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|Sunday, December 7th, 2014|
I've been doing a LOT better. I've been going to cardiac rehab for over two weeks now, and it really made a difference. My progression has even surprised me. And I don't have nearly as much pain now ... I haven't needed any painkillers for over two weeks as well! That inculdes otc painkillers. I've been really, really happy about it. My stamina has increased, and I was looking forward to returning back to work at the start of the new year.
Last week, I think, as I was laying in bed, I rolled over and just happened to have my left hand on my chest when I did. As I rolled over, I felt things move. Things that aren't supposed to move. I did it again, and distinctly felt one side of my sternum left upwards from my chest, and the other side sunk in. Lying still, there was also a distinct gap between the two pieces.
I had a feeling that this may not be a good thing. It didn't hurt though, and I looked up online and read many posts from people saying that it can take six months for a sternum to fuse together, not to worry, etc.
On Monday, I casually mentioned it to my physical therapist during cardiac rehab. She was concerned, and told me that I should bring it up with my cardiologist, even if it didn't hurt. I promised I would.
Tuesday, I remembered that I forgot to have my bloodwork done on Monday, so off to the lab I went. I ran a few other errands and went home. I hadn't been home for long when my cardiologist's office called me. Convenient.
The levels of coumadin, the bloodthinner I take that keeps me from clotting and therefore enables me to continue living, was much lower than it should be. She adjusted my medication, and I mentioned my sternum to her. She also seemed concerned, and said she wanted me to come in to have it looked at. She'd make an appointment and call me back. I didn't hear from her for the rest of the day.
Wednesday, when I arrived for cardia rehab, it was also time for an evaluation by their doctor. My therpist and I mentioned my sternum to her, and I lifted my shirt. By then, it was noticeable under the skin visually when I turned left and right. Her eyes got big when she saw it, and told me that this was definitely
something that needed to be looked at, and under no
circumstances was I to do any exercise with my arms (which I hadn't been, but was due to start in the upcoming week.)
Thursday morning, I called my cardiologist's office, since I had yet to hear from them, and arranged to come in within an hour.
My operating doctor didn't examine me, but on of his associates did. She took all of 5 seconds to determine that something was badly wrong, and that I needed a CT scan right away. Even without the CT scan, she told me that most likely I was going to need more surgery that will either re-wire my sternum, or fix it with a titanium plate. (I kinda like the plate idea!)
She told me that they would take good care of me. If surgery is necessary, I'll need to be admitted to the hospital a few days prior, so that they can take me off my bloodthinner while monitoring me for clots. Otherwise, there's a distinct danger of bleeding out during surgery.
Sadly, she also told me that I won't be able to return to work in January.
The CT scan only took a few minutes, and I was on my way home.
Surprisingly, my CT results appeared in my records that afternoon:TECHNIQUE: Chest CT performed without contrast with sagittal and
coronal 2-D reconstructions.
FINDINGS: There has been a previous median sternotomy. The sternotomy
wires do not cross the sternotomy. There is a gap with soft tissue
attenuation at the site of the sternotomy with the gap measuring at
2.3 cm. There is some resorption of the margins of the sternotomy.
Without intravenous contrast, it is difficult to determine if there
is abscess although I do not see significant fluid attenuation at the
sternotomy site. There are degenerative changes of the
sternoclavicular joints. There is some stranding within the
prevascular fat. Subcentimeter lymph nodes are seen in the
mediastinum. There are coronary artery calcifications. There is a
mild pericardial thickening without definite pericardial effusion.
There is a linear area of subsegmental atelectasis seen at the
periphery of the left lower lobe. Right lung is clear. No pleural
Imaging through the upper abdomen is notable for some fatty
infiltration of the liver. Adrenal glands are not enlarged.
Gallbladder, pancreas, and spleen are unremarkable in the visualized
areas. There are some degenerative changes to the thoracic spine with
mild thoracic kyphosis.
I'm not a cardiologist, but these results did not look good to me, especially the nearly one inch gap between the two halves of my sternum! If someone were to give me a sharp finger to the chest, it's probably hit my heart and kill me. I'm also concerned that there's no sign of the wires that were there in the first place. I don't think
that my body would absorb them (although I wouldn't put it past my super liver to make the attempt) so where the hell are they? (Actually, it only says that the wires don't cross the gap, I guess. So maybe they're just hanging there.)
