A conservative news and views blog.

Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Thursday, October 06, 2011

My Absence

Timothy Birdnow

Everyone is probably wondering where I've been for the last week or so. I spent five days in the hospital with Congestive Heart Failure and was unable to maintain this website. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Dana Mathewson and Jack Kemp for keeping things going during my absence.

The good news is that there is a big chance I'm going to be fine! I suffered damage to the valve leading blood out of the heart, and to that alone, and, given care and time, I may well heal. I had no arterial blockage, no signs of damage anywhere else. The doctors were quite puzzled; they really couldn't explain what happened.

I had a persistant cough that I thought was a result of allergies; it started shortly after my getting a third cat. I ignored it and tried treating it with over-the-counter medicines (and it did help to take Clariton). Unfortunately, the cough kept getting worse and it reached the point where I was hacking so ferociously that I feared injuring myself. I was coughing myself into a gag, and feared I would asperate at some point; I felt vomit rising, and could well have choked on my own puke ala John Bonham of Led Zepplin or Jimmy Hendrix. I resolved to get to the doctor as soon as practicable.

Fortunately, I am no way hip or edgy enough to pull such a stunt!

But I noticed trouble breathing, too, and believed that perhaps I was developing a touch of asthma. There is a form of asthma that has only coughing as the primary symptom.

But last Wednesday in the wee hours I noticed a bizarre phonomenon; it sounded like beer or soda crackling when I exhaled. This stopped when I sat up, but it was WEIRD! I knew something was wrong. I planned to visit an urgent care facility as soon as I had the chance.

But driving into work my breathing became more labored, and I went to the emergency room. I figured I'd do a breathing test, get some steroids, and be back to work before lunch. WRONG! They rushed me into the ER and ran a battery of tests which showed my heart was shooting craps.

I was there five days with endless needles stuck into my hoary hide. I am also a type II diabetic with high blood pressure and both my blood pressure and blood sugar were off the charts. I have had to get all of this under control (they spiraled out as a result of the stress on my body) and that means endless medication. I'm really weak right now; this is exhausting to write.

I have to wear a defibrilator full time in case my heart stops, and may have to get a pacemaker/defibrilator implanted. It is my earnest hope to avoid that. Luckily, because of my youth (relatively speaking; I used to think I would be washed up by now, but find that the foolish notions of my adolescence were wrong - I won't be washed up for another year at least!) I stand a good chance of recovering. Time will tell.

And money will tell; I about ended back in the cardiac ward when I found out how much the Lifevest they made me wear cost! I called the cardiologists and they said that, yes, I absolutely need it; my functions are well below 35% (they wouldn't tell me how far below, or what that actually means) and there is every chance that I could go into cardiac arrest.

Boy it costs a lot of money to stay alive!

But I feel pretty good - in some ways better than in a long time, although I am pale as a ghost and weak.

Yesterday I visited my diabetes doctor (well, the nurse-practicioner, since he was on vacation) to try to bum insulin (which they put me on for the time being) and she asked me why I didn't go to Barnes Hospital where they are based. I didn't bother to tell her that I once went to that Auto De Fait they call an emergency room once, and never again. (I had blown out my back, and the E.R. doctors kept me waiting in the hallway for twelve hours, only to give me morphine and discharge me. I collapsed in the lobby and they wouldn't let me back in because I had already been discharged! I had to crawl into a lobby chair which mercifully had wheels and my wife had to roll me out of the hospital - they wouldn't even give me a wheel chair - and drive to another hospital.) But St. Mary's was good, and I felt like I received about as good a care as I'm likely to get.

I will say this; there was a lot of nice people there - even if the female staff had an entirely too good a time shaving my genitalia and painting it blue for my cardiac catheder. (Look, I know that there are people who pay good money for this sort of thing in Amsterdam or Bangcock, but I just wasn't up for such shenanigans.) But it made me far less apprehensive, and I really rather enjoyed the proceedure for the bonhommie. It truly made me less embarassed.

But don't get me started on the food; a cardiac/diabetic diet is banned under international law as torture, or should be. I happen to know that the KGB used it to break dissidents during the tenure of Brezhnev, and It's whispered that the Iranians use it today in extreme cases. The North Koreans had to give it up, though; their targets weren't used to any food at all, so the saltless/sugarless/carbless/dairy restricted/meat restricted tasteless paste that passes for sustenance tasted almost palatable to them. And water; I can have so little of it I may as well live in Saudi Arabia.

So I'm home but fatigue easily. Blogging may be light for the next few days; Dana and Jack are both tied up pretty much, and I can't do more than a few minutes at the computer. I'll be posting as much as possible, but it may require some time. It certainly requires a lot of effort from me.

Gotta go now; I am completely pooped from writing this.

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by