Something Was Terribly Wrong:: My Pheochromocytoma Survival Story

I'm sure you've noticed that I disappeared a month ago. This story will explain why. I had been sick, but no one knew just how sick. It's a story of life-and-death, of God's miraculous love and care, of thankfulness, and of the miracles that happen in our ordinary lives. I won't lie- this story has some pretty scary moments. But in the end God gets all the glory. 




When I woke that Saturday morning, I thought it was a regular Saturday. Little did I know that it wasn't a regular day; it was a day that would change my life forever.

When I woke, the only thing on my mind was Colleen and whether she was still feeling sick or not. On Thursday she had all four of her wisdom teeth cut out, then on Friday night the poor girl started feeling ill, which promptly turned into throwing up. I felt just awful for her. Zarah and I had been feeling sick since Thursday morning, but we just felt feverish with lots of head congestion – nothing like throwing up after oral surgery.

Colleen woke up before anyone else, so I got up to fix her breakfast. She said she only felt like having some warm Jell-o, so I went into the kitchen to start mixing it for her. That's when it started…

I began to feel a pressure on the right side of my torso- from below my breast all the way down to my waist. It was sort of like when I get lots of congestion in my lungs due to my springtime asthma flare up (triggered by allergies). It was strange. I almost couldn't finish making her Jell-o because my right side became so painful.

I decided to get into a shower, thinking that the warm water may help loosen the congestion. However, it quickly became apparent that the shower wasn't helping. The tightness in my chest was getting even more unbearable. I yelled for Zarah (who was awake by now) to wake Hubby and have him get the nebulizer ready for me because I needed it NOW. 

The only problem was that the nebulizer didn't seem to help.

I was beginning to wonder if I was having a heart attack, but that didn't make sense either. The tightness was only on my right side, nothing even in the center of my chest. 

It wasn't too long until the mystery was solved. I started throwing up.

Apparently, I had the same virus that Colleen had. After throwing up a few times, the pressure and tightness subsided. But a strange, new pain came upon me. I now had a sharp pain at my waist on the right side. It hurt in the front, but the back hurt worse. In fact, when I tried to take a deep breath to cough, I had a horrible stabbing pain in the back at my waistline. Even though the pain was stabbing at times, it was also a dull, persistent pain that lingered.

Once the throwing up stopped, this pain kept me from being comfortable anywhere. There was only one position that I felt "okay" in – sitting on a low step stool that put my knees above my waist, and leaning forward with my elbows on my knees.

I don't know how long I wandered back and forth from the bathroom step stool to the living room couch before I finally asked someone to bring the step stool into the living room for me, where I ended up leaning over the couch. I had so many thoughts running through my head – am I having a heart attack, is it my appendix – my mind wouldn't stop the wondering, but I couldn't sort out what I should do. 

I told Hubby that I may need him to take me to the Emergency Room. He reminded me that there wasn't much they could do for the flu and that they would likely just hydrate me with IV fluids. He got out the Higley Essential Oils Reference Guide and looked up which oils may help all my symptoms. I don't remember what oils he put on me, but they didn't seem to do anything for the pain around my waist. 

Hours passed.


At some point, I began breathing really shallow and quick. I used the nebulizer again. It didn't help.

I asked about the ER again. I just knew I needed something but didn't know what I needed. I felt scared, but couldn't verbalize much. I just knew that something was terribly wrong.

Finally, I asked Hubby to call the doctor's office and ask the doctor on call what we should do. Hubby, who had spent all this time sitting near me and ignoring his own needs, called the doctor's office. After describing the events of the morning and all of my symptoms, the doctor advised Hubby to take me to the ER. He was especially worried about my shortness of breath and fast respiration rate. We found it odd that the doctor ended the call with "Good luck." 

Immediately, it seemed that everyone around me was set into motion.

Everyone had a job to do to get Momma out the door to the ER.

I had been wearing awful shorts that I paint and work in and an old t-shirt because I was so hot. I decided to put on a cotton, short sleeve shirt and a pair of yoga pants. It was cold out but not horrible winter weather sort of cold, so I figured it would be a good balance for me. Hubby had to help me change my clothes because the pain on my right side was bad enough that I couldn't really stand up straight… and moving at all was awful. As soon as he got me changed, he went off to do something else. It seemed the minute he was gone, I was roasting! I ripped those yoga pants right back off and waited for him to help me get my shorts back on. I didn't care how awful they would look.

Hubby pulled the van up to the very end of the sidewalk so that I wouldn't have far to walk. Then he came back inside to help me to the front door and down the walk. I only made it halfway to the door before I was calling out for a step stool to sit on. I felt like I was going to pass out! 

Hubby changed the plan. While I sat, he pulled the van up as close as he could get to the porch. Then he helped me get out the front door and down the front steps, then into the van. Once I was in and settled, we were off the the Emergency Room. 

I felt relief and anxiety all at the same time. I haven't had good experiences with our ER in the past, so I prayed that God would provide just the right doctor for me – one who would listen well and have wisdom to find what was wrong with me.

I knew I could trust Him with the rest.



Next chapter: It's a Tumor

The next chapter of My Pheochromocytoma Survival Story should be up in the next day or two. Come back to find out what God does… It truly is incredible! (or subscribe so that it comes straight to your inbox.)

You can find all the chapters here:

My Pheochromocytoma Survival Story

One thought on “Something Was Terribly Wrong:: My Pheochromocytoma Survival Story

  1. I had no idea what preceded the events to come. Who knew that one day after we got together for some “just the parents” fun that you would soon be so sick? To think, we almost passed on that opportunity to meet up. It was almost like God knew you needed some fun before your hospital odyssey. Yet I wonder if that isn’t what made it worse. Oh, but I am so glad that you are on the road to recovery! Hugs, my friend.

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