In late September, I had a business trip to Bentonville, AR to meet with my largest donut customer. I flew in the day before like I typically would do when traveling to see customers. It takes as much time to fly to Bentonville, AR as it does to fly across country to California from Florida. Once I arrived, I unpacked my samples that were sent over night for my meeting. About 6:00 PM, I decided to run out for a bite to eat. Later when I returned from dinner, I called my fiancé to tell her I was tired and I wanted to turn in for the night. I was particularly tired this day, but I chalked it up to traveling all day from Saint Petersburg, FL to Dallas with a 2 hour layover, and then on to Bentonville. I started out at 8:00 AM and finally arrived about 4:45 PM, which was the norm. After the conversation I had with my fiancé, I proceeded to lay down across the bed in hope that I would fall asleep soon. I had a big appointment the next morning at 10:00 AM sharp at Corporate Office. All of a sudden, I could not catch my breath when I tried to lay back on the pillow.. I began having a very fast heartbeat. I was sweating somewhat profusely across the top of my forehead and the back of my neck. I did not have any chest pains, but it was very difficult to catch my breath. The more I tried to lay back, the worse it got. I decided to call my fiancé back that night. I knew she could sense the fear in my voice. I also called my Aunt and Uncle. I began to get scared. It felt as if my heart was trying to beat out of my chest. I always carried fluid pills with me in case I had any swelling, which was something I had in the past. I got up, took a fluid pill and within 45 minutes, it began to work, Needless to say, I was up and down for almost 3 hours relieving myself of this unwanted fluid that evidentially had backed up in my system. I spent the next several hours back and forth on the phone with my fiancé. I know she was extremely concerned with what was going on with me. I was over 1200 miles away and now this was going on in my life. I was so proud that I was losing weight. I told her that once I returned back to Saint Petersburg, I was going to schedule an appointment with my family doctor to discuss this episode. I told her if it continued to get worse during the night I would take myself to the nearest hospital. Well, it did get much worse for me. I decided to call 911 and had the paramedics come to the hotel and check me out. I asked them to not come with sirens blazing, but come to the rear of the building and I would let them in the hotel. Well, that didn’t happen. Before you know it, I had 2 ambulances and a firetruck at the hotel. Now not only was I scared, but I felt like I had drawn an incredible amount of attention to myself. Once they arrived, they began to check my pulse and pressure. My pulse was up somewhat, but my pressure had dropped due to the amount of fluid I had just relieved from my body. They told me I was having an anxiety attack and this was the reason my heart was racing. Down deep this did not make sense to me, but oh well, I was not the medical professional. In all the years of my travels, I never became excited or had any kind of anxiety. They asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital, but after about an hour of them questioning me and doing paperwork, it was now about 3:00 AM the next morning. As soon as they left, I propped up the pillows and was able to get about 4 hours of sleep. I could not wait to have my appointment and get back on a plane and head for home. I know by now my fiancé was absolutely in a panic as to what was wrong. I never told her about the ambulance and the firetruck coming to the hotel that night. I knew she was worried enough about me, she didn’t need to hear this news as well.
After my appointment that morning, I left for the airport. I returned the rental car and proceeded to check in at the airport and walk to the gate. I noticed if I walked at certain pace, I began to get winded. I know I had the episode with my heart racing, but this was a bit different. I was winded from just walking. If I slowed down some, it went away. So I decided I was going to just stroll to the gate. Once we boarded and headed back to Dallas, I made sure when I got off the plane to go to my next gate, I was going to take it much slower. I was in no hurry anyway. I had a 3 hour layover in Dallas before I boarded my next flight to Saint Petersburg, FL. I was in touch with my fiancé several times during the afternoon. I told her I was due to arrive in Saint Petersburg about 8:00 PM and I would retrieve my luggage and be home as soon as possible. Once the plane final landed in Saint Petersburg, I began to walk up the jetway, which happened to be somewhat on an incline from the plane to gate area. As I was beginning my walk, I became extremely winded again. I had to stop and catch my breath. I was getting that same racing feeling in my chest that I had experienced the night before. Once I caught my breath again, I proceeded to continue my walk to catch the tram which would take me to baggage claim. In the back of my mind, I knew something was wrong with me, but I didn’t really know what. As soon as I got my luggage, I proceeded to my car and headed home. While I was driving home, I put the air conditioner in the car on high. I had began to have those crazy sweats across my forehead and down my neck, but once the air cooled me down, they went away. Once I got home that evening, I had a flight of stairs to walk up before I entered our apartment. Once again, I was extremely out of breath. I attributed this to me being overweight, but I shrugged it off. I always had to catch my breath while climbing stairs, but this time, it felt different. Not only was I out of breath, but I was also a bit dizzy. I was so glad to see my fiancé when I got home that I never told her about all the excitement with the ambulance and firetruck the night before. As I did in the past, I let this run down my back like a duck lets water run off during a rainstorm. Over the next few months, we began to discuss marriage.
Will to Live – Fear, Love, & Pride – Part 79