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Monday, October 8, 2012

The Beginning of My Story

Well, I'm guessing that you might have noticed that I have blogged for a while (a really long while). I haven't been up to it with all I was dealing with health-wise, but I'm doing better and I thought , perhaps you would like to hear my story. I can't promise you it will be short, because it isn't and for you to fully understand my story, I'm going to have to take you back in time with me. Because my story didn't start last fall, my story started a long time ago.
So, join with me if you will as we travel back to 1995. I am 23 years old and am in my last semester at Coffeyville Community College majoring in art and attending school on a full ride vocal scholarship. February rolls around and I get a nasty cold. I go to the Dr. (not a really great Dr. and he doesn't do much for me, but eventually the cold goes away, or so it seems).
I have an early morning Economics class this last semester and I really struggle to make it there. I am a night owl by nature, by I cannot seem to get myself out of bed in the morning. I chalk it up to my normal tendency to not like mornings. I can't tell you how many times I skipped this class, but it was a lot. Toward the end of the semester, I notice that I have difficulty swallowing. I think that perhaps I have asthma and that it why my airway and throat seem constricted and tell myself not to panic when things get stuck in my throat. Amazingly, I make it to the end of the semester (and I passed my Economics class). I graduate and have plans to start at the College of the Ozarks in the fall, still majoring in art. I've been accepted and even have my roommate assignment. The plan is to continue working until it's time to go to school in the fall. I had been working at Kmart for about a year and then switched to a different job that had promised lots of hours, but that turned out not to be true, so I went back to Kmart and kept the other job, so I was working 2 jobs and was still exhausted and not breathing well.
 Early June rolls around and with it came a visit from my brother and sister-in-law. We had a fun weekend and went on a day trip with my parents and my brother and sister-in-law. We went out to lunch at a KFC and I ordered mashed potatoes because it was the only thing I was pretty sure I could swallow. When we were back home and my brother had gone home, my mom looked at me and told me she didn't like the way I sounded when I was breathing. Her exact words were "You sound like a death rattle". So after some discussion, it is decided that she will call the Dr. that she and my dad have just switched to. I haven't switched to him, I have no Dr. and I have no insurance. My mom calls the Dr. and he tells her to bring me to the emergency room and he will meet her there. It's a Sunday night, the Dr. is pretty awesome, as I will soon find out. We drive to the emergency room in Independence, KS (the next town over from Coffeyville) and start the joy of waiting in the emergency room. The Dr. sees me and they do all the normal stuff that they do when someone is having difficulty breathing. They take x-rays and they give me a shot for swelling and send me home saying that I should visit the Dr. later in the week. I go home and finally sleep, which is something I haven't been able to do for a day or two, as I was not able to breathe if I was laying down.
Very early the next morning the phone rings. It's the hospital and they want me to come in for a CT scan. The x-ray shows something pressing on my windpipe and they want to get a better look. So, I go in for the CT and it is one of the worst experiences. I must be dehydrated because they can't find a vein anywhere (not that I have easy to find veins to begin with). The radiologist gets in on the act and pokes me about 8 million times, some of those in the wrist which is extremely painful! Finally, they find a vein and we are in business. We do the CT scan (breathe in, hold your breath...breathe - that's what I heard over and over). After the CT scan, I head to work, which I called the night before to say I wasn't feeling well and couldn't work that night. This was completely true, but since I didn't sound sick the manager I talked to told my co-workers that I was faking. A nice co-worker informed me of this fact and I showed the co-worker my multitude of bandages from where they had tried to find my veins and I asked her "Does this look like faking?" She didn't think so and neither did our HR person when I shared this with her...that manager moved on soon after this event.
Okay, that was a little detour about life in general, now back to the story. Let's the visit to the ER was June 10th. The CT scan was June 11th and I was scheduled to meet with my Dr. to get the results on Wed. My mom left for cheerleading camp and my dad was at work, so I went to the Dr. by myself. Side note: if my parents had any idea what was about to happen, there is no way in the world I would be at that appointment alone, but they had no idea. I personally, believe that I am very sick and of the options that have floated around me, I have this nagging feeling that this won't go away easily. I think that I have cancer, but I try to convince myself that I'm just being fatalistic, just choosing the worst case scenario.
Wednesday arrives and I drive myself to see the Dr. I'm taken back to one of the rooms and I wait for the Dr. comes in. "The CT scan shows a mass in your chest." he tells me. "It's going to need to be removed surgically. I'm going to call a thoracic surgeon. I'll try Wichita first, but we need to get you in to whoever can see you the soonest." He leaves to make some calls and I wait there, alone, struggling not to completely lose it. I am scared to death.
The Dr. comes back and has an appointment scheduled for me with a thoracic surgeon on June 19th in Tulsa, OK. I leave the Dr.'s office and drive straight to my Dad's office to see my dad. I am seconds from losing it. I get to my dad's office and I go straight to his office, the tears start streaming down. He takes me into his boss's office (the only true office in the building, the rest are cubicles) and through gulps and sobs I explain that I am going to need to have surgery.
 To be continued...

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