A couple of weeks ago, Barb started feeling tired. This was more than the usual busy professor / wife / mom kind of tired. She was struggling to do the things she normally does. She tried to work through it - as she does - and we just chalked it up to the fact that we have had a lot going on at home lately. Willie transitioned to a new group home (after a stay at NC Start), school started for Liz and Justin (and Justin had some adjustment challenges), the war in Afghanistan ended (and in a way that had real life implications for our Marine wife daughter and Air Force son), and the anniversary of 9/11 (a hugely impactful day for our family) was just around the corner.
We really thought the fact that Barb wasn't feeling her best was a function of the stress we have been under. In addition to all the family stuff, Barb's job is a constant source of stress. Add it all together and it seems logical that a person would feel run down.
After a few days, though, we realized what was happening was not just stress. She began to have a constellation of other symptoms. Muscle weakness, dizziness, and blurry vision. Her voice started to warble and then disappear. She either sounded like a pack a day smoker, or spoke so softly no one could hear her. The fatigue worsened to the point that she couldn't walk across the room, or even talk, without feeling completely out of breath.
This past Friday, she had an acute event. She was on the back porch talking with I and one of our pastors from church when she began struggling to breathe and holding her chest. I have never been around someone having a heart attack, but I have seen a lot on TV. And it looked exactly like the Hollywood version of a heart attack. I was able to walk her to the bed in our office / guest room (the Ogre) and help her lay down. A few hours later the intense pain had subsided, but she was still super tired.
I made an appointment for her at UNC Family Medicine for first thing Saturday. They transferred her to the Emergency Department at UNC Hospital to get a more complete cardiac workup and determine next steps. After an hour or so at the ED, it was clear that she would need to be admitted for further testing, monitoring and care so they began working on finding her a bed. This proved to be challenging because Covid has filled hospital beds everywhere in the state. Luckily, she tested negative for Covid. Twice. Even more luckily, they were able to find a bed at UNC-Hillsborough, where she is now.
She has spent the last few days getting tested and evaluated. Her symptoms are challenging and mysterious. None of the physical or lab tests suggest that she has had a cardiac event. Her heart seems to be working just fine. The origin of her symptoms is a mystery.
This all happened about a year ago, but she was never admitted to the hospital. She did have dozens of diagnostic tests done, and in the end there was no final, definitive diagnosis. Just the possibility that it could happen again.
Which it has.
It's been a lot.
The newsletter will be on indefinite hold until we get Barb better. Her care and wellness (and that of my family) is my only priority right now. When we have a better idea of what is happening, and we know Barbara is safe and stabilized, I will share more thoughts here.
Until then, we have set up a CareBridge site to share updates and coordinate support for our family. Please check it out.
Thank you all for your support. It means a lot.
The newsletter will return soon. I believe that because I believe she will get better.
Be well y'all.
And keep pounding the rock.