It’s no secret that this geezer suffers from chronic fatigue and over the last month or so, I have been feeling even more lethargic and depressed then ever. Sometimes fulfilling the simplest of tasks become took a massive amount of energy and will to complete. But, despite the fatigue and depression, I have to say that I have been amazed and and full of joy at seeing just how the Lord has worked through me, over me and within me. Conversations, prayers with others, sharing the good news of Christ and seeing people’s hardened hearts melt and not to mention well the heart breaking conversations of life that some have shared with me.
In 2001 I had a series of anaphylaxis reactions, something which while we never quite put our finger on, we believe was linked to the homemade bread we were cooking and eating at the time. Some of the warning signs of this were itchy hands, feet and eyes. The first time it happened to me it was like I was covered in mites or fleas and the itch was driving me crazy. Not knowing what it was, I left the meeting I was at to go home and have a shower, only to collapse outside beside my car. I was found, ambulance called, given an injection of adrenaline and carted off to hospital. Over the next 2 months, I was to experience a number of such experiences, all starting with itchy hands and feet. After the first time, I was given an Epi pen (preloaded needle with adrenaline) with the instructions that if it happened again, and there were no emergency services around, whack it into my leg and press the plunger. The next time my hands started itching, I rang the ambulance, told them what was happening, with the words to the effect that – This might sound really stupid, but I have itchy hands, and …. They were at my place within 8 minutes and told me to get into the van and they took me to hospital. It was around 12 minutes later in the van my tongue started to swell up and I couldn’t breathe. A few weeks later I was to experience this happening again. I had people praying for me. I was praying for me. And combined this with some specialist dietary advice we gave away the homemade bread, and the attacks stopped.
On Friday night just gone, I was at home with my wife around the 11:30pm mark. Earlier we had tucked into pizza, ribs, and a very indulgent and nice caramel slice at a friends place as we celebrated his birthday. We came home and around 10:30pm I had an urge for a snack and tucked into an orange. 10 to 15 minutes later my hands started to itch. And it wasn’t just a normal itch.. .it started to build up into a crazy itch. Then my feet and eyes started to itch.. crazy like.. It didn’t take long to find out that we had no antihistamine in the house, and I said to my wife…I”m going to the local emergency at the hospital which is about 7 minutes away to get a antihistamine and check me out… and before she knew it, I was out the door in a flash. I can admit that I may have pushed past the speed limit a little… but its only a little admission. And I parked in the closest spot to the emergency ward and went into the hospital. There was a couple of people in front of me, and I patiently waited for them, praying about them being hurried up and wanting to push in front of them..
By the time I got to the window to explain myself…my tongue had started to swell up and because of my mumbling, the admin woman thought I was drunk or on drugs and couldn’t understand me. I pushed my wallet with id in it to her and said I need urgent help and next thing I know I have collapsed on the floor unable to move. While the emergency staff gathered around me and got me into a wheel chair and to a bed, I could hear them ask each other if they thought it was alcohol or drugs causing it – and the admin woman rushing in saying I looked him up, he has been recovering from viral encephalitis, and has had a history of anaphylaxis 12 years ago and there is no known drug abuse.
This seemed to goad them into a different kind of action and next thing they have hit me with an injection of adrenaline, whacked a drip in me, and started asking a whole heap of questions that I was simply unable to answer at that time. My pulse dropped to 45 bits a minute and my blood pressure at one stage was 90/40. With that kind of blood flow, was it any wonder I collapsed.
But then, the party games begun. A residual problem of the viral encephalitis is that my muscles don’t always fully relax after contracting. And therefore they can become like a spring that is constantly compressed and suddenly springs into action. In my case, my body will just shake. More often then not, its my right arm that shakes. It just sort of flops up and down. Sometimes in bed of a night, my arm and leg will just shake and flop and then settle down. However, because of the adrenaline shot, which was like putting my body into after burn… what goes up, must come down, and in the coming down, my whole body just froze up. I was totally unable to move. They would move my arms and my legs and my head, and I ended up frozen, sitting 1/2 way from the bed. But, then my whole body started to shake…and I flopped about on the bed like anything as the muscles underwent a massive release.
This put them all into another spin. A Cat scan was organised with an X Ray and all was found to be ok. Some hours later, I was able to explain what was going on to the hospital doctor and staff, to their immense relief. A few hours after arriving, I was able to contact my now very worried wife, who through the lift with her mum, was able to come to the hospital around 5am in morning. By 7:3am, while totally washed out, I was able to leave and come home. Armed with a prescription for some prednisone and antihistamine.
Over the next week, I want to unpack some things from this experience. Do we treat people differently because of our presumptions. What was it like being in the emergency ward, listing to all the goings on around me.
There is one thing for sure about my life, its never boring.