The “little paradise” we call the pastor’s home was marked this week by some of the lifestyle changes due to my illness, as well as starting to transition back to my office at the First Baptist Church of Moss Bluff.
This week was a milestone of sorts in “Paradise” as I felt better than I have previously, so I was able to go back to the office several days. Since going to the doctor in Houston, we have confirmed that I have dysautonomia, or POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome). Unfortunately this is a chronic condition, with no “magic shot” or medication to “fix” it (although we know the Lord can do it whenever He wills!) so you just have to try to mitigate the symptoms. Some respond to this better than others. We will be meeting with doctors further to get some medications which may hopefully help – especially with regulating my heart rate when I stand – but there are also a number of little “lifestyle changes” which taken together, can make a difference.
Some of these “little changes” include drinking a LOT more water & Gatorade, and increasing my salt intake (Fritos here I come! :-) Also I am to take some medication to help me sleep, as sleep deprivation is one of the most deleterious effects of this illness, as well as medication for what the doctor told me have been migraine headaches.
One of the more “shocking” lifestyle changes has been eliminating hot baths. I LOVE soaking in a hot tub – the big garden tub in the master bathroom was one of the selling points of our house to me. Since we had moved here I had often been in the habit of taking more than one hot bath every day. On Sundays, I thought it was being helpful to take several hot baths to help me relax – it was not unusual for me to take one before and after each church service. This was actually one of the worst things I could have been doing, as most POTS patients respond poorly to heat. So my hot baths are out. I am not able to stand in the shower, either, as my heart rate gets too high while standing. So that leaves one alternative: cold baths. Yep. If you hear a hideous shriek coming from our house, don’t worry; no one is being murdered, and Cheryl isn’t having a fit. It is probably just the sound of me getting into the tub!
Talking to the Weed-Eater
One day last week, Cheryl was doing some yard work, unaware that Bro. Ray & Dalton Miller from church were coming over to recharge the battery in my car, which hadn’t been driven in 6 weeks. She was using our little rechargeable weed-eater, which carries just about enough charge to barely do either the front or the back yard. She had made her way around the front of the house, and was hoping it had enough charge to finish some edging along the driveway, and around the mailbox – but she could tell that it was already beginning to slow down; a sure sign it didn’t have much “juice” left. As she walked across the driveway, she began encouraging the weed-eater: “Come on now; you can make it …”. Unbeknownst to her, Ray & Dalton had already pulled all the way down in the driveway, and were standing just behind her when she passed by! Unaware of their presence, she continued her exhortations to the weed-eater: “Come on, I think you can make it to the mailbox!” When she had finished, and was walking back down the driveway, there the guys were, standing and looking at her, with big smiles on their faces.
Cheryl sheepishly said to them: “I … I guess you heard me when I came by the first time?”
Dalton responded: “Yes we did — but we hated to interrupt you!”
One of the most difficult symptoms of POTS is the sleep deprivation. The doctors said that I need to take something to help me sleep, as it is hard to make a recovery if you are not able to get any rest. They suggested Tylenol PM at first, but it did absolutely NOTHING for me – I just lay there awake for hours. So next up on the “lineup” was a different sleeping aid for last Friday night.
As Cheryl drove Michael & I to Wendy’s drive-thru to get something to eat, I was all excited about the possibility of getting some sleep that night, and I broke out in song (if you can imagine it, in my best crooning voice!) Some of you may remember this old commercial tune:
“Take Sominex tonight and sleep; safe and restful sleep … sleep … sleep …..” My voice softly and dramatically trailed away as my “commercial crooning” ended.
Then Cheryl said: “I hate to tell you, but it’s not “Sominex”, but “Unisom.”
Without missing a beat, I immediately began to sing, with the same tune: “Take Unisom tonight and sleep …”.
(But unfortunately it didn’t work either!)
Feeling somewhat better as a result of some of the changes last weekend, I was determined that if I felt well Monday, I was going to go back in to the office – at least for a little while. And so I did! I surprised my secretary Mona by walking in, and I unloaded my briefcase, and started work. I sorted through some papers, got up after a while and greeted some people and shared some hugs, answered some e-mails, and then spent some time working on a message that I hope to share soon. But after a few hours, I was beginning to drag, and so I packed my briefcase back up and headed back out. Mona looked up at the clock as I told her that I was leaving, and in what sounded to me an awful lot like a “baby talk” voice she probably uses with her grandchildren, said: “That’s good, you got a half day in!” She did all but pat me on the head and say “Good boy!” as I walked out. But I just grinned and waved “bye.” I’ll take a little “baby talk” – I was very grateful to be back!
When I got back to the office, I found this “Wanted” poster hung up over my office door. Someone had taken a picture I had posted on Facebook, “doctored” it, and blown it up into the image you see. Not the most flattering likeness I will admit — but still, it is very nice to know that you are “Wanted”!