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Friday, November 09, 2012

Head Games

It is clear that middle age is upon me.  I turned 50 earlier this year and, I must say, it's all gone to hell in the last 30 days.  I was what I thought a vibrant sort of guy.   The gym, yoga, boot camp class, treadmill, weight lifting, worked a full schedule, got up early, took fish oil/B complex/multi vitamin/aspirin, ate well, didn't smoke, drinks only occasionally, and had a (fairly) good attitude.  Umm yeah.  All of that has been placed on the back burner. 

Three or so weeks ago, the headache, eye pain, and neck ache began along with a droopy left eye.  My first thought was stroke.  But the diagnosis was Horner's Syndrome.  I'd never heard of it.  After that, the quest was to find the cause for the Horner's.  One of my two neurologists sent me for a CT scan of the brain, neck and chest which returned a startling discovery -- bilateral dissected carotid arteries.  And that was one week ago today.  Critical.  Cardiovascular surgeon was placed on hold pending my further assessment.  "You need to return to the hospital and check yourself in immediately."  The risk for stroke was high.  I spent last weekend in the hospital with LoverBoy right next to me on a cot.  I have determined that hospitals are not for resting and recouperating.  They are noisy, busy, interruptive, repeatedly answering the same questions, and listening to crazy patients in the rooms next door.  I had eight or ten doctors visit me in my room.  Excellent care and nursing staff. 

Let's talk about the cause for the dissection of the arteries for a minute.....I have no definitive idea why mine happened.  Yoga?  Gym?  Weight lifting?  Twisting my neck wrong?  The list of possibilities is long and includes: 
  • Neck extension during hair-washing at a beauty parlor
  • Chiropractic manipulation of the neck
  • Whiplash injuries
  • Blunt trauma to the neck
  • Extreme neck extension during yoga
  • Painting a ceiling
  • Coughing, vomiting and sneezing
  • Neck extension while receiving mouth-to-mouth during cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
I left the hospital shooting myself in the stomach twice daily with Lovenox, a blood thinner.  This medication was accompanied by the world famous and widely prescribed "rat poison" Coumadin/Warfarin.  As soon as the Coumadin was at the proper level of thinning my blood, I would terminate the Lovenox shots.  That happened yesterday.  My blood is thin enough, but not too thin, now they say.  This Coumadin regimen will continue for the next six months -- Blood draws to check the levels every few days or a week, maybe up to a month.  I will repeat the CT scan then.  The cardiovascular surgeon fully expects that the dissection of the carotids will have healed itself by then.  I had no idea!  That was a small piece of good news in this whole mess.  I had anticipated dealing with it for the remainder of my life.  I've also visited with a Neuro Opthamologist -- a Canadian-born woman of great education and knowledge in Horner's Syndrome and the dissection.  She told me my eye was in perfect medical health, nothing to worry about there.  She discussed my condition with huge amounts of experience and made me feel much better about my prognosis. 

While I was in the hospital, they discovered a 70% blockage in my celiac artery.  Because one thing isn't enough....right?!  I was having no symptoms and had no idea it was there.  They said it could have been there a very long time, possibly even from birth.  But they'd like to do an ultrasound on it to measure the blood flow and track it again in six months to see if the occlusion/blockage has gotten worse or not.  So I had the ultrasound yesterday.  Brad, the technician, was amazing and offered me all kinds of information and medical information -- I love that stuff.  BUT, since I had the test, guess what.....I now have symptoms in the very spot where the celiac artery lies.  Just below the xiphoid process, which is on the center line just below your rib cage.  It has hurt since I left the test yesterday.  It kept me awake for about an hour in the night.  Lawdy.  Lawdy.  Lawdy.  So back to see my primary care doctor this afternoon.  Surgery is the fix for the celiac artery issue.  I can't wait. 

I'm 50.  I have already outlived several adults in my family who died in their 40s.  My own father had two heart attacks just a year or so ahead of my current age.  He eventually died at 62 from Lou Gehrig's Disease.  Both grandfathers died in their 60s, or barely 70.  No men in my immediate family have lived past 70.  This crap plays heavy games in my head.  I think about it.  I wonder about it.  I mean, I feel in some ways like I'm just getting started in my life.  Happy, (was) healthy, eating nicely, enjoying things.  But now I wonder.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring. Let's just say that I'm more than thankful for insurance. Oh yeah, and one more thing, I'm supposed to be working at a real live job somewhere in the middle of this whole mess. 

9 comments:

J.P. said...

Big hugs to you, my friend. I would renew your warranty, stat. Sorry, just had to throw in a little humor there. :)

anne marie in philly said...

appreciate each day given to you. drop the junk, do the prime. and I am sending you healing thoughts still.

smooches to you and blair and mason!

Dave2 said...

Wishing only good things for you.

Java said...

I've seen your facebook posts and wondered what the whole deal is. I'm glad to know, but very sorry you are going through all of this. Good luck. I wish you well.

Ur-spo said...

I am so sorry and saddened by all of this; I've been following your reports on FB. I am gladdened you are surrounded by friends and family all giving you love and support.

:-(

The New Flops Boy said...

Hey baby. So sorry you have been dealing with this. Glad you are OK; prayers and love are with you!

XO, FFB

Blobby said...

Oh honey, you're 50, not middle aged.....unless you were planning on being 100. :)

You are correct, hospitals are not for rest - never have been. But you're doing all the right things, seeing all the right people and sounds like on the road to recovery - though it doesn't sound like a scenic road.

Get better. My chances of running into you at SNA or SJC seem to be slimmer for the next little bit.

cb said...

You get rest, relaxation, no freaky munkeysex, and get better ok?

Greg said...

Sending you good thoughts....