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I Ain’t Dead Yet… But I Probably Should Be: A Cautionary Tale

Ryan Lindley Dec 4, 2021
Why the “walk it off” mentality when it comes to your health Can Be Fatal. It’s a mystery at this point why I am able to write this today. I should be in an urn on the Book shelf.

Around the beginning of October, I noticed a small cough brewing in my chest. Right around the same time as Lochlin Cross said he had the same thing. Not one to panic about this stuff, I let it go for a few weeks and carried on. One morning it was particularly aggressive and I noticed a little bit of blood in what I was hacking up. Bright red blood is usually not a bad thing when you’re dealing with a viral bronchitis I learned after a quick chat with the doctor’s office, I let it go and went on with life. Little did I know that the worsening cough was actually a sign of something REALLY bad happening inside of me.

Fast forward to mid-November. The cough started to subside and the blood was gone. Just as predicted, this thing must be almost out of my system! Friday November 19th I fired up the smokers and started preparing for “Faturday.” An all day gorge-fest between Dean and I, along with some special guests.

Saturday morning

I called it a night around 2am with everything prepped and ready to rock. The plan was to get a good night sleep and head out to Dean’s around lunchtime on Saturday. After waking up around 8, I felt sluggish and physically exhausted. To ensure I was okay, I administered a Covid-19 rapid test with a negative result. You don’t want to be that guy who brings the pulled pork, mushroom caps and a novel coronavirus to the party, right? I hopped in the shower and shit went south fast. I’ve never been so out of breath in my life from doing absolutely nothing. I hit the bed and stayed there until my heart rate dropped and I caught my breath. Packed up the car and made the hour-long journey to the ‘Faturday Field.’ Sitting down driving and not using any muscles, I felt absolutely fine. The minute I stood up, it felt like I had jogged around the block. Took a few steps and now I’m panting. Stairs?? Holy shit I was almost passing out.

Fashionably Late with a Dynamic Entrance

I got to Dean’s place and met him in the driveway. He took one look at me and knew something wasn’t right. At this point I was going to drop the goodies off and just truck it back home to bed. Dean convinced me to take a load off first and make sure I was okay to drive. This asshole lives in a 3-story walk up style town which is not conducive to someone in respiratory distress. He planted me on a loveseat on the ground floor and let me catch my breath and guided me through some nifty box-breathing exercises that saved me from passing out cold. I slowly made my way up the 4,890 stairs to his main floor where guests had already arrived and were ready to call 9-1-1 on my behalf at this point.

Dean Becomes Nonna Blundell

Realizing I hadn’t actually eaten anything all day (going on 4pm at this point) Nonna Blundell hooked me up with some oranges, DELICIOUS bougie cookies from a really fancy bakery and some fizzy water. I actually felt better getting them in me and decided not to be a rude guest and tough it out. As long as I stayed in the chair, I was golden! Dean was dog-sitting for some friends. ‘Gucci’ showed us what it was like to be the top dog as he slow-humped his bed about 17 times in under an hour. Impressive AF. We had a fantastic evening of laughs, great chats and food. Well, they ate. I wasn’t eating any of the kickass BBQ I made. I get a kick out of other people enjoying the food, so I wasn’t upset. Deep down I knew something was wrong and my appetite wasn’t there. We wrapped the evening up around 11:30 and I headed back for Hamilton.

Gucci the Stud
Monday November 22

I skipped Sunday because it was a blur. Slept most of it away. I knew something was definitely off, so I pre-emptively booked off work Monday and called the doctor’s office. This exhaustion was at it’s peak. The doctor reluctantly ordered a chest x-ray at a clinic near me. At the end of our call, he said “no news is good news. If you don’t hear from me, just rest up and drink lots of fluids.” I battled the fatigue and shortness of breath to get there and get the x-rays done. While there, I signed up for the “Pocket Health” membership so I could get a look at the imagining and the radiologist report when it became available. I’m convinced this move saved my life. I stopped at the pharmacy, grabbed some cough meds and vitamins and headed for the couch.

Tuesday november 23

Woke up feeling the same. Checked my email and all the x-rays and reports were there. Poured a coffee and started to read them:

Even an idiot would take one look at this and know something isn’t right. I immediately called the “no news is good news” doctor’s office back and was told by reception they received the imagining and reports and the doctor will call if there is an issue. So, I sat back on the couch, popped my cough meds and drank a half-dozen hot teas and watched a bunch of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Didn’t get a call all day.

