Hello from Denial

TL;DR I am getting the medical attention I really, really need. My head just isn’t around the fact that I really, really need it (and that denial may be keeping me a whole bunch calmer than I have a right to be).

The “Too Long” stuff:

I started coughing when the air got bad in Seattle, around September 7.  No biggie, the air sucked.

The air got better around September 19.  I kept coughing.  I found Charlie’s blood ox meter and was in the 80s.  This is not good.  

I did a video appointment Sunday the 20th.  With fever and cough, they treated me for pneumonia.  My primary care agreed the next day and told me not to come in.  They didn’t want nasty coughing people in their nice clinic.  (Especially since they’d’ve given me the same meds if they confirmed pneumonia.)

My fever went down a bit, my blood ox went up a little, I kept coughing.

That Wednesday, I emptied the litter box, involving 25 pound boxes of litter and a 50 pound bag of dirty litter and got a COVID test.  (The litter box actually matters, really.)

Thursday, the COVID test was negative.

Saturday morning I gave a remote workshop early.  I jumped out of bed, got tangled in the blanket, and was out of breath when I got to the bathroom, 15 feet away, but I figured I’d hurried.  The workshop went well.

Sunday afternoon I was a little out of breath a few times.

Monday September 28, I couldn’t go more than 10 feet without taking a break, so we came to the ER Monday night.

I got lots of tests.  No pneumonia, but a large pulmonary embolism.  I’ve since learned it is a remarkably large embolism, since my doctor said she’d never seen one cover all 5 lobes of the lungs.  Until me.  Why am I still breathing?  Damned if they know!

Embolisms can hurt the right ventricle, so I had some more tests.  And the left ventricle of my heart was effectively pumping nothing,  Since the doctors, unlike Charlie, know the difference between left and right, this was curious.

I got moved to the hospital in town with a Cardiac ICU for surgery to remove the embolism, but they decided against that since my heart was a mess.  So they scheduled me to see the Heart Failure Specialist.  Talk about rotten branding.

But they all came to see me because, other than the not walking thing, I’m fine.  Normally people with so little blood flow are not conscious, can’t talk, don’t have the ability to reason, and certainly don’t tell dad jokes.  I apparently am a medical curiosity.

Since I wasn’t obviously that sick, they moved me from ICU so someone with open heart surgery had a bed there.  They’ve continued to run tests that confuse them.  Did the embolism come from blood clots in my legs?  Nope, no evidence of clots there.  Was the test showing no blood flow wrong?  A little low, but not a lot.  Did chemo 15 years ago cause the heart problem?  Are we grasping at straws? 

I kept trying to explain I was going to die of cancer, Parkinson’s, or road rage, not a heart thing! I still haven’t really internalized any of this. I think, on the whole, that is a good thing.

I’m getting lots of drugs, starting to eat again, and talk to lots of specialists.  I’ve told them not to send me home until I can walk the 50 feet from the elevator to the apartment without crying.  Sadly, the blood thinners don’t affect the existing clots which the body will absorb in time.  (In too damn much time if you ask me.)

But after barely being able to walk 2 feet to the bedside commode Tuesday and just making it the 10 feet to the real bathroom yesterday, I met with the physical therapist today. We went for a walk in the big hall. Like, outside my room. She followed behind with a wheelchair, walker, and oxygen, ready to catch me when I fell. (Charlie was not allowed out of the room–COVID restrictions.) We went to the end of the hall, and back. And then did it again. Then did it without the safety equipment a couple more times. Hundreds of feet.

Modern medicine is simply amazing.

Of course, it also gives us fun things like life vests, which due to a few arhythmias (is that the plural? I’m learning a lot now), I’m going to wear for the next 3-6 months. If my heart misbehaves, it will shock it back. An external defibrillator? I dunno, that’s tomorrow.

And after taking the ambulance to Cardiac ICU on Tuesday, it’s great to have “tomorrow” again!


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