Life is Precious

Two weeks ago I woke up to some alarming symptoms. Let me back up a bit by saying I have been super careful during this Covid-19 pandemic. Being immune compromised, I have made very few trips out of the house and have spent very little time around other people. When I woke up two Thursdays ago I was convinced I had it. I could barely breathe, I was coughing and I was running a fever.

So we proceeded to call around to see who was doing Covid-19 testing, made an appointment and headed to a local urgent care facility. After I was tested I was told it would take a couple of days for the results to come back but in the meantime I needed to go to the emergency room because at the very least, I had a severe case of pneumonia.

So off we went to the emergency room. They were very efficient. After checking my symptoms they immediately got me to an isolation room and immediately gave me a rapid Covid-19 test that they would have the results in 72 minutes. If you have heard horror stories about the Covid-19 test, they are accurate. They basically take a long swab and shove it into your brain and rub it around in your grey matter for about ten seconds. It’s about as unpleasant of a test as possible.

While I was waiting, the doctors and nurses frantically started working on me. Starting IVs; one in my right arm and one in my left thumb. Yes, my THUMB! I nearly came straight off the gurney and did a round house kick to the face of the nurse putting it in. They then measured my oxygen saturation and it was only 82% so they immediately got me on oxygen and then started drawing blood.

Now here is the scary part of having an O2 Sat of only 82%; the doctor came in and asked if I would give him permission to intubate me and did I have a medical power of attorney. As I think anyone would, I freaked out a title. Here I am, all alone making decisions I don’t want to be making.

The next time my nurse came into my room she didn’t have on all of the PPE that she had on previously which I took as a good sign. In fact it was; my test was negative for Covid-19; I just had severe pneumonia in both lungs and was being admitted for treatment.

Two days later after all of the blood cultures came back I was told that not only did I have staph pneumonia, the staph infection in my lungs had spread to my bloodstream. This brings with it a whole host of complications like endocarditis which damages the heart valves amongst other things. So now for more tests. The next test was called a TEE, a Trans Esophogeal Echo. Basically they shove an ultrasound down your throat to look at your heart to see if there is any damage. Luckily, this test showed my heart was actually in great shape; at least I’ve got that going for me.

Fast forward to day eight. I am climbing the walls and so ready to go home. I am breathing much better and they have weened me off of the oxygen. According to my infectious disease doctor I can go home on one condition. He wants to put in a picc line (kind of like a permanent IV line) and I have to be on IV antibiotics 24 hours a day for the next 39 days.

So now, thankfully, I am home recovering and being very thankful for every breath I take. Two weeks ago I didn’t know how many more I would take. I am so grateful for my wife, my kids and the rest of my family and the many friends who were praying for me over the last two weeks. It doesn’t take much to be grateful. Take a minute to be thankful for the life you have.

My Journey

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

Thanks for coming along on my journey.

My name is Mason Ellenberger and I want to share my story with you in the hopes that it may provide a source of healing and peace.

Seven years ago I was running half marathons and was in the best shape of my life; then the pain started. It started in my legs, then my feet and then my hands. I soon would find out that I had Rheumatoid Arthritis. Skip ahead to three years ago when a new journey began. I started to have severe neck pain after a fall. Three surgeries and two fusions later I found myself in constant pain. I then started having problems with my lower back. I have since had three surgeries and one fusion on my lower back.

If living in constant pain weren’t enough, I soon would realize I was going to have to give up my career and go on disability as I could no longer perform my duties on all of the pain meds. This was the most difficult decision I have ever had to make.

So two years in fighting for disability benefits I finally got a court date for my appeal. Several months earlier some family members started noticing I was having some symptoms and encouraged me to see a neurologist. After a couple months of visits and testing, I got my diagnosis; Early Onset Parkinson’s Disease. Are you kidding me? Like I didn’t have enough to deal with, I was just handed a diagnosis of a neurodegenerative disease with no cure that would slowly destroy my body and my mind. I was only 47 years old. The only good news that came out of all of this is I got approved for disability benefits.

So why am I starting this blog? I want to share what I have gone through and what I deal with on a daily basis and possibly provide some hope to others out there that are suffering.