I thought I was having a heart attack. Or maybe a panic attack. But the more I sat there, wheezing, chest tight, arms numb – the more I realized I was probably going to die.
This was it, I had finally worked myself to death. Putting in 80 hours a week had lead to… curtains. God was going to slow me down by putting me in a grave.
It was 1:15am.
ME: Shaun… *nudging him* Shaun… wake up. *nudging harder* SHAUN! I THINK I AM DYING! *punching him in the arm*
SHAUN: What’s going on? What’s happening?
ME: I am driving myself to the closest hospital. I’m having a heart attack or a panic attack. Stay here with the kids, I’ll call you when I know more.
I’m not sure if you’ve ever driven yourself to the hospital when you think you’re dying or maybe having a panic attack, but I did. Which made me freak out even more. What if I didn’t make it to the hospital? What if croak on the road and no one is around at 1:22am to help me?
I couldn’t call Shaun because he surely went back to sleep, and waking him up is next to impossible. So I called my mother in Arizona. She’s a super light sleeper. I told her over bluetooth that I was pretty sure I was dying, and just to stay on the line until I reached the ER.
Needless to say, I made it to the hospital. They ran a bunch of tests for a couple days. They told me I had an enlarged heart and pulmonary hypertension.
Good. I wasn’t dying. But also? THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A SIMPLE PANIC ATTACK. This wasn’t the best hospital in the area to be receiving such a serious diagnosis. One time they accidentally threw away a healthy human kidney during a transplant mix up.
I had to get out of this hospital. I had somehow been surviving life with an enlarged heart, and now they would surely be the ones to kill me. Why did I come to this hospital? OMG YOU GUYS! WHY DID I COME TO THIS HOSPITAL OF DEATH?!
I decided to tell my Facebook following what I had been up to for the last two days. After all, how would you guys function in your daily lives without knowing what’s going in my daily life?! Plus I was sort of freaking out, and I believe in the power of prayer.
It went something like this:
“Please pray for me, you guys. I fucked up and came to UTMC, where they are telling me I have an enlarged heart and pulmonary hypertension (don’t Google it – sounds like a death sentence). Anyway, I am trying to get moved to Toledo Hospital. They won’t let me leave. They want to run more tests. The official hashtag for this new adventure is #MeredithsBigFatHeart.”
Most of you were so funny and cool and supportive and very concerned.
But then this weird fucking thing happened with some of you. SOME of you decided fat shaming would be the right thing to do during this time.
Here is what SOME of you had to say to me:
“Wow. Scary! You’re going to need to completely change your lifestyle and eat better.”
“Lose 20 pounds.”
“STOP SMOKING! EAT RIGHT!”
“You shouldn’t take Adderall!”
“Did they put you on a strict diet yet?”
“Party is over! No more alcohol or fatty foods for you!”
And on and on and on. There were over 300 comments on this post. A solid 20 of them were some sort of advice about how I need to lose weight or change my lifestyle or stop taking my prescribed medication.
Talk about getting kicked in the gut while you’re down. I get it! I AM FAT! But for fuck’s sake, do you think I’m the new Chris Farley? Living recklessly?
I’ve never been seriously sick before. So maybe this is just how it goes. When people get cancer do other people tell the cancer patient what they did wrong to get the cancer? I sure hope not. Because HOW SHITTY for the person with the new cancer diagnosis.
Anyway, to everyone who wanted to fat shame me while I was experiencing a heart problem – you’re assholes. ASSHOLES.
Let me help you find better words. Here’s a list of acceptable things to say to sick people:
“Praying for you!”
“Hang in there!”
“Any hot male nurses?”
“Hope you don’t die! But if you do, can I have your Chi flat iron?”
I ended up leaving the Hospital of Death, and I’ve been seeing many amazing specialists for last month.
I finally have real answers.
I do not need a complete lifestyle change. I have never been told ONE TIME to lose weight. And not one single doctor cared that I “party smoke” (where you smoke sometimes for fun when you’re drinking alcohol). Hell, they didn’t even care when I was honest about my love of marijuana. No one told me Adderall is causing this. And the amount of red wine I drink is actually a great thing for my heart.
I have allergies. I have allergies so severe, that the doctors have never seen a test like this. They don’t know how I’ve been able to function. It’s a mystery to them.
Normal people score about 160 on their allergy test. People with lots of allergies score a 400. I scored greater than 5,000.
The allergies have manifested in my lungs, and over time, it has caused me to only use my lungs at 60% of their capacity. It’s why they thought something was wrong with my heart, which is working too hard because my lungs are wonky.
That’s my problem. I cannot breathe. I am Bubble Boy. So we’re working on fixing this. Me and my doctors. It’ll be trial and error with meds and inhalers until we get it figured out.
Allergies are a real bitch. But feeling like a giant worthless fat ass slob, when you’re asking for prayers and scared…
Well, that’s even worse.