When I hear the word “rollercoaster,” I think of a fairground with rides, balloons, and weenies. My rollercoaster has nothing to do with amusement parks. It involves my pericardial effusion. In layman’s terms, my heart is trying to beat inside a water-filled balloon, and having a tough time doing it. Sometimes I have delightful moments when I hardly know the effusion’s there. Other times it sets me back on my butt, with chest pain and poverty of breath. I wonder if I’ll ever be okay again during those times. I’m on a rollercoaster ride, you see.
My symptoms started January 24 with back pain. Lots of it. Back pain when bending, back pain radiating to the chest, difficulty taking a deep breath. I’ve had back pain before, so I headed to my doctor. After doing an EKG, he sent me to a chiropractor. After a manipulation, I’d feel okay for a day or two, then all the symptoms would return. My appetite went next. I soldiered on, making an appointment with the spine clinic.
Monday ushered in more pain, with a lot of trouble catching my breath. I was running errands to get a prescription for a CAT Scan and mail a package. On the way from the car to the post office, I found myself gasping. If I was thinking straight, and no one who is that sick does, I would’ve gone to the emergency room. Instead I headed to the doctor’s office, and asked if I could sit because of my breathing. The doctor took one look at me and sent me to the hospital. The rest is history.
I’ve told people about my bucket list: hot air balloon ride, wooden hangers, remodeling bedroom, and so forth. It’s funny how sickness changes the priorities. Here’s what’s at the top of my new bucket list:
1. Being able to walk without a skyrocketing heart rate or poverty of breath.
2. Being able to finish my sentences when I talk. At all times.
3. Having my choice of sleeping and sitting positions. At all times.
I’ve written about monsters in Steel Rose and my other books. It’s different when you’re fighting your own monster, and the monster’s lurking inside your body. Sometimes it’s downright scary. I study the images on my ultrasound and think of zombies. So far the docs believe that a virus caused all this, and that it would take time. But we’re still waiting on the final verdict.
I can still write. Blogging has been cathartic for me, and I’ve done a lot of it for my promo tour. So long as I can type this is good. Somewhere down the road, this pericardial effusion is gonna turn up in one of my books. I’ll look over my WIP after a nap.
My balloons are multiplying like rabbits, thanks to some good friends. I’ve got eight of them by my bed. My brother’s watching the house. Many of the Night to Dawn issues have gone out, and I’ll send the rest after I get discharged. My job right now is to get better and write.
Is anyone else out there dealing with a life-changing illness? How has it affected your writing? I look forward to hearing your thoughts.