An Unexpected Turn of Events

How did I get to where I am now?

And exactly where is the place? Currently I am in a hospital being cared for by a wonderful brigade of doctors and nurses. Yeah, but to quote The Talking Heads, “how did I get here?”

My partner and I went on a 10 day Caribbean cruise over the Christmas holiday which was literally all fun and games – with many snorkeling excursions – until it wasn’t.  As I have previously posted, my 30 year career with the USPS did not involve many holiday vacations. My choice was always the summer months and by the time the vacation board came back around to me, Christmas was always gone.  So this cruise was going to be a retirement/vacation that we never got to have.

Everything was going splendid until day 5 when I came down with a severe sore throat. Within 24 hours the infection moved up into my nose and I developed a cough. The only good thing was by this time our excursions were over and we had 2 sea days back to port. I spent most of my time in the cabin sleeping or out on the balcony.  Then we had a full day of trying to get back home.

Flying these days has enough issues. Throw in post pandemic garden variety colds, Covid mutations, flu and RSV and you are literally in a pick your own adventure of “what am I carrying”? I tried my best to isolate (read: impossible after Christmas rush) and not cough but that was not happening.  And with every uncontrollable burst of hacking up a lung I felt the glare of a hundred fellow travelers knifing my back. My only consolation were the other hacks, sneezes and sniffles that surrounded me.

And here I sit in room #5330

After a throughly miserable night I called my HMO, thinking a quick trip to urgent care would be all I needed. A few pokes, tests and drugs and I’ll be good to go. The nurse on call, after listening to my symptoms, wouldn’t touch my case with a ten foot pole and suggested that I go directly to the ER. A few pokes and prods later the nurse came back with the results: negative for Covid. Hey, great. My streak is intact! I haven’t caught that bugger yet! Then the shoe dropped: positive for RSV. Then the bomb dropped: we’ll be admitting you overnight.

Wait. What? It’s a little congestion (and a butt ton of coughing). A few modern day miracle drugs and I can get back to working out and preparing for my hike, right?

Not so fast, my friends

As Lee Corso says. In all the blood work ups the doctors found that my heart is secreting into my blood an enzyme called troponin. Currently the level is at .07 but stable. Unfortunately the norm is between .01 and .03. The doctor this morning has advised me to contact my primary care physician for an echocardiogram and a stress test. My chart is filled with numbers and blood level whatever-they-check-for that have no context or meaning to me. The good news so far is that I may be getting released this afternoon.

Where do we go from here?

Good question. I need to get these new tests done ASAP. I need to get healthy so I can resume my workouts. And of course my mind is racing with questions about what these new tests will find. What if the doctors do find an underlying heart condition? Will it be manageable? I’ve got less than 60 days until my flight and shuttle. I don’t have time for this.

As John Lennon once sang, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

To be continued…

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Comments 9

  • Charissa : Dec 30th

    I hope you feel better soon and get some answers from the tests. RSV is no fun. I’m a retired Peds ICU nurse. Over the years I took care of many babies and toddlers who were very sick with it.

    • Andrea Stilwell : Dec 30th

      It’s the incessant coughing! I can’t lay down because that position triggers it. I can’t move much and forget laughing. All the nurses I’ve spoken with are saying hospitals are full of these adult cases. Yikes. Thank you for being a care provider. So much respect. I’ll be out there by hook or crook.

      • Peter Spirito : Jan 28th

        Testing, Testing, Testing. I will be following you.

  • jen l : Dec 30th

    Big bummer, but you’ll make it through and it’ll be just another bump in this long road. God speed to health!

    • Andrea Stilwell : Dec 31st

      Thank you. This is going to be a long recovery.

  • Linda in NY : Dec 30th

    Well that sounds lousy. Glad you had the good vacation. Now have the tests and think positive. Just think of all that fresh forest and mountain air you’ll be breathing on the trail soon.

    • Andrea Stilwell : Dec 31st

      Yes, being out in nature is a great healer.

  • Crossword : Dec 30th

    I retired in Feb 2020 expecting to get on trail a couple months later. Ended up being 2 years before I got out there. The trail will be there. Make sure you take care of your health. You never know what tomorrow will bring!

    • Andrea Stilwell : Dec 31st

      The trail will be there indeed. It’s the mental game of expectations that’s hard.


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