It just occurred to me that I never did say what they know that I do have for sure. I had severe PERICARDITIS. (Something they don’t see happen randomly to healthy 21-year-old girls too often, hence the bestowing of the title “medical anomaly.”)
Pericarditis is when too much fluid collects around the heart and causes severe inflammation and pain. Normal people have about 40 cc (1-2 oz.) in their pericardium…I managed to have about 400 cc (about ½ a liter) and then drain at least an additional 400 cc from the tubes they inserted in surgery. If Pericarditis goes untreated it can lead to heart failure, which is really close to where I was. It puts the heart under tremendous pressure. Mine was beating at around 140 bpm and not very efficiently. My blood pressure also kept dropping dangerously low. At first the doctors wanted to try and reduce the fluid through medicine, specifically steroids. After about a week in the hospital, they saw that the fluid was actually increasing rapidly and becoming fibrous, so the only option was…[cue dramatic music]…HEART SURGERY!!! The doctor literally walked in and said, “You have to have heart surgery tomorrow morning, we can’t wait.” Come to find out that if we had waited any longer to do the surgery, it may have been too late. But not to worry, because God is always looking out for me! He is so good! :) Despite the rumors, no, it was not open heart surgery. There was no bone broken at all. They did it through the cartilage below the sternum. The surgery they did is called a “Pericardial Centesis” and they inserted a “pericardial window” and took a biopsy of my pericardium. They make a 5 inch incision in your chest and insert a rubber tube that comes out below the incision. I literally have an exclamation mark scar on my chest now…it’s pretty sweet!
Anyways, I had a rubber tube coming out of my chest collecting my “heart juice” for about 8 days after surgery. The point is to create a drain to reduce the amount of fluid that is collecting around the heart. Now I am on some serious amounts of steroids, along with lot of other junk, for the next couple months which basically help control the fluid buildup. For anyone who has ever had to take steroids (legally, I mean) YOU KNOW HOW MUCH THEY SUCK! They really screw your body up. But it’s either feel crappy from the medicine or heart failure, I think I’ll take my chances with the meds.
So what do I do now? Well, according to the doctors, I was severely sick and my body had a lot of trauma, and it will take a long time for me to recover completely. But it is better to slowly and completely recover, than to try to do too much and relapse, so…I have been instructed to stay home the rest of the semester and devote myself to absolutely nothing but recovery. Yay! I am actually excited about this. A girl knows how much she can take, and let me tell you, there is no way I could go back to school. I am to cut all stress out of my life and just focus on controlling the side effects of the drugs and slowing gaining my strength back. I am thinking that pretty soon, I won’t even need a walker. I am giving myself about 1-2 weeks and then I really do think I will be walker free! Here’s hoping!
So, ultimately there are two options of what is really wrong with me:
Option 1: I have some kind of Auto-Immune Disease or Rhuematological disorder, which is the true cause of the Pericarditis and inflammation. The Pericarditis is just a reaction to that. If it is this option, I may have a disease that won’t go away, but not to worry because with the proper care, the symptoms are all controllable. People can live full and happy lives with these things. It just takes an entire lifetime devoted to taking care of your body.
Option 2: I had Severe Viral Pericarditis. This is the better of the two options, because if it really was some random virus that attacked my heart, it can heal and won’t necessarily recur. I will recover 100%.
Let us all be praying that I am dealing with Option 2! I have a great feeling that I am. God can heal anyone from anything. We all saw what happened with Anaheed. He can completely wipe away whatever I have. Who knows!
They have done tons of testing and will continue to do so, and so far I am coming up with mixed results. When they first started testing for the auto-immune disorders, I was coming up positive. As they continued with much more complex and specific tests, the results came out negative. I confused them yet again. The doctors kept saying that this was really odd. They don’t understand. But I know what happened. All this time that I am in the hospital, PEOPLE HAVE BEEN PRAYING. If you don’t believe in the power of prayer…well, let me tell you something…IT WORKS! My entire family, entire church, entire Harding campus, all my friends, and all my friend’s friends, and all my parent’s friend’s friends were praying.
I mean, seriously, how do you explain that I started out testing positive, then all of a sudden the tests started coming out negative!?! GOD!!! Isn’t He amazing?!? Yes! Yes He is! And the truth is that even if it isn’t viral and it doesn’t go away. He is still amazing. No matter what happens. Even if it does end up being something much more serious, even if I have to deal with problems the rest of my life, God is still amazing. My family and I will always feel this way. Without a doubt. No matter what! :)
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