I Won’t Be Beat

phrenic nerve display

I’m staring down the barrel of a 45,
I’m swimming through the ashes of another life
There’s no real reason to accept the way things have changed
Staring down the barrel of a 45

— Shinedown, “45”

Putting It Where It Needs to Go

I’m not really sure where this is going to go, but I’ve got a lot of pent up pain, frustration, anger, fear, and I gotta get it out; but in a healthy way. Lashing out at my family last night was the wrong way. Insecurity about what my future holds has me angry. Made me jealous and spiteful that here I am, all jacked up, and everyone else in the house is just going about their business like nothing is wrong.

“What’s the matter with you guys, can’t you see I can’t breathe?!”

“Can’t YOU feel how awful I feel?”

“Aren’t you completely devastated that I may never be able to perform athletics, strenuous activities, nor outdoor events in the same ways that you are used to seeing me perform?”

And of course all of this is just pathetic and selfish self-loathing weakness that continues to creep up on me just as I think I am displaying the epitome of strength during recovery.

What I want to be vs. actually putting that into action daily is still a wide chasm.

From Sickness Comes Strength

If you know me, then you probably know Arthur: the single-cell, tissue-eating parasite that did it’s best to see that I would never return to Nicaragua by shredding my liver and putting me down for well over a month.

But, I’m a fighter and I vowed to fight back, and with the help of an awesome doctor, who is fast becoming a family friend, Arthur was put to rest, and a new, more conscious Christian Griffith was developing – crushing old habits, developing new ones, regaining a focus towards training and making a strong commitment towards learning more about faith, people, friendships, sacrifice, sharing, and growing.

Headstrong, and ready. Shaken and stirred, but settling in.

Breathing Matters

I hit the streets and the treadmill and martial arts with a unwavering focus for three weeks after leaving the hospital, building up from barely able to walk, to running, as of today, 3.0 miles at 10:58 pace.

Yea, I know, slooooow, but dammit, I was coming back.

Only one small problem – I can’t breathe.

I have no internal power. I can’t sniff nor take deep breaths. In conversations, I have to pause many times just to breathe, and after awhile this causes a lot of side-stitch-like pain in my sides, shoulders and around my heart.

I can’t even begin to tell you how running feels. Its kinda like I ate a whole bunch of thick chucks of broken up driveway cement, and then it just shakes around in my gut as I trot along, stinging different areas of the abdomen with random gut-shots that I never see coming, nor can plan for or avoid them.

I really, really want to come back athletically, but of course, it takes the ability to breathe to run fast(er).

Diaphragmatic Paralysis

During my hospital follow-up visit to doc Blass, just two days ago Wednesday, May 2, I explained that all seemed well. Aside from the 1950’s, nasty-ass antibiotic, I felt good.

No, I felt GREAT!

My color tone had come back, my weight was increasing, and I was happy to be re-introducing training-type activity back into my life; but, I just had this nagging issue of still not being able to breathe, something that I had struggled with since this all began, just for different reasons. Oddly coincidental, the first time I couldn’t breathe was due to inflammation around my lungs caused by the amoebic infection.

…but now, well, keep reading…

Doc shook his head, said that wasn’t normal nor expected, called a pulmonary specialist for a consult, and sent me across the street for some chest xrays and a fluoroscopy, a sort of radiology real-time video test of the internal structures in the body.

It didn’t take long – in fact, all I had to do was try a simple little sniff test and Bam! I’m being referred to has having diaphragmatic paralysis caused by phrenic nerve damage. The right half of my diaphragm simply did not do anything during breathing, while the left side, the good side, rose and fell as expected. It was pretty unnerving to watch in real-time.

a paralyzed diaphragm

Photo: when I breathe, I only get the power from half my diaphragm. The other half does nothing. It just sat there. The Phrenic nerve, responsible for firing off this breathing functionality is damaged, squeezed or severed.

So NOW What, Freak?

Man, I don’t know.

I am currently working on half a breathe. Half a VO2 max, I guess. Half power. Half strength. Sometimes, I feel like, Half’a man.

I’m just now coming out of the shock. What I thought was going to be a routine, pat-on-the-ass, “you look great, now go away” doctor visit, turned into a new challenge requiring a whole new set of fancy neurologists and pulmonary specialists, doing such fancy things as CT scans, brain and spine MRIs, and breathing tests; and of course all this directed under the supervision of my good buddy doc Blass.

Damn man.

Seriously. It just sucks.

I’m ready to get on with it already. And worse, what if this is permanent?

What if the nerves somehow were severed or damaged during the insertion of the drainage tube?

What if the only option is surgery?

I won’t do surgery. God, or whomever, gave me this body and these strengths (and weaknesses) and I intend to work with what I got. My goal is to continue to fight. Fight like a crazed freak.

I will get back, it’s just now going to be an even longer, harder fight with very little certainty today in what the end result(s) will look like.

So be it.

I’ll be the best that I can be. Anything less, and I’d truly rather be dead.

If you would, help me be strong – in whatever form that might take.

Pretty sure I can’t get through all this alone.