So I'm pretty certain that I will indeed need surgery. In fact, I spent Friday morning preparing to be called in and admitted to the hospital. I expect that the edges of the sternum cut will need to be re-opened so they can heal together. At least I already have a scar that easily marks where they need to cut!
I never did get the call, so probably someone decided I should at least have the weekend before being readmitted. I'm glad, because even though I don't remember being frightened by the big surgery in October, for whatever reason this surgery is worrying me. I'm not sure if it's the surgery that frightens me, or knowing that I may end up inside that strange parallel universe inside my head again. That's not
a fun place to go. (I've almost finished writing down my recollections of that time. Fourteen pages and counting.)
So I'm frustrated. Mighty frustrated. Because this means I'm nearly back to square one. All the pain I had to deal with for eight weeks is going to start all over again. Not being able to lift myself out of bed. Not being able to cough or sneeze without excrutiating pain. Not being able to lift anything over five pounds. Not being able to shower myself, or use the bathroom without help, or walk easily, or any of those other little things that I've taken for granted for 40 years.
And my chest hair was just
starting to be noticeable again.
Hopefully, since there's no surgery on my organs this time, my recovery will be easier and quicker. I don't see why I'd need to be put on a respirator and kept sedated again, for instance. But this means missing two more months of work, at the very least. I have no idea how long I'll be hospitalized. I have no idea if I'll need to be transferred to an inpatient rehab facility again.
It's a frustrating set back.
|Wednesday, November 26th, 2014|
|Hemo the Magnificent*
So, I met with the hematologist yesterday. He was a little hard to understand, but he told me I tested positive for Lupus-Like Inhibitor, explaining that the antibodies in my blood are attacking the blood vessel walls, making them rough and causing blood to stick to them and clot. There's no cure, and I'll be on blood thinners for life.
Good news though is that this should never happen again, he said. _Should_.
What I forgot to ask him was why it happened in the first place. I'm scheduled for another blood test in February that's going to be done to make sure this is what is really going on. I'll try to remember to ask him then what triggered this after never having any clotting problems before.
He said there's no test for this, unfortunately. It's not hereditary, but it is genetic (that seems contraindicative). He also referred me to a Coumadin clinic in December.
The hematologist said I had the worst case of blood clots he has ever seen.
I told him I wasn't sure if that should make me happy or not.
Annoyingly, these test results are dated October 2nd. So apparently they've known all along what was causing the clotting and just didn't bother to tell me. Granted, it's possible the information was buried so deeply in my chart that it was missed.
He also very soberly told me how very serious this had been and that people die from blood clots all the time, and that this really should have killed me as well. He is glad I'm doing as well as I am.
And to be honest, I almost feel like I'm back to my old self again, at least mentally (There's still some memory issues.) Once my chest finishes healing, I think I'll be fine (It still hurts, a lot at times, but not like it did before. Sneezing and coughing still terrifies me though, because it feels like I'm splitting in half every time.) Especially once I get some more cardiac rehab sessions done as well, and my strength and stamina return to normal.
He told me that I'm still restricted on the weight I can lift, because my sternum is still somewhat soft. I think I made the right decision to wait to return to work until January. I want to be as close to 100% recovered as possible when I go back, especially since I know that I'll end up pushing myself to show that I can still do the job just as well as, if not better than, I did before the surgery. And I definitely don't want to be coddled.
So that's that. Looks like I have some lifestyle changes to consider, but if the only thing I need to do to treat this is taking one pill a day, I can live with that. Well, I have to, I guess. But I know it could have been a lot worse.
*This is the title of an actual movie shown to us in school. It was from the fifties, but showed an impressive mix of live action and animation. As well as cigarette smoking doctors! And bible passages!
(And it turns out it's totally on YouTube.)
|Tuesday, November 25th, 2014|
I continue to improve. I'm doing cardiac rehab now (gentle exercises to strengthen my heart and lungs) which is going well, although it's frustrating how much they suck away my energy.
