I Thought I Was Going To Die
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Welcome to the first fitness journal entry of 2008. I have high hopes and positive expectations for this new year in terms of weight loss and attaining fitness goals. But as we have seen in earlier entries, sometimes we hit unexpected bumps in the road, some of which can be symbolic of serious health issues. I hit one such bump this weekend, and as I write, I am still feeling the after-effects thereof.
My Friday basketball session was intense and positive, and I feel like I am continuing to make strides in improving my offensive and defensive skills. The day before, though, I felt like I was getting beat up on the court. I took an elbow to the side of the head while under the basket. The blow was sufficient enough that I saw a flash of light for a split second, but after some initial pain, I continued playing, and I thought nothing of it after that. I was also tripped in transition down the court, but I took the tumble well, getting up to my feel quickly, and we continued to play.
Friday evening is when the real trouble began. I took may 12 year-old son on a church youth retreat to Blandy Farms, a conference center located on a remote farm in Clarke County, Virginia. The church youth had pizza that night, and I enjoyed being with them during the early evening hours. As I sat and listened and participated in the activities, I began to feel nauseous and dizzy. I excused myself to the counselor's apartment where I had put my gear for the night. Hugging the toilet, I thought maybe I had eaten something that was causing food poisoning. I never vomited, but the vertigo got so bad that I could not move. I planted myself on the couch, and tried to signal to my pastor via cell phone that I was in serious physical distress. He eventually came up and asked "George, are you alright?"
As the ride progressed, my breathing returned to normal, and the attending paramedic gave me some anti-nausea medicine by way of IV. I was placed in an emergency room area and attended to by great medical staff. At first, my heart was given some attention as my EKG showed an unknown irregularity. This was later ruled as normal because my records from a 2004 EKG were unavailable, so there was nothing to which the irregularity could be compared. Blood work showed nothing unusual, so the next suspect was investigated: my brain. Did the blow two days earlier to my head in basketball have caused balance issues? Could I be experiencing a stroke and not know it? The attending physician wanted to know, so around 2:00 AM, I was wheeled to the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) room, where my head underwent a series of scans. (The MRI process sounded like loud buzzing and humming as the different regions of my brain were surveyed). It was a challenge not to go into panic mode during the test, but I kept my eyes shut and tried to control the imagery and thought patterns I was experiencing during the test, which took about fifteen minutes to complete. The MRI game back normal, and the chance of brain injury was ruled out. I was relieved.
So what was it that caused the vertigo and nausea? By default, the diagnosis was an inner ear infection, and I still feel some residual dizziness as I proceed through my day. It gets worse after eating, so I was given take two medicines for both symptoms as needed. My body is fighting a low-grade fever, which may also be part of an inner ear infection. I am hoping to be back to full strength tomorrow so I can get back on the court. I lifted every other day last week, so I am using the weekend to repair muscle tissue, and I will be back in the gym as well. At the worst point of the shortness of breath and dizziness, I thought :This is it. I am going to die." But due to some great attention from the paramedics out there in Clarke County, the persistent attentiveness of my pastor, who stayed with me until the wee morning hours, and the expertise of the hospital staff in Winchester, I am doing OK.
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