Wednesday November 24

Somehow woke up again. Still no call from the doctor, so I called again. Once more, I was headed off at the pass by the receptionists who assured me I would get a call. I remember telling them some of the words in that report to try and shake it up to no avail. By 2pm I still hadn’t heard anything. I called back. I was told to call after 5pm and speak to the on-call doctor because my doctor was too busy to speak to me. So I did. The on-call doctor took one look at the x-ray and told me to get to the ER immediately. Off I go at 5:30pm to the hospital. I park the car and had to hoof it in. It took me almost an hour to walk the equivalent of a city block. I must have stopped at least a dozen times to catch my breath. I registered at triage and waited my turn.

Do you want us to intubate you if needed? Do you have any wishes regarding resuscitation?

Once I was seen by the ER doctor, a slew of tests were ordered. ECG, x-ray, CAT scan, blood marker tests etc. It came fast and hard. I was in pretty good spirits, hoping that soon I would get a prescription for some antibiotics and get my ass back to my couch to have Larry David make me laugh until I fell asleep. All these doctors were moving at a lightning pace around me. Once all the procedures were done, the doctor came with a very serious face on and asked about my wishes if shit went south. I laughed it off and thought we were wrapping it up. She wasn’t kidding. I was in a lot of trouble and the team there wasn’t sure how I was still upright, let alone making wisecracks.

My CT scan revealed multiple pulmonary embolisms (blood clots in the lungs) and my resting heart rate was ~120 beats per minute. My heart was pushing blood against a proverbial “brick wall.” A crash cart was placed close by. I was told I wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Living in the E.R. for 3 days

I’m a curious, inquisitive guy by nature. I enjoy being in strange circumstances and observing what’s happening around me. So, for the first half day, the stay on a stretcher in the ER wasn’t too bad. Remember, I felt no pain through this, so the only discomfort I had was the 2″ mattress housing my bed-ridden fat ass. The first day was filled with echocardiograms, doppler ultrasounds and a lot of awesome doctors from the Hamilton Health Sciences Thrombosis and Internal Medicine teams. That novelty wore off quickly though. Being admitted to the actual ER means no visitors due to Covid-19 Restrictions. It also means no peace or quiet or sleep. It’s an ER!

Almost immediately I was relegated to strict bed rest. Stretching my legs meant swinging them off the stretcher and sitting up. That was it. Stir crazy, scared about the unknown and missing my wife and kid hit me pretty hard. At one point I unfairly lashed out at my doctor (who had my back the entire time I was in the hospital, and continues to even today) when they wanted to have the med students examine me and my collection of clots. Sorry, Dr. Martin! You’re a rock star! Tell the med kids they can come to the house for a BBQ and a check under the hood anytime.

Moving on Up & Out!

Friday evening, that same Doctor I was a dillhole to made me a deal and got me into a ward room with a real bed and the ability to see my family. I slept like I was on the nod that first night. The next day, Ashley and Kaylee came to see me. I don’t have much to report on other than the food at this point, so I’m going to wrap up the story here. I got the run down on what life was going to be like for the next little while. I’m on a heavy amount of blood thinners I have to administer by injection twice a day. I bruise like a peach now! The clots should start to break down slowly at this point, but being unprovoked, I’m on meds probably for life. My numbers finally got to the point where I was finally discharged Monday. I can breath again, stairs are no longer a challenge and I’m getting stronger every day. Back to work on Monday too.

Why did I write this?

Don’t be like me. Don’t ignore the small stuff. You’re the best judge of your own overall health. Don’t let your doctor’s reception team diagnose you. Don’t let them minimize your issue to the point of self-doubt. I was told in the hospital by different doctors of different disciplines that if I had ignored this for 24-48 hours more, I would be dead. Speak up and get the answers you deserve. Become your own advocate and never shut up. It could be your life at stake without you even knowing it. And if that isn’t enough, Here’s a selection of the cuisine you can look forward to. As a food guy, this may have been the hardest part!

Cheers to good health. Yours and Mine!
Ryan Lindley

Ryan Lindley is a dad, husband, hack chef & Host of The Lindz Report. He's also the curator of 'Ryan Lindley's: Getting Sauced' on the Network. Hobbies include exposing grifters and debunking pseudoscience. You can find him over by the BBQ, or yelling on twitter @RyanLindley.

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