Welcome to Mysteries over Martinis! This blog is a mix of unexplained phenomena and personal encounters served up with a mystery-themed cocktail. It’s a recipe for intrigue!
3 parts Red Bull
1 part cherry vodka
Pour liquids into a highball, stir and garnish with a cherry.
With a New Year Comes a New Beginning
January marks a significant anniversary for me. One that led me on this strange quest for exploring the unexplained and eventually the creation of “Mysteries over Martinis.” It is what really started it all. I thought I’d share this with you to give you an understanding of my journey and the miracle that began it all.
With the arrival of 2006, I was feeling overwhelmingly optimistic about the year to come. It had been off to a great start until I woke up with a dry, scratchy throat. “Oh geez, here we go!” I thought to myself. I was infamous for getting sick in January. I even spent the millennium curled up in bed suffering from bronchitis. It seemed unavoidable that I would kick off the year with a cold or some other respiratory ailment. As the day progressed, my scratchy throat had slowly shifted into a fiery irritation. I was also beginning to experience a dry cough. I figured I’d better brace myself for the phlegm storm that was about to ensue, so I stopped by the store after work to buy cold medicine and orange juice.
Later in the evening, my nose began to run and my ears started to itch. The burning sensation in my throat made it unbearable to swallow. I decided that going to bed early was probably in my best interest. My sleep was very restless that night. Coughing fits as well as nasal dripping interrupted my slumber. Later in the night, I woke up a couple times in a panic. I kept having a dreams about file folders. I couldn’t get away from them. File folders were an item I used in my daily work routine. However, it was apparent to me I was now suffering from a fever. For some odd reason, I always experience reoccurring dreams when I have a fever.
Due to my overnight suffering and the fear that I was most likely contagious, I called into work the next day. With the weekend upon me, I made a call to my doctor. If my illness was bacterial, I wanted to start antibiotics sooner rather than later. I was seen that day and upon my examination, my doctor believed I had a virus and would have to let it run its course.
Over the weekend, “flu-like” symptoms began to set in. I had a pounding headache, aching muscles and unbelievable fatigue. I followed the advice of getting plenty of rest and drinking lots of hot tea and orange juice. I figured having the weekend to rest would be to my benefit and by Monday I’d be back in the office as usual. However, by Saturday night I started to develop a slight pain in the center of my torso. It felt like a small knife piercing the area that lied between my stomach and chest.
I slept in short bursts that night. My fever was causing me to experience chills one moment then hot flashes the next. My muscles were still aching, so finding a comfortable position was nearly impossible. I was still experiencing the sharp pain, in fact, it seemed to be worse. As the day progressed, so did the pain. I couldn’t imagine what was causing it.
By Sunday, the pain had become unbearable and I felt like hell. I was having difficulty sleeping. All I wanted to do is feel better, so I anxiously awaited to call the doctor’s office the following morning. As the clock struck 8:00am, my fingers began to dial his office. My doctor thought I was constipated from all the cold medicine I’d been taking so he prescribed a regimen to clean out my system. I followed his instructions that afternoon but it only intensified the pain.
I called him again the next day to tell him that the pain was now worse. He had me go to the hospital to get a chest X-ray. He suspected I may have pneumonia. He called the following day to tell me everything appeared normal, though. I told him that the pain was now debilitating. I could barely get out of the recliner I’d been living in the last few days. He told me to come to his office immediately so a urine test, blood test and EKG could be performed. When the results came back, I was told my white blood cell count was elevated. He told me to go directly to Mercy hospital for a CAT Scan/MRI. This included my first and only enema… they were very thorough. The test results indicated that I had pancreatitis and I needed to be admitted as a patient. My doctor assigned me to the floor my mom worked on as a nursing tech. It was nice to know she would be nearby.
Once I was established in a room, a specialist came to see me. Labs were ordered amongst various other tests. The results did not synch up to the diagnosis of pancreatitis. He was baffled. Then, another doctor came to see me. He believed there was an issue with my gall bladder. Again, the diagnosis was ruled out. They discussed removing my gall bladder anyway but I told them that I’d prefer they only take body parts if they were absolutely sure it was necessary. No one could seem to figure out what was wrong. I began to get sicker and more tests were ordered. I was taken to nuclear medicine for an exam. I was laying still inside a machine as it scanned my body. There was a moment where it felt as if my consciousness had separated from my physical body. I was having thoughts but they seemed to be coming from a space above and to the right of my body. During this brief period, I experienced no physical sensations. It sounds weird, but it’s the best way I can describe it.
By this time, I had been run through the ringer. I had endured some awful tests such as having two long cotton swabs jabbed up my nasal cavity, a hollow needle being injected into my wrist to sample my blood gas, a long needle injected into my abdomen and I’d had numerous IVs put in place. I had not eaten any food for days so my tongue and lips were extremely dry and white. I was the most miserable I’d ever been. However, I continually focused on getting healthy.
I didn’t think things could get any worse, but the next day was by far the worst day of my life. My condition began to deteriorate. I was going through more grueling tests. Every orifice of my body had been violated and there were even some added. I had reached a point where I had to be moved to Intensive Care. Once there, I was put into isolation. During this time, the avian flu was making headlines so the staff was taking every precaution. I never felt scared, I was just annoyed that no one could tell me what was wrong. I was only in the ICU for a few hours before an ambulance was sent over to transfer me to the Medical Intensive Care Unit at the University Hospital. The doctors believed I needed care beyond what they could give me at Mercy.
