Saturday, November 27, 2021

Let's Play "Where's Red?"

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
past week.


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.


  1. Welcome to the world of having your health issues start to seriously impact your life. :/

    I've been a type 2 diabetic for almost 20 years. I also take a couple of heart meds because I have supra-ventricular tachycardia. If you ever want to chat or ask questions feel free to shoot me a line.

    I haven't had to deal with diuretics, but my wife has because of her leukemia treatments. Fluid build up can get scary very fast if your pericardium starts to fill up. That's probably one of the reasons the ER moved so fast.

    1. I was so damn stubborn, thinking that this was just an allergy or a chest congestion, that I wasn't listening to my wife or anybody. I hate to think of what it might have turned out like if I hadn't had that diabetic consultation scheduled.

      Thanks for the offer and the kind words, Pallais. It's going to be quite an adventure, dealing with diabetes and with the medical/insurance industry.

    2. One of the biggest lessons my wife and I have learned is to not let things sit. We contact our doctors when unusual things are happening. As much as we don't want to bother the doctors over something that might be normal or end up in the hospital, it is much better to catch things as early as possible. Save the stubbornness for when you are needing to deal with something, not for waiting to find out what might be an issue. ^_^

      It's definitely an adventure. The hardest change for me was altering my eating habits. It took me around a year to get a decent handle on what I should be eating and drinking. It's hard to work around some cravings. While time will mute some tastes, getting to that point isn't easy.

      The main thing is that you heard and listened to your wake-up call. Now you can start reorganizing parts of your life for the better.

    3. I quickly discovered that I was the only person who didn't freak out at the word "diabetes", mainly because my grandfather dealt with it for 20 years after he retired until his death from colon cancer. So, I figured, if he could do it, so could I.

      What I did find out was that his insistence on doing it himself --which included eating canned Tomato soup all the time-- wasn't the smartest way to attack diabetes. If anything, it was one of the worst ways of doing so, given that Campbell's soups are high in salt content.

      But I can learn. I kind of have no choice.

  2. OMG Red, I was in fact wondering where you'd been but I wouldn't have expected something like this. I'm glad you're as OK as it's possible to be, considering the situation...

    Diabetes is an oof and definitely something to get used to, but at least it's something you can get on with. I hope you're alright in terms of finances as well, considering that it's my understanding that this kind of stuff can be quite ruinous in the US...

    *big hugs*

    1. Thanks, Shintar!

      I'm kind of not looking forward to the bills, either. At least I didn't have full bypass or stent insertion surgery, or I'd likely be bankrupt.

  3. Oh boy, glad that went good. Stay safe!

    1. I'll do that. Thanks for the kind thoughts, Nogamara.

  4. Glad to hear everything went well once they found out what was really going on. I'd second Pallais' comments on not letting things sit although sometimes it's hard even to know there's anything wrong. I was very fortunate to have my colon cancer picked up by the routine age-related testing three years ago - it was already quite well along by then and I felt pretty much fine. It would have been easy not to bother with the tests, especially when they asked me to repeat them and then a third time. I doubt I'd be here typing this if I'd just let it slide, though.

    Good luck managing your diabetes and my sympathies with the costs. At least that's one thing we don't have to worry about here.

    1. Oh, you have no idea, Bhagpuss.

      My son is going to spend a hair under six months at the University of Lancaster, and when I heard he'd been accepted I thought "Hey, no worries about healthcare with the NHS there." Then I found out that NHS only takes over for exchange students at the six month mark. 4-7 days longer and he'd have been fine, but noooooo.....

      Thanks again for all of the kind words, and I can totally understand your situation better now.

  5. GOOD LORD! I wondered where you were. I'm so glad you made it through all that, damn!

    My problem has been I trust medical staff and don't ask enough questions so if they say, oh, get defibrillator, it will be fine. I do. Don't be an idiot like me, Write a list of questions and ask them EVERYTHING you can think of!

    I'm so glad everything seems to be under control and here's hoping it stays that way!

    1. I survived my first trip to a restaurant tonight, although to be fair it was our local Aladdin's, which does have a lot of options for diabetics.

      And thanks, Ancient. I really appreciate everything you've gone through a lot more. And I'll be more vocal. I promise.

  6. Hi Red;

    Very glad to see you're coming through with positivity. Atta boy!

    Ain't growing older just full of awesome surprises?

    Hang in there man, always great to read your posts, whatever direction they take. It's a welcome Monday sight, thank you muchly.


    1. Oh yay. Surprises.

      On the bright side, at least this was an "expected" surprise, compared to all the ED and other drug ads you see on television.

      But thanks for the kind words, Bill, and I'll keep on truckin' as much as I can.

  7. Oh my goodnesss, RED!!
    I am so glad that you're still here to tell us this story!
    It's good that you had an alert doctor who recognized that it was necessary to throw the intended script for your visit out the window and address a greater problem. It's also very good that you didn't need any of the additional procedures or interventions. ((hug))
    My father was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes when he was about 50; he's so far managed to control it really very well with diet and exercise (I don't know if he's taking any medications for it). I had gestational diabetes, which further increased my risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, and also makes it likely that I'll develop it at a younger age than my father did. I controlled the gestational diabetes with medication and diet -- though it took some getting used to, and after my baby was born, I fell back into my previous diet pretty quickly. Best wishes to you that you'll be able to manage your diabetes with dietary adjustments and not too much medication!

    1. He likely is taking at least something for his T2, because it's very hard to control it otherwise. I have found out I'm having an easier time with blood sugar than with the high blood pressure. I suspect that the meds for blood pressure aren't working quite as well at the moment because I transitioned to them as I left the hospital, but we'll see.

      Thanks for your words, Kamalia, and I'll take care. I promise.

  8. What a terrible time you've had! You had just about every tough thing thrown at you. I'm so glad they got you in the hospital and got everything under control. Poor guy. Big hugs to your wife for being there and running you in where you needed to be. Please take it slow and let us know how you're doing.

    1. Thanks, Atheren!

      I've been "enjoying" some of the side effects of Metformin and other drugs, as in 'I've got the common initial side effect of "the runs" from Metformin, and I have to wait it out until the 10-14 day mark.' Other than that, however, the BP has been persistently stubborn but I've been improving on the other fronts.

  9. Man, that's a lot thrown at you at once! You must still be reeling from the shock of it all. I'm so glad you're ok!

    Hang in there and take it easy. I'll be thinking of you!

    1. O!!!

      OMG, an Ophelie sighting!!

      How did you find out about this? ::looks at blog:: Oh.

      Anyway, yes, I'll take it easy, and thanks for thinking of me. I'm just so surprised to see you, that's all.

    2. Aww, I still read through my blog feed every few days. And you will forever have a spot there! I don't play WoW (or much of any game, really), though, so there's usually not much for me to engage about.

      Reading your post was like: "Oh man, that sucks. Oh, that REALLY sucks. Oh, that really really really sucks. What, THERE'S MORE?" I can't just not express my concern after you've been through THAT sort of wringer!

      I hope you are feeling better and the meds are doing their work. I guess things never really go back to normal after those diagnosis's, but hopefully they go back to as normal as possible!