The circumstances surrounding the death of soccer journalist Grant Wahl indeed look awfully suspicious.
And I don’t want to dismiss the many reasons for suspicion, given the run-in with World Cup authorities that he’d had last week over an LGBTQ+ T-shirt, and the threats that he’d received over his reporting on the deaths of thousands of workers in Qatar, the host country, in the years leading up to the event.
But something that I experienced last year might match up to what Wahl seemed to be going through medically the past couple of weeks.
Wahl had shared online and on podcasts about feeling run down in recent days, and being diagnosed earlier this week with a probable case of bronchitis.
Early last year, I went through four weeks of feeling unusually run down – I say unusually, because I’m a distance running and cyclist, fighting fit and trim, but there were times that I’d lose my breath going up stairs.
I wrote it off at first as a cold, then as it persisted, a lingering cold, then as it still lingered, bronchitis, but as the days stretched into weeks, I finally listened to my wife’s prodding and went to my PCP.
I was scheduled that day, ironically, for the purposes of writing this story, to be the play-by-play guy on a ESPN+ college soccer broadcast that afternoon.
I figured the doc would give me a prescription, and I’d be on my way to the game.
Instead, I was put in the back of an ambulance.
The doctor, after giving me an EKG, thought I was having a heart attack.
Turns out it was blood clots in my lungs.
I’d actually come to that being a possibility the night before, remembering that my father, who died in 2008 at the age of 54, had died of blood clots, then researching what blood clots in the lungs can do to a person.
My dad had been, like me, fit and trim for his age, his death coming very much out of the blue.
I was lucky; after an overnight stay, I was released from the hospital, no worse for the wear.
I share this because there are elements to the Grant Wahl story that match up somewhat with mine.
I was 49 when this happened to me last year; Wahl was 48.
From the photos I’ve seen of him, he looked to be as fit and trim as I was last year.
He talked of unusual fatigue, but wrote it off as working too hard; as a fellow journalist, people who read my multiple bylines each day think I work too hard, and are surprised that I’m not eternally exhausted.
He was told by medical professionals that he only had bronchitis; I wonder if I’d gone to the doctor sooner if what was happening to me might have been similarly written off as something not more serious.
I don’t share this to cast doubt on the more sinister things that could have happened to Grant Wahl.
I still don’t know exactly what it was that made me end up in the hospital with blood clots.
Yes, my father died from blood clots that reached his lungs, but the testing that was done on me afterward didn’t find a genetic link for me.
I was just a very healthy guy who somehow ended up with blood clots in my lungs, and we may never know why.
I’m writing this, I guess, in hopes that people who might have similar symptoms as I did take it more seriously than I did.
I’m lucky I’m still here to be able to tell my story.