The Heart of the Matter: Life Changing News

Imagine feeling like you are having a constant asthma attack, but unable to do anything to get relief. Imagine just the simplest tasks causing you to be out of breath, or make your heart beat even faster, including just tying your shoes, or getting dressed. Imagine having to sit down to rest constantly, because you feel like you are about to pass out. Or having people ask if you are okay, because you sound like you just ran a marathon, when all you did was sweep a small area in the kitchen.

This has been my life for sometime now, and has only progressively worsened since having COVID earlier in the spring/summer. You may say "it is because you are fat and need to lose weight", but it is a bit more to the story.

Back in November 2019, I was admitted to the hospital with fatigue, dizziness, and the possibility of blood clots due to the swelling in my leg. What they found at that time was only an issue of blood clots. Only. I released with no further plan, except that I became very ill while in the hospital. It became pneumonia, and I struggled to recover.

Fast forward to October 11, 2020. I had been busy the week leading up to the weekend with purging and cleaning, and moving heavy boxes to the curb for pickup. That resulted in me feeling as if I was having a constant mild asthma attack. I had found my inhaler at one point, only to lose it again. A call into Teledoc only resulted in allergy and asthma as my diagnosis and a new inhaler sent to the pharmacy. 

By Sunday evening, I was still miserable, so I called the nurse line through the insurance company. They asked a simple question that led me to the ER: are either of your calves swollen and in pain. My answer was an immediate yes. I had not put much thought into the swelling, as they swell often, and with pain. 

After being tested over five hours, the diagnosis was pulmonary arterial hypertension. In layman's terms, I have high blood pressure in my lungs and it is damaging my heart. 

I never had high blood pressure until I had COVID. I had slightly elevated levels whenever I didn't feel well, but not feeling well as happening more often. Turns out that all of the symptoms I had been experiencing over the past couple of years were related to this, but had not been far advanced enough to be identified. 

So, what does that mean? I have doctor appointments lining up at what seems daily. Tomorrow morning is my first stop with my GP, and she set aside extended time to meet with me. I'm still waiting on that appointment with the pulmonologist, but I'm certain that my doctor will direct me to another within that hospital system. And maybe get in faster. 

But for now, I'm to avoid people at all costs. That means pretty much being a shut-in until COVID is over (and no, people are not going to suddenly feel better or rise from the dead on November 4th). The doctors told me it will probably be February before I can really integrate again. 

In the meantime, I'm not allowed to lift anything over 20 lbs, change my lifestyle habits, like diet and exercise (and I was just getting excited about extending my Fitbit goals). As for work, it may result in me either filing for SSDI and/or working part-time. Avoiding anything that raises my blood pressure at all costs. 

So, you see, my life has been turned upside down at the moment. I've done a lot of research and introspection on the whole situation. Depending on the additional test results that are yet to come will determine the rest of my life. I'm not dead yet. Just sidelined.