Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Trial by Fire--Chris Michael Nimphius: Part 1

Nearly two years ago I was on spring break having the time of my life, partying quite hard as most college young adults do. I remember very vividly when my first symptoms started to manifest. It was the last night of our stay and we had just started out on our adventure towards debauchery.

We finally made it to the club, which was huge and could fit more than ten thousand people. One of my buddies was lagging behind. I told the rest of the people to go ahead and I would catch up with them while I waited for my friend. After some time I was informed that he wouldn’t be joining us, so I went ahead with my plans. I attempted to find the group that had gone ahead without me. 

While frantically looking for my friends, I suddenly became extremely lightheaded, light/noise sensitive, and I thought I was going to collapse at any moment. I was now even more panic-stricken and needed to find my friends. I tried to elicit all the energy left in my mind and body. Finally I located one of my friends and implored him to leave with me. This way if I was going to faint in this strange environment, at least I wouldn’t be alone.

We left the club and decided it was best to stop at a cafe for water. Maybe I was just extremely dehydrated. Much to my dismay this didn’t help. We finally made it back to the hotel, which seemed like an eternity. At least this was a refuge from the all impurities outside. I tried to sleep before we had to catch a flight back home in the morning, but I had no luck. Then the notorious preamble to Lyme started. Suddenly I had flu-like symptoms. I was freezing, yet sweating profusely at the same time.

Morning came and I stumbled my cinderblock legs through the airport while trying to maintain mental vigor and not fall. I finally made it back to my college and went right to the doctors. They tested me and found nothing serious. They gave me some antibiotics and sent me on my way.

For the next week I had an arduous bout with insomnia and felt as though I was emitting a gallon of sweat each night. My sheets were completely drenched. I managed to muster enough energy to get to class, but was in cloud nine and totally disconnected. A week went by and the night sweats started to subside but I still couldn’t sleep. I was extremely fatigued. I reiterated to my mother what I had been experiencing. She talked to a doctor who insisted that I go for walks in order to get vital energy from the sun. After a few weeks this started to work and the lightheaded sensations, sleep deprivation, and fatigue began to diminish. I finally thought I had weathered the storm--whatever it had been.

I spoke too soon. I was fine for 3 months, never feeling any residual effects from that incident. I had taken a job down in Maryland where I was over-worked--working six or seven days a week with a minimum of 75 hours a week. It was rigorous, and my body started to send indications that I was geting worn down. I didn’t want to listen at first--bull headed as I am--and I tried to get acclimated to this lifestyle the best I could. After a while I realized I just couldn’t endure anymore. I quit and tried to live a mundane life for the next two weeks. I decided to move back to NY, closer to my family. The last night before I returned home to NY I became lightheaded and my bed was drenched in sweat. I thought, Great, here we go again!

I finally made it home and didn’t have any more night sweats, but I was beyond lightheaded on a daily basis now. I didn’t know what the hell was going on. I simply tried to ignore the signs and thought it was sinus pressure or something. This went on for about a month, and the worst part was that I had just started a really promising job. It was a chef at a distinguished catering company. From there I took a turn for the worse. On Halloween 2008 I was working over one of the big tilt skillets at work, when I suddenly lost my legs and had to sit down for a minute. I managed to regain composure and make it to the bathroom, trying to be inconspicuous the whole time. I had too much pride to let anyone know what has going on.

I tried putting water on my face, taking deep breaths and drinking lots of water. I managed to convince myself that I would get through this. I continued doing my job while leaning my body up against a table or other object in order to keep stable. Somehow by the grace of God I made it through the day without suspicion from anyone. I drove home that night and almost went right off the road. The light from oncoming traffic was agonizing and I couldn’t stay in my lane. The sensible thing to do was pull over and call someone to get me, but I was compelled to get home as soon as possible.

I finally made it and hugged my mom harder than ever before. I told her what had just transpired, and then proceeded to break down in tears. My courage was reduced to pieces. I had no clue what was going on. Things couldn’t get any worse. I felt all the symptoms daily now, coupled with massive head pressure and migraines. People became aware that things were not right. I became sluggish, and normal tasks looked problematic. Luckily the catering season was about to come to an end for a yearly two-month winter hiatus. I managed to escape the season relatively unharmed other than a thumb cut. My insurance finally had kicked in and now I could devote the proper time to finding a diagnosis while on break, or so I thought!

A month into the break my symptoms became more severe and I could barely walk. I went through the process of seeing doctor after doctor and specialist after specialist. Each had words of wisdom and a different take on the matter. I convinced one of them to treat me for Lyme even though my test had come back negative. I took the three weeks of doxy and it did nothing but make things worse. I even tried acupuncture to see if any of this was stress-induced. Big no no for us with Lyme! Our veins are highly sensitive to having a myriad of needles stuck in us.

Last January on my 23rd birthday I checked into the hospital, as suggested by my neurologist, to have a battery of tests run...

Part 2 on Friday.

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