Health problems:

Feb 15, 2013, 6:42 AM |

No this isn't chess related, except that it has to do with me.

In short, I will be having a heart cath this Tuesday to check for and repair a possible blockage, I do not anticipate any issues, but I will be "taking vacation" Monday night in the event that things, for whatever reason, don't go as planned or in case I'm not up to playing for a day or two.

But here is a full rundown for anyone interested:


This is a bit overdue, but I do owe my friends, family and those who care about me a full run down of what's been going on and what I think the future holds for me.  The good news is...I have a future.


As many of you know now, I was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (AFIB).  It's basically an inability for the heart to properly handle the electrical impulses that cause it to beat.  When those disruptions become bad enough, they cause palpitations (and worse).  This can be, and in my case, is being treated with medication and fortunately, I've responded well enough that, so far, I'm not under any activity or work restrictions.  In my case, this is entirely genetic.  My symptoms are exactly in line with what many on mom's side of the family have dealt with.  More good news there is that most in her family have lived into their 80's and beyond, even with this condition.


The 1st time I remember having AFIB was 2 years ago when I allowed my blood sugar to get way too high and ended up in the ER with ketoacidosis.  Once my dehydration and blood sugar was taken care of, it went away.


For the last part of 2012, I experienced constant fatigue.  I didn't feel anything out of the ordinary and just figured it was part of working nights, but I was fairly consistently lethargic.  Even to the point that I'd begun to pass up opportunities to fursuit (or running out of energy while doing so earlier than normal).  In January, I came down with a respiratory and ear infection.  After a week of struggling with it, I went to the doctor and was placed on anti-biotics.  I noticed, during my illness, the episodes of AFIB had returned, infrequent and nagging at first, but about 2 weeks after visiting the doctor, they became more frequent and hit harder.  I was finally getting past my respiratory illness, but the palpitations weren't getting better in fact, I had started having a few episodes that were downright debilitating.  I returned to the doctor and was placed on a portable heart monitor so they could see these things when they were happening.


The 3rd day I was on the monitor (a Saturday morning) was probably the worst day of my life.  I woke up with constant episodes.  In some cases, they were hitting within a minute of each other.  I filled up and transmitted my monitor several times that morning.  In the midst of that were two episodes that, I found out later, could have actually taken my life.  There is no doubt, with what I've learned about it, that God spared my life that morning.  The first actually occurred while I was off the monitor and in the shower.  It was so bad that I might have actually blacked out for a few seconds and would have likely fallen had I not braced myself against the corner of the stall.  The second, I had just put the monitor back on and that one is recorded (see below).  About 15 minutes after transmitting that one, I was called back by the on call doctor and told the get to the ER.  The kids had gymnastics that morning, so I just jumped in the car with Tina and let her drop me off at the hospital on the way to the Y.  We both agreed that there was no need for them to miss their normal activities just to watch me get poked and prodded (or just wait) in the ER.  By the time I got checked into the ER, the severity and frequency of my episodes had reduced, but they were still there and presenting enough that the doctors DID know something was wrong.  Of course, the rest of that day was a complete regiment of tests and labs.  The key results from the lab showed negative for cario enzymes (no heart attack) and low magnesium.  


Afterward, I was 'officially' admitted and moved up to cardiology.  By that time, I was still having episodes, but they were, by comparison, barely noticeable.  I was so relieved, not only to be clear at the moment, but also by the fact that I was going to have an answer (and hopefully a fix) for this soon, that I was actually in a really good mood when I got to my room.  It was probably the most secure I'd felt in quite some time.  The feeling that the worst of this was, for now, behind me.  Where I would normally be anxious and fearful of what tests might be in store for me next, instead I felt at peace.  My mood was good enough that I even picked on the nurses a bit...stuff like threatening to call and order a pizza for the next night's Superbowl (BTW, both they and my mom said it wouldn't have been the first time that's happened, LOL).  I'd have to say that the overall, the biggest downside to my stay in the hospital was that the kids couldn't come up and see me, but then, a 5 and 3 year old rampaging through the cardio unit may not have been a good thing after all.


Bit of a side note and one thing that, quite frankly, fascinated me was the fact that, despite not taking my diabetes medication (doctor's orders) my sugar stayed under 200.  It showed me that it IS possible for me to control it through my diet.  Unfortunately though, I still don't have quite enough discipline to eat like I was in the hospital.  I've lost about 25 pounds since I started taking Victoza, but that's mostly because of that medication's tendency to cause loss of appetite, but even with that, I'm not quite ready for the strict 1800 calorie diet they had me on.


That night, they started me on blood thinners, beta blockers and a magnesium supplement.  That next day, I felt better than I had in months.  I spent that day just relaxing and hangin out in the room.  Yes, I did sleep through most of the SuperBowl, but I wasn't very interested in it this year anyway.  I did wake up during the power outage, said "you'd think those morons would have a secondary power feed, or at least a backup battery/generator system to prevent something like that...oh well, that's New Orleans for you", rolled over and went back to sleep.


Since they started me on the medication, I not only haven't had any more episodes, but have had a lot more energy and been more interested in doing things in general.  This past Wednesday, I had a stress test to make sure things were, in fact, better.  Yesterday morning, I had my follow up on the test with mixed results.  The good news was the medication was working and I've had no more AFIB episodes.  


The bad news...I have a "possible small blockage" in one of my coronary arteries.  So this Tuesday, I will be going in for a heart catheterization.  I am pretty nervous about it, but I think my biggest fear is not the procedure itself, but what they might find.  Anyway...they did say "small" so I'm hopeful that I will dodge having a stent (or worse).