Thursday, November 7, 2013
It's crazy how technology allows us to stay in touch nowadays.
Thanks to social media, we are able to contact just about anyone. Of course, this can be both good and bad, but for the most part it's a positive.
For example, I have a friend from high school that I only keep in touch with through Facebook. Right after graduation, he had an opportunity to go to culinary school in Italy. I never thought of him as much of a cook, but apparently when he wasn't on the football field he was at home learning all of the fine details of spices and herbs.
So I would occasionally touch base with him from time to time, just keeping up with all of the things that are going on. It was always fun to hear his experiences over there, see the photos of the Italian countryside and hear about the things he was learning.
Shortly after finishing his stint there, he got a job to work as a chef in New York City. This also blew my mind, because as the song goes, if you can make it in New York you can make it anywhere. So I figured he had to be quite good at his job to have that kind of opportunity.
Everything seemed to be going well until early last month when he was hospitalized abruptly with chest pains.
Normally, I don't think much of hospital visits and things of the like. If I got worried every time someone I knew or cared about went to the doctor, I would lead a sad, stressful life. That was until I saw two words that I never would have imagined.
There was the potential that he could need a transplant quickly and suddenly. I didn't know what to think, because the concept seemed so foreign to me. How could someone who lived the near-perfect life – active lifestyle, was crazed about what he was putting in his body, never did anything to jeopardize his health – need a heart transplant? I know, I know, there's science behind it, there's genetics and all sorts of other things I'll never understand. I've never been good at science and understanding that stuff anyway (that's why I got in the newspaper business). Still, though, at the age of 26 he would need for someone else to die so he could live?
I thought and reflected on the idea for countless hours. Just the concept in and of itself was tough to wrap my brain around. The morality of what could happen, and the trade off of life for death, really got to me. Yet here I was, states away, not even going through this, so I could only imagine what he was going through or what his family was experiencing as they flew from South Carolina to be by his side in New York.
The outpouring of support that he received was phenomenal and really made me swell with pride. Keep in mind I haven't seen him in person since high school – we went out to Hooters after graduation (don't ask) – so I know there were plenty of others like me who could only sit back and watch. It was powerful, though, to see all of the chatter between friends and family on his page and to him. Many of whom, like myself, have only been able to keep up with his life through words and photos.
After two weeks, which almost felt like two years, there still wasn't a real answer as to what was going on. I'll admit, I found some morbid amusement over his witty one-liners about terrible hospital food and having to deal with so many needles. On the 15th day, there was finally an answer.
Myocarditis. It's a virus that, when it is more serious, can lead to heart failure. It also has other symptoms which include inflammation or scarring of the electrical system of the heart.
That said, knowing is half the battle, at least in my eyes. Health problems are scary no matter how major or minor they are – and one's mind can play tricks on them if they are unsure of just what is going on with their body. Luckily for my friend, it is something that was caught early and can be managed. Should the time come that he may need a transplant, they will be able to and are aware of it. But, for now it's not something that is imminent.
So, for now, instead of talking about Italy or the big city, he's back home and resting, surrounded by the family members who stuck around in the Big Apple. Maybe I can hear the stories in person that I only saw in pictures and Facebook messages or posts.