My voice, barely audible, asked Kim, “Help me. Why can’t I have medicine for this pain?” As more tears fell, she said that I was on morphine, and not a small dose. Extreme, never ending nerve pain changed my perspective. I loved my family. I wanted to grow old with my soul mate, but I desperately wanted this throbbing head to toe pain to stop, even if it meant dying. I was ready to be with the Lord and worship Him in glory. I really was.
I was in and out of consciousness for the next several days, not sure what side of the Jordan on which I would awake. I always woke to astonishing pain and my Kim by my side, cooling my legs with wet towels and tubs of ice water. My IV was removed, causing another terrible night without pain medicine. The IV was reinserted, but because I was dying, my veins were collapsing, taking three nurses and several tries to reinsert the IV needle.
Doctors just called me “The Mystery Man.” Viral meningitis or aseptic meningitis was the guess of a few doctors. Some doctors suspected temporal arteritis. The only way to test is for this is to cut out sections of arteries next to each ear. If it tests positive, it is 100% accurate. If it tests negative, well, I could still have it and it was missed. A young doctor was excited at the possibility of this being the diagnosis because I would have been the youngest person ever to be diagnosed with temporal arteritis. He was chomping at the bit to start writing a medical paper starring little ole me. It was a painful procedure and I had to be awake, listening to the scraping, knowing that he was digging into the sides of my head. Much to the young doctor’s dismay, the test returned negative, but I still have two souvenir scars next to my ears to remind me of that dreadful procedure.
Some doctors wanted to rule out infection of the tricuspid heart valve and endocarditis, so a transesophagal echocardiogram was ordered. You notice the word esophagus in that word? This little treatment meant that I had to swallow what looked like a garden hose with a little camera attached at the end. I was told that they would give me amnesia medicine so I wouldn’t remember the procedure. I actually do remember having that hose shoved down my throat and gagging over and over. Good times. That lovely procedure came back fine, so the mystery continued.
The doctors finally knew they had to do something. They agreed to inject high doses of steroids, knowing that if they were wrong, it would kill me, but I was dying in that hospital bed while no treatments were administered.