I'm hoping to return to work beginning of January. I don't want to go back until I'm as close to 100% as possible, because I know I'll end up driving myself hard to show everyone that I can still do the job just as well or even better than I did before the surgery.
Speaking off, here is a picture that was taken of the blood clot that was removed from my heart. I'm putting it behind a cut, because it is kinda gross.( IckyCollapse )
Honestly, it's mind boggling to me that this came out of my heart; that I had open heart surgery; that I needed
open heart surgery. It feels like it happened to someone else.
I'm also doing something I didn't think I was going to do: I'm writing down all my false memories of events that ocurred during my nearly two weeks of sedation. Writing them down is helping me work through them, and is helping me accept that they are not real, because a lot of them still feel very
real. It's interesting that I'm noticeing a few corelations between things I remember and things that I'm told ocurred in the real world.
|Sunday, November 9th, 2014|
I'm at home now, and have been since Monday.
Two Thursdays ago, while I was still in the nursing home, the UTI that I knew I had kicked me hard with its ugly little feet. I was out walking to halls, working on building my strength, when I got the chills and started shivering so badly I didn't think I'd be able to make it back to my room. Somehow, I managed, and went to bed to warm up. I had known I had a UTI since I arrived, but the first test supposedly never made it to the lab (found this out after six days) and the results of the second test hadn't come back yet.( Read more...Collapse )
|Thursday, October 30th, 2014|
I continue to improve daily, bbut I have a way to go before I can go home, I think.
my balance has entity returned, now I need to improve my stamina.
|Saturday, October 25th, 2014|
ok, finally got LJ insstalled on my phone. please excuse the typing mistakees.
in a nut shelll ... the dates are still very ffuzzy, but 4-5 weeks ago I had open heart surgery and open lung lurgery as well.
I went to the urgent care on September 1ush? because I was having some breathing ttrouble. They put me on oxygen and immediately sent me to the hospital, where I was whisked off to emeergency surgery because I was full of blood clots.
there was one large clot that started in one of my heart atrium and passed through a hole betwrreen them that I've probably had since birth but was never noticed.
there was a clot riding the saddle between my bronchial. arterial branches. there were clots everywhere- they removed over half a cup of clots from me. I didn't have blood, I had sausage.
I've been recovering ever since. I if I have the details right, I was intubated for at leeast two weeks. And kept sedated throughout, so I remember nothing. I was hours away from being given a tracheotomy so they could get me healing right.
there have been more misadventures, but I'm tired.
I'm getting bettter, slowly. I have one hell of a scar too, as well as stories to tell.
|Sunday, August 31st, 2014|
|Friday, August 8th, 2014|
I thought this would be fixed by now, but for a long time, I have not been able to post comments on anybody's journals. Including one I moderate!
|Monday, June 30th, 2014|
|Saturday, May 31st, 2014|
|Sunday, May 4th, 2014|
I'm not even going to try to pick up where I left off last time. Because today I turn 44, and I'm stuck in another town working an overnight shift at a hospital and there's nothing for me to do but sit here and get paid. Yay.
Monday or Tuesday, we get to close on our house
. That's exciting. What sucks is that we're scheduled to be in this town until the 17th. Hopefully, it won't be that long, but it could be. I'm working alone overnight until Wednesday, when I'll start coming in at 8 a.m. After this project is done, I'm not sure what the company will do with me.
One good bit of news - they hired me on as a permanent employee, with benefits! I'm no longer a temp. That has bothered me for my entire employment.
In mental health news, after Cymbalta stopped helping and another drug did nothing, I've been put on one named Brintellix
which seems to be helping. My doctor also wants me to give transcranial magnetic stimulation
a try, which I'm willing to do. She also asked me to consider ECT
, which I am not
willing to do. Good or bad, my memories make me who I am, and I'm not willing to lose them.
|Wednesday, April 30th, 2014|
|Sunday, April 27th, 2014|
It's been a really, really long time since I've made a substantial post. I've noticed over time that I'm not the only one- I have notifications set for many of my friends here, and the notifications have been few and far between. I'm sure a lot of that has to do with the popularity of Facebook ... but Facebook is another animal. It's too public of a forum to say the type of things I say here, and I'm sure that's true for a lot of people.
