Chron*ic Persisting for a long time or constantly recurring.
My medical story starts back in the beginning of December 2016. I was at an annual conference for work. I awoke in the hotel like any other morning. Up early at 4:30. Watched some news, got ready for the day, went down and enjoyed breakfast with my coworkers and headed into the large room to enjoy hearing about our results and plans for the new year. An hour into the first presentation I started feeling uncomfortable. That feeling you get when you might pass out. Well, that’s exactly what I did. I passed out. Right there in the front row sitting next to my boss on my right and our regional boss on my left. In front of hundreds of people. I awoke to both bosses asking if I was alright. I was soaking wet. I felt better and took a cloth napkin to sop up my beaded, bald head. I don’t think anyone else noticed as we were all sitting. I was very warm, so I placed a cold bottle of Aquafina on my wrists to help cool down. It was probably twenty minutes later when the feeling came back. That extremely uncomfortable feeling. “Ugh, I’m going to pass out again” I thought to myself. I remember whispering to my bosses I didn’t feel good. The next thing I remember was my regional boss whispering my name. “Jeremy, are you alright? Do you need to leave the room? What can I do to help? My boss was as concerned and quickly gave me some cool water to drink. Our regional health resource manager was sitting at the end of our row and was kind enough to get me a bottle of orange juice. Guessing my sugar may have been a little low, I drank the juice.
At the time of this event, I was a forty-two-year-old territory sales manager for a beverage company. I had worked for them for almost twenty-three years. I looked forward to the annual meeting. It was a time of reconnecting with coworkers whom had taken different rolls or moved to other locations throughout our multistate market. It was an exciting couple of days. Listening to our results and accomplishments for the year we were about to complete. Maybe winning an award or two.
I have never been one to have too many health issues. I did have a stomach thing that I was prescribed medicine for over twenty years earlier. I changed my eating habits and was able to drop the medicine. I have broken a couple bones. Had a stick in my eye. Nothing too bad. I have always strived to be healthy. To live medicine free.
After drinking the juice, I felt better for a few minutes. Stopped up the sweat again from my beaded head and tried to listen to the speaker. Even took a few pictures of the presentation to remember some information and share with the team when I was back to the office. It was also a way for me to try to distract myself from this feeling. It didn’t work. I started to feel worse again. At this time my regional boss and our human resource manager helped me walk down the center aisle to leave the room. I did mention I was sitting in the front row. In a room with hundreds of people.
I tried going into the restroom to splash my face. That was not working. I felt I was going to get sick. I went outside in the cold, crisp air. The air helped cool me down. I was concerned as I couldn’t seem to get it together. I couldn’t override this. After coming inside, it was suggested that an ambulance be called. I was told I needed to notify my wife, Andie, about the situation. This hadn’t occurred to me as I did not want to worry her. It will pass. I just need a little time. I’ll be fine, I always am.
I’ve always been the guy that thinks mind over matter. Push through the pain. If it’s difficult you are learning or growing from it. This was different. I couldn’t control my symptoms. When I felt like I was going to pass out, I would try desperately to think through it. To no avail. My body was winning this battle.
I was not going to go by ambulance. We were only a couple miles from a hospital. My bosses volunteered to take me. Andie was working and a couple hundred miles away when my boss called her. Being the best wife ever, she dropped everything she was doing and drove the several hours to meet me in the ER. Still sitting near the front doors when a meeting break revealed many concerned faces and voices inquiring about my health. It is such a great feeling to have this kind of support.
The ride to the ER is not something I remember much about. I know I was concerned. Was I having a stroke? A heart attack? What is going on? I did not have any symptoms leading up to this event. This is not cool.
After arriving at a well-known hospital in Detroit, going through the metal detector and clearing out my pockets, I found myself in a bed. I received the workup. Drug and alcohol tests came back negative. Electrocardiograph ECG to check my heart revealed it was working fine. It was still beating, a great thing in my eyes. Blood tests looking for any problems showed I was in the normal range with potassium, chloride, carbon dioxide, sodium, glucose, calcium, hemoglobin, white and red blood cell counts, lymphocytes, monocytes and the list went on and on and on. A full work up. I was given a halter monitor which is a device that monitors the heart rate. Let’s take a moment and discuss how halter monitors are applied. There are a few wire leads that need to be placed on your chest and surrounding areas so a good read can happen. I know I mentioned earlier I was bald. Did I mention I was a pretty hairy guy? My kids even say that I am a Sasquatch, maybe the missing link. Do you see where this is going? Sometimes it is necessary to shave a few spots, so the leads will properly adhere. This was the case. The male nurse working on me made the joke he felt like he was shaving Chewbacca. I guess to some I might look like a bald, good looking Wookiee from the Star Wars franchise. I can see it … Maybe? I mean they are intelligent. If only I could make the Chewbacca sound, that would have been hilarious. I digress. The decision was made to place me in a room and monitor me for the evening.
My boss came in to check on me. Knowing people, you work with care for you as a person and not just a worker or coworker does the heart much good.
I have to mention being in the emergency room in a Detroit hospital is quite the eye opener. This country boy heard many patients coming in with heroin overdoses. Through the curtain I could hear a doctor strictly talking with a man about how bad he was going to feel in the near future. I guess the man was dead when the police and emergency services arrived to him. They filled him with all kinds of medicines to bring him back. The reason he was told he was going to feel really crappy. There were young patients, elderly patients and everyone in between dealing with overdoses. It is scary how many people are dealing with addictions. I heard police calling in to ask for a doctor to state the time of death for a woman executed on the streets. It was around two o’clock in the afternoon!
I was given a room with two beds. The second bed was vacant, and we were told Andie could stay the night utilizing the bed if other patients weren’t in need of it. It was evening, and I was feeling much better. The regional boss came to the room. He was concerned and genuinely showed empathy for me. He offered to pay for a hotel room for Andie or if she like he opened his house for her to stay the night with his family. A great guy. The human resources manager surprised me by visiting as well. He assured me not to worry about work and to just take care of myself and get better.
Maybe around midnight a nurse notified us a patient was going to be my roommate. Andie was not going to be able to stay. We called different hotels, and everyone was booked. The other couple was in the same predicament. They were not from the area and the wife had know where to go. I guess trying to sleep in the waiting room chairs was an option. Just not a good one. Since I was feeling better we made the decision to leave. It opened the bed for the other woman. The joys of having the tape ripped off my chest was a real party let me tell you. It may have looked like the movie Forty-Year-Old Virgin, but it didn’t sound like. I kept my cool.
A few hours drive and we arrived home in the very early morning.
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