I don't talk too terribly much about my personal stuff.
There was the post about my dealing with depression, and there's the occasional post about family and friends, but I don't talk too much about my stuff. It's not the point of the blog.
However, there are some things I ought to talk about, because there are people who deserve to know.
Back in July, I developed a cough.
It began with some old mildewy magazines that my mom had dropped off, thinking I'd want them, but given that the cough seemed to come directly from that I quickly bagged up the magazines and tossed them in the garage. End of the problem, right?
The thing was, the cough wouldn't go away.
At the same time, I noticed that I was getting more and more tired from walking and whatnot.Trips to the grocery store became more of a labor than before. I cursed that damn cough and wished that the dry thing would go away, or at least loosen up and let whatever junk I was convinced was in my lungs out so I could get on with life. Things finally came to a head when I found it difficult to walk more than 100 yards without stopping for a break. My wife had finally had enough and read me the riot act: you're going to the doctor.
So I set up an appointment with urgent care and a physical with my doctor.
I went to urgent care, described my symptoms, and the attending physician said I had likely had an asthmatic attack. To let the lungs heal, she said, she prescribed a steroid and an inhaler in case I needed it.
I took the steroid diligently, and it seemed to help, but my legs swelled up like a blimp. By the time I visited my doctor for the physical, I mentioned the swelling and that the steroid seemed to be working except for that. In the midst of all of the poking and prodding and blood tests, he decided to switch to a steroid inhaler to focus the medication.
A couple of days later I got a response about my bloodwork and other items: I was onset T2 diabetic; I had high cholesterol, and I had high blood pressure.
Get back to the office for a consultation, he said. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.
So I scheduled an appointment and waited.
However, my exhaustion had returned --if it had ever really been away-- and the inhaler steroid didn't seem to work much.
On the day of my appointment, I was so exhausted that I could barely walk inside the building without taking a break. And the doc noticed.
"I was going to talk about diabetes, but we should talk about the obvious: why are you out of breath?"
A chest x-ray revealed the culprit: a shadow over the bottom of my right lung, indicating a large amount of fluid buildup in the lung.
I was sent immediately to the emergency room of one of the local hospitals, with my doc calling ahead of time to let them know I was coming.
"Guess where we're going?" I told my wife when I got home from the doctor's office.
I then realized that I was not going to make the raid that night.
Quickly jotting a few notes on Discord and then for work, we then split for the hospital.
We arrived at the hospital* and I could barely check-in due to being out of breath. In what had to be the quickest I've ever seen an administration move, they got me processed and back into a room where I was inspected by a nurse and a doctor.
It was then that I was informed I had heart failure.
Heart failure? That's the stuff that my Grandmother dealt with; it was an old person's disease. But here I was, set up with IVs and being pumped up with diuretics to make me pee out the fluid buildup in my lung and legs. There was even talk of the docs cutting a hole in my back so they could pass a tube through it and drain the fluid from the lung that way, but they decided to take a wait and see approach.
|This was my life this|
I was kept overnight while I kept filling liter bottles, and sometime overnight I was transferred to the cardiac unit. An echo cardiogram was scheduled --the equivalent of an ultrasound for the heart-- and it was only some hours later that the results were shared with me as I was being wheeled up to my "new" room in the cardiac floor: my heart was pumping blood at roughly half the volume it should be. Because of that, I was to undergo a procedure to determine where the problem lay with my heart: the docs would examine my arteries for blockages, and based on that determine if I needed a stent, bypass surgery, or something else. The procedure would be the next day, and I'd have to fast after midnight to get ready.
I hate fasting.
Especially when my mouth is dry and I want desperately to drink some water.
But I figured that I could handle it if the fast is from Midnight to morning.
I was told in the morning that my procedure was scheduled for 4 PM, so the nurse snuck me a half a cup of water along with my pills for the morning. Additionally, since I had about 8+ hours of waiting around, I might as well get some more diuretics in me to get the fluid out of me.
(You can see what's coming, can't you?)
A few minutes after I took the diuretics and I while I was talking with the nurse, there was a knock at the door. "We're here to take you to your procedure!" the cheerful looking attendant said as she stepped inside.
"Uh...." I said.
"Well...." the nurse added.
"What about the diuretics?" I asked. "I just took some about 10 minutes ago."
"That won't be a problem," the attendant replied. "If we have to, we'll help you out."
I quickly found out that "help you out" means pulling the cart I was on to a stop, letting me hop off, and run into the closest bathroom to take a leak.
The next several hours passed in a bit of a blur, because the drugs they put me under knocked me silly. I recall having to do weird maneuver so I could pee, and surprising my wife when I asked what would happen if I overflowed the bottle, but outside of that not much. When I finally woke up I was told it was the best of all worlds: my arteries were fine, and no stents or open heart surgery was required. I only needed drugs to strengthen my heart. Well, and I needed to get diabetes and high blood pressure under control, too.
Crisis averted. (Sort of.)
That left the excess liquid stuck in my body.
By Wednesday, I'd peed out about 9 liters of fluid, and I still had swollen calves and feet. The doctors held me back until I could get enough liquid out for me to finally lose the swelling down there, and so I spent an extra day at the hospital, getting used to the diabetic lifestyle and propping my feet high up enough that fluid flowed out of my legs.
(Free hint: if you're under diuretics, set a timer if you're propping your feet up. Otherwise, it might be too late for you when you try to make it to the bathroom. Yes, I did make it. Barely.)
I was released on Thursday, still very much alive and also very humbled by my experience. This entire thing had crept up on me over the course of several months, and were it not for my wife --and the medical staff-- I'd have likely been in much worse shape. And I don't know what would have happened then.
|When I left the hospital and waited for|
my wife to bring the car around, the mascot
of the Cincinnati Reds, Mr. Red, invited
me to take a seat.
What I do know, however, is that I have people who have my back.
I kept this whole episode quiet on Facebook, because I don't use FB much these days, but it kind of blew up on our guild's Discord. And on my wife's FB post.
So THAT is where I've been the past week.
*That trip included witnessing a hit-and-run accident, so my wife dropped me off and returned to the accident as a witness. Always fun around here.