He explained to me exactly what my body was going through, exactly what POTS was, exactly why I felt the way I felt, exactly why I had the symptoms I had. AND the holy grail, he told me his game plan for HOW we were going to treat this condition. He spent over two hours with me explaining the science behind why my body was doing what it was doing. It was the first time in my journey that a doctor was educating me (Dr. Google) on the condition I had. He was brilliant. Ultimately, we settled on a treatment plan that included some lifestyle changes, an exercise program, and a few medications. He told me as I left that day that I had a 50% chance of a FULL recovery. I was pumped.

Lifestyle changes – Limit my sugar intake. Get 8 hours of sleep each night. Limit alcohol (yes I still have some occasional adult beverages).

Exercise program – Lifting weights. Recumbent exercise (bike, rowing, etc) with gradual increase to upright exercise (running, jumping etc).

Medication – Off label use of some medications for other autonomic dysfunction (what POTS is) conditions.

To be continued… My next blog will be the last chapter of my story, so please TUNE IN! I will tie in all that happened over the next 6 months that led me to getting my quality of life back.

 

 

Part 2 – Movie Reviews!

I have been to a few movies recently so this post will be the Dude With POTS movie review!

 

Solo: A Star Wars Story –

So far I have not been the biggest fan of the Star Wars “stand alone” films. But this one defied that trend. I really enjoyed this movie and felt the plot was incredibly unique and creative considering we all know Han Solo couldn’t die yet. There were plot twists, classic Star Wars references, new characters, and plenty of good ole Star Wars action. I honestly have no idea why critics haven’t been giving this film very good reviews. It’s too bad because I will definitely be seeing it again. And the dude with pots is ALWAYS right.

4/5 Stars DUDE WITH POTS Review!

 

Incredibles 2 –

The first Incredibles movie came out 14 years ago (2004). It is one of my favorite movies ever, so I had pretty high expectations for this release. IT LIVED UP TO THE HYPE. The plot was great, the themes were important, and it was entertaining for any age. I took my little brother (Big Brother Big Sister) to go see it with me, and we both loved it. I am all about super hero movies, but Marvel and DC have been kicking out so many of them that this was the refreshing change of pace everyone needed.

4.5/5 Stars DUDE WITH POTS Review!

 

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom –

Again, I went into this movie with pretty high expectations. The first Jurassic World was fantastic in my opinion. This one seemed forced to me. If it had been the first ever Jurassic movie, I think it would have been a little better. But this next chapter of the franchise was disappointing. It felt like it was just created to capitalize on title of the movie. Same plot, same resolution, same everything. SPOILER!.. The dinosaurs escape.

2/5 Stars DUDE WITH POTS Review.

 

Lincoln –

This one was a Netflix movie. I am deeply enthralled by anything history related, so this film was right up my alley. I will warn you, it is 98% just Lincoln talking to his advisers and getting to know more about what was going on in his head during the Civil War. It revolves around Lincoln trying to pass the 13th Amendment. I loved every minute of it. Rachel fell asleep. My Blog My Vote.

3/5 Stars DUDE WITH POTS Review!

 

COCO –

Lots of good reviews out there about this movie, so Rachel and I finally got around to seeing it. Wow what a fun movie 😊 Touching message and very neat to learn about a different culture. The movie is about a boy’s journey into the afterlife to visit his ancestors. Made me think about all of the amazing relatives I no longer have with me (RIP grandma Shirley). LOVE LOVE LOVE. I recommend this one for all ages.

5/5 Stars DUDE WITH POTS Review!

 

 

And now one movie I want to see but it hasn’t come out yet!

 

Christopher Robin –

Don’t judge me. I love Winnie the Pooh and there’s nothing anyone is gonna be able to do to stop me from seeing this one. The invitation is out there for anyone looking to join me 😊

 

 

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 – Me with my Hoopfest team this last weekend! We didn’t do very well. 2019 is going to be our year

 

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