Last Thursday, I paid a visit to a cardiologist because I have had increasing trouble breathing. My doctor and I thought it was my heart. I was literally exhausted and gasping for breath just by rubbing shampoo in my hair. Putting the kids to bed required me getting a 10 minute head start so I could stop panting from climbing the stairs. On television and radio, I was creatively taking dramatic pauses and learning to inhale while talking because otherwise I could not breathe.
I knew something was wrong. At first I just had a harder time than usual catching my breath after exercise. I figured it was allergies. I would sit down to eat and get sleepy. I thought maybe it was my blood sugar. I would get on radio and talk about the election and get worn out. I decided it was stress from campaign season. I decided it was all in my head. I decided a lot of things and all those things very nearly killed me.
For some time, and these symptoms started almost two months ago gradually getting worse over time, my lungs had been filling up with blood clots. The doctors think it was related to the 100,000 miles of flying I have done in the past year, some of which involved me being sick and dehydrated on the plane.
Last Thursday, my wife got me into a cardiologist’s office a day sooner than I intended to go. My heart was fine. My blood sugar was perfect. But I had pulmonary hypertension. My blood pressure in my lungs was three times higher than it should be. The doctor sent me over to Coliseum Medical Center for a CT scan.
I remember getting up on the gurney to get an IV. I was huffing and puffing just walking down the hall and getting on the table. When it was over I heard the technician call out to someone in another room, “Should I even take his IV out?” The technicians are not supposed to tell you what they saw. That is for the radiologists and your own doctor. But I chuckled and said something along the lines of, “That bad?” There was silence at first.
“You need to call your wife and tell her you aren’t going anywhere,” he said. “You’re really lucky to be alive.” A doctor followed up by telling me I should be dead. Within an hour of the scan I was in the CV-ICU at Coliseum being hooked up to an IV preparing for a round of tissue plasminogen activator, which is what stroke victims receive. The nurse (Coliseum has awesome nurses, by the way) told me my lungs lit up like Christmas trees there were so many clots.
From Thursday until Sunday I was in ICU and then in a private room till Monday. Now I’m home and have a long recovery period ahead of me. If I can take away one lesson, it is simple — if you think there is something wrong, don’t put off going to the doctor. A second would be to listen to your wife and go to the doctor. I am lucky to be alive and I cannot thank you all enough for your prayers this past week.
My seven year old asked me yesterday if I would come to his first grade class to read a book. “I want you to come show off your bruises really,” he replied. I have a blood thinner caused bruise from my arm pit to my thumb. I’ll take it. I’m just happy to be here.
Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.