Friday, October 29, 2010

A Year Lost, A Future Found

Every night for a year I have crashed. Again and again, I call my mom to tell her to come back to the hospital because something bad is happening and the nurses want to take me to the ICU. Each night, the nurses and doctors become more and more panicked when my blood pressure can’t be detected by any available apparatus. Over and over, I feel that most awful sensation of extreme heat and lack of oxygen, easily the worst feeling I can imagine. Each night, I reawake stark naked to the room full of doctors and nurses surrounding me perplexed, wondering what the hell is wrong with me. And every time, my mom and a nurse push my stretcher to the CCU at top speeds, while I proclaim over and over again that I’m going to die.

These are like nightmares, in that I seemingly have no control over their presence or outcomes, yet I am fully awake to experience them with total consciousness. This has been my year.

As the anniversary of my illness neared, I wasn’t sure how I would feel on October 19. I hoped I might be able to finally put those memories of crashing to rest – isn’t 365 nights enough? I thought I might feel some sense of accomplishment or closure. I feared I would more acutely feel the dread and terror that fill me every time I relive that awful first night in the hospital.

Mercifully, my hope seems to have come true. In the days since I passed that one-year milestone, I have been able to fall asleep without reliving my nightmare. While I still toss and turn for quite a while before getting to sleep, now it’s because my brain is filled with forward-looking thoughts like my return to work and exercise goals. I feel like an unspeakable burden has finally been lifted. I have not only survived a year marked by pain, heartache, fear and helplessness, but I have survived [and hopefully left behind] a year haunted by psychological ghosts.

While this past year was tough, I am so grateful that my illness fit neatly into just twelve months. So many others are painfully ill for years on end, never knowing when, or even if, they will feel better. While it is true that my illness is not really cured, only held at bay by modern medicine, the potential for what I can now achieve is truly limitless. It is with this in mind that I can now close my eyes and see a real future.


It’s been a while since I provided a status update, so here it is: Life is good. I have been doing 57 minutes (with breaks!) of cardio exercise at rehab for a few weeks now. In addition to going to rehab three times a week, I exercise on my own two days. I am resuming work part-time on Monday and return to full-time work on November 15. I now have biopsies just once every four weeks. I am almost off of the steroid, Prednisone. I am getting accustomed to my heart-healthy and diabetes-friendly diet. My biggest complaint is frequent headaches – a long way from the debilitating nausea and pain from a few months ago!


  1. Andrea,
    Your sharing of your honest emotions this morning have left me speechless . . . and that is not an easy thing to do (just ask my 11 year Little League player, or is sure no one talks as much as his mom!) I am glad the demons have faded and you are finding a sense of peace. Good Luck starting work on Monday . . . I would guess you will be exhausted just from the glorious "Welcome Back" you will receive.

    Warmest thoughts to you-

  2. So happy for you that you're able to rest, finally. And that your health goals are progressing!