Ed’s Not-So-Excellent Adventure

Ed’s Not-So-Excellent Adventure December 22, 2012

Where in the world has Ed been, many have been wondering. He reliably posts 10 times a day or more. What could possibly be keeping him offline and out of communication all this time? Did he have a heart attack and die? Well, close. And now that I have a real computer, I can tell everyone the whole story of what happened.

A week ago (exactly last Saturday), I was experiencing some serious pain in my abdomen, near my kidneys. It was keeping me from sleeping at night, it was so bad. So I drove to the emergency room in Greenville. They ran some urine tests and didn’t find anything wrong with my kidneys, so they gave me some vicodin and told me to call my regular doctor on Monday morning. So I wait…

Fast forward to Sunday night and suddenly I’m having trouble breathing. I can’t walk 5 feet without feeling like I’m gonna fall over, my heart is racing a mile a minute and I keep waking up drenched in sweat. I decide not to wait to see my regular doctor and not to try to drive to the ER, so I call 911. The ambulance came Monday morning and they thought I was having a heart attack. I get to Greenville ER and the doctor there immediately decides to send me to Butterworth hospital in Grand Rapids, a world-class medical facility, especially for cardiac problems.

I get to Butterworth with my heart rate over 160. They did a heart catheter and found no blockages at all. They did a CAT scan and found the lining of my heart a bit thick and the right ventricle a bit stiff, but those things shouldn’t cause the problems I was having. All day Monday they did tests, also finding that my lymph nodes were swelled badly. Tuesday morning about 10 AM, my heart rate goes over 200 bpm and they decide they can’t wait any longer, they have to open me up.

So, Black and Decker to the sternum and they are shocked to find a ton of fluid in my chest, pushing down on my heart and lungs and making my heart go into overdrive to keep oxygen in my system. They do a biopsy on the lymph nodes, clean things up, install three chest tubes and sew me back up. Sometime in the middle of the night, I ripped out my ventilator tube (I told them that better not be on my bill, I did it myself). As for what caused all of this, that’s still not certain.

There are two possibilities left — a fungal infection and sarcoidosis, an auto-immune disorder that essentially has to be diagnosed by ruling out all the other possibilities. It’s treatable and should be able to be handled medically without long-term problems. Looks like I’ll be allowed to leave tomorrow, but I’ll need to stay with a friend to look after me for the first week or so before going home.

It’s all been quite an adventure, and not a pleasant one. But given all the possible alternatives, the news is relatively good and the prognosis is positive. I feel quite lucky, both to have excellent medical care provided by brilliant and committed doctors, nurses, technicians and research scientists, and to have a great family and friends who have rallied around me and provided a great deal of support. Thank you all so much for the well wishes and the positive messages.

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