Through The Eyes of Chad

My journey living with HIV, Addiction, Loss and Hope

What the hell is wrong with me?


The past week and a half have been some of the hardest, scariest, and rewarding days I have experienced in a very long time.  Tomorrow, November 6th, is my mom’s first birthday since passing away.  It has been looming painfully in my background for some time, yet I didn’t even know it was affecting me.  

A few months ago, I made the decision that I wanted to go to Utah to celebrate my mothers life for her birthday. I had no idea that that decision would take me down a dark, scary, and confusing road.  

A week and a half ago, I started getting physically “sick” .  It started with feeling nausea, then came horrible headaches followed by chest pains.  I thought I was getting the flu.  I went home sick and took a day off to rest.  It didn’t help.  As I went into the weekend the pains in my chest intensified to shooting sharp pains down my left arm.  I thought at this point I may be having a heart attack. I just dismissed it as anxiety.  I rested a lot in bed over the weekend and i started to feel slightly better.  Monday Morning came(one week ago) and I started driving out of town for a work meeting and about an hour in to it the tightness and pain hit me again this time, I took anxiety medication and it did nothing.  

I made the decision it was time to listen to my body and go to the hospital. I drove to a hospital close to my house.  I ended up getting admitted to the cardiac unit.  A few things really stood out for me about having to be admitted to the hospital.  The first thing was Fernando.  When I needed him the most he never left my side. He always comes through and holds me up when I can’t do it myself.  The second thing that stood out to me was how horrible it is to be in a hospital and be restricted to what you can intake into your body, liquids, food etc.  When my mother was in the hospital she literally was begging me to give her liquids. She had pneumonia and wasn’t allowed to have them because it could make it worse.  I was in the hospital for a little over 24 hours in total and she was there for weeks.  I didn’t understand then how difficult it could be.  

In the end, my heart is healthy. I didn’t have a heart attack.  I got no real reason why I was experiencing all of these extreme symptoms, just told to follow up with my primary care doctor.  

The next day which is Wednesday I went to work.  I continued to feel lousy, with the same symptoms but not as extreme.  I went home that evening and started getting stuff ready to fly to Utah the next morning.  This is when it got really scary. I started feeling a dread.  I was taking a shower and I started feeling this numbness in my leg and I panicked. My mind went from 0 to 1000% in seconds. I thought I can’t go on this trip, what if something happens and I die and I am not around Fernando.  I got out of the shower and went to the room.  I was in a full breakdown at this point.  I hadn’t figured out I was having a panic attack yet.  Fernando tried to calm me down, but he couldn’t.  I was not making any sense or even being rationale.  

After that I called someone and this is when I lost it.  I started crying and freaking out. This person stated that that they thought I was having a panic attack.  Everything clicked in my mind at that point.  The preceding week my body had been trying to tell me that I wasn’t OK.  I ignored it.  So it got worse and physical. I ignored it and eventually went to the hospital. (the time I waited, had I actually had a heart attack could have killed me)

I still kept pushing on and it got worse. This time emotionally.  The dread I felt,I have only experienced one other time in my life.  That was the day before I checked myself in to rehab in California in 2009.  

I thought I was doing okay up until this point.  I thought I was dealing with my moms passing in a healthy way.  But the reality is and has been many times in my life the really difficult stuff I just turn off too and do not feel.  I wasn’t dealing with it, I was ignoring it and that may have been the best I could do at the time. Although, more than likely it was the easiest way for me to move forward.  

Last Wednesday night was terrifying, but once it all clicked and I accepted that I am not ready to go to Utah something amazing happened.  I reached out to my family and they were so loving and supportive.  I realized it is OK to not force yourself to do something you just aren’t ready for.  The most important thing you can do is to listen to your internal dialogue and above all else give yourself love and compassion.  These things are freeing.  

This is not how I intended to celebrate my moms birthday, but the one thing I am very sure of is that my mom would want me to take care of myself.  I love you mom. Thank you for showing me strength, courage, and most of all love.