The next 4 hours would be the most painful torture I’d ever endured. My vitals had reached horribly low numbers and my resting heart rate was incredibly high. I was being stuck by needles left and right. When the medical team couldn’t get any blood drawn, they tried going into my feet. When that didn’t work, they used pediatric needles. I felt like a medical pincushion. Next, they explained that I would need to have a catheter placed in the artery in my wrist. This way, they could easily obtain blood samples as well as monitor my blood pressure and blood gas more efficiently. They began taping my arm to a table so that the tube could be inserted into the artery then sewn in. I was horrified but just kept telling myself it would be over soon. Just as you might think, it was very unpleasant.
Once the catheter was in place, I thought the worst was behind me. I was wrong. They laid me flat on the bed and said they’d need to do a similar procedure to my jugular. They were going to insert a PICC line which would be used for administering medications. I remember freaking out a bit but thinking, “Just do whatever you need to do to make me feel better.” At this point, my organs were beginning to shut down. Although, I was not aware of this until later. My eyes had turned yellow due to my liver failing. I was struggling to breathe because my lungs were filling with fluids. The doctors put a drape over my face to move forward with the implementation of the PICC line. This only heightened the sense of suffocation. I remained calm long enough for them to sew the tube into my neck but then I completely panicked. I began screaming and trying to sit up. I couldn’t breathe and the drape created a sense of claustrophobia. My heart was racing and the situation was making it worse.
Suddenly, everything went dark. As I became more alert, a golden white light filtered in and the darkness slowly faded away. I assumed the doctors had given me a mild sedative via the PICC line to calm me down. I was later told this was not the case. The warm, radiant light engulfed me. I was free of all my pain and worries. The brilliant glow of my surroundings created a sense of tranquility unlike any I’d ever experienced. Just as I was beginning to bask in the serene radiance, I was suddenly pulled back to the reality unfolding around me. As I opened my eyes, I saw chaos ensuing. The nurses and doctors were working frantically, grabbing instruments and communicating medical jargon to one another. My suffering had returned full force. I was again fighting to breath and tried to sit up. I hoped they’d soon return me to the blissful world from which my visit had been so rudely interrupted. It didn’t happen.
They began discussing the option of intubating me because I could no longer breathe on my own. “I whispered, “Are you sure that’s necessary?” The other doctor suggested they try something else. He wanted to try putting a mask over my face to help me breathe. I shook my head violently. I couldn’t stand the thought of having anything else being placed over my face. I kept telling myself to stay calm but it just wasn’t happening. The nurse chimed in and said it would take my breath away for a second and then it would make me feel better. I fought with them but ultimately, they won. Once the apparatus was in place, the cool oxygen gently stroked my sweaty forehead. It was a breath of fresh air, both literally and figuratively. I felt my body start to relax.
I was now somewhat stable and the medical team left the room. As I panned around the room I noticed an unusual shadow being cast onto the wall. I did a double take but the shadow was no longer there. I believed I had seen the profile of my deceased aunt Vivian. The thought that her spirit was with me through such a traumatic time brought a feeling of peace.
I was released from the hospital 8 days after I was admitted. This came as a shock considering I was originally told I would be there 1-2 months. I was put on a strict low sodium diet and prescribed medication for my heart. I was unable to work for 5 weeks, so I passed the time curled up in a recliner watching reruns of “Unsolved Mysteries.” I’d seen most the episodes when they originally aired, but now I could relate to some of the topics on an entirely different level.
I later told my Aunt Therese and mom the story about seeing Vivian. They are Vivian’s sisters. Therese then told me that she had a similar experience that same night. She knew that I had been moved to the MICU and was praying that everything would be okay. She then saw Vivian’s profile reflecting in a window. She said it was at that point she knew everything would be okay and she went to sleep. This story not only validated my experience but also solidified my belief in life after death.
It wasn’t until after I was released from the hospital that I was told that the doctors didn’t think I was going to make it that night. They had told my parents to prepare for the worst. My parents called my brother who lived out of state and told him he needed to come back. My cardiologist said, “You must have an amazing immune system because all we did was try to make you comfortable.” This information was difficult to process. I had no idea I was in critical condition. He said they would continue to search for an answer for my sudden illness.
Blood samples were sent to the CDC for analysis but all came back negative. With the elimination of all other possibilities, it was determined that I had Viral Myocarditis. It is marked by inflammation and damage of the heart muscle caused by some sort of viral infection. My heart had enlarged and that was the source of my severe pain. Myocarditis usually attacks otherwise healthy people and is a substantial cause of sudden death in young adults. It never crossed my mind that I might die. In retrospect, it was obvious I was fighting for my life but I think I was in a state of denial or perhaps I just had a strong will to live. Regardless, I’m one of very few who have survived such circumstances.
My heart had sustained significant damage and I was told I needed a heart transplant. I’m happy to say this never came to fruition. The doctors have no explanation for my rapid and complete recovery. In fact, when I go in for routine check-ups, there is no evidence that my heart was ever damaged. I have had no repercussions since my time in the hospital. Although this ordeal was horrific, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It opened my eyes and has given me a sense of purpose. I believe I was given a miraculous gift.
I hope you all have a blessed 2015. Cheers!
If you’ve had a mysterious encounter you’d like to share, please e-mail me and be sure to like the Mysteries over Martinis Facebook page. Weirdness is always welcome.