I'm not sure why I stopped posting as much as I used to. It could be due to the general ennui I have felt for the past year. Being out of work for five months ended up being really difficult for me to recover from mentally. When I started working at my current job in September, it turned out to be really physically demanding. While I welcomed this, my body did not at first. Now, almost May, and I miss the physical labor, to be honest. I still do some, but it's not an everyday all-day-long matter any more. I've lost a little weight and gained a lot of muscle, and I like that.
When I was hired, it was as a temporary worker. Eventually I was basically promised to be made a permanent employee with benefits, but there was no date set. I went through a lot of mental up-and-downs through all this, busting my hump to impress people and then feeling like I wasn't working hard enough because it didn't seem like anyone noticed. Meanwhile, the main part of the project (hardware and software upgrade for the largest hospital system in New Mexico) ended at the end of the year, my team was split up, and we were put in various other positions to work until the next phase of the project began.
When the next phase of the project began, I discovered I was the only one from my original team that was on the new one. I didn't know if this was good or bad at the time. The bad part of the project was that we were now travelling around New Mexico to Socorro, Espanola, Tucumcari, and Ruidoso to do installations, staying overnight at least one night in each town. The good part was that Andy was on the team now, and we got to work together. I am truly a lucky guy in that I get to spend everyday with my best friend.
The phase of the project ended with the end of March, and once again in April was taken up with busy work until the first week in May, when the upgrades will go live. Andy and I are getting sent to Espanola. Espanola is not a town I like, but it's only for a week.
When we get back, we close on or house
. We started looking for one in February. Thank goodness we had a good realtor recommended to us, because we would have been lost otherwise. We looked at close to 80 houses, I think. Out of those, we found four we liked well enough to make an offer on. And four times we lost out. The fifth house we found at the beginning of April, and it really is almost exactly what we were looking for. We made an offer, and the seller accepted!
Then the waiting began. The house had to be inspected. The mortgage had to finalized. The underwriters needed to approve the mortgage. The house had to be appraised. The repairs needed to be made that were found during the inspection, and the house needs to be reinspected after that.
Most of this is done with very little input from Andy and myself, although we did manage to be there for the inspection. It's an exciting and terrifying time. On May 12th, we get to sit down with the loan officer and sign papers for three hours.
But I've felt like my life has been on hold since we moved back to New Mexico. I've been living in someone else's house, and while I do have my own room, and pictures on the wall, it's not the same. I am looking forward to a home of my own.
I still can't believe it's happening.
In October, I had an amazing experience at the 21st anniversary celebration of Poetry and Beer, Albuquerque's premiere poetry slam event, of which I used to take part. I was nervous about going, feeling a little selfconscious, but once I put on the clothes and boots, I found it was easy to slip back into the old Outsider persona.
It was awesome. I heard fantastic poetry and wonderful music, and I got to see old friends I hadn't seen in over 10 years, like slowmosexual
, and others.(I just lost about five paragraphs for some reason. I'm going to finish this post for now, and pick it back up later.)
|Sunday, April 6th, 2014|
|Tuesday, April 1st, 2014|
|April 2014 Column is here!
“Pujols! It’s funny!”
Deep down inside, I’m just an average guy.
Because deep down inside, the average guy is just an average 12-year-old boy.
So the average guy never stops being amused by the same things the average 12-year-old boy thinks is funny. Like things that come from deep down inside.( Read more...Collapse )
|Monday, March 31st, 2014|
|Friday, February 28th, 2014|
|Sunday, February 16th, 2014|
Wow. I've been really quiet for a long time.
Life is going okay- job is fine, for the most part. I still am having difficulties fitting into the corporate structure, but that is slowly improving.
Health has been okay - I'm off Cymbalta, as after increasing it to 90mgs daily for a month it still was not doing much of anything. I'm now on 20mgs of a new drug called Vibryd, the results of which have been sporadic at best. But then, it's only been two weeks.
The biggest news - Andy and I have been pre-approved for a mortgage, and we're hunting for a house.
|Wednesday, January 1st, 2014|