Quick Health Update

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I’ll keep this quick.
In my last post, I shared my stay in the hospital due to heart issues and have continued to get notes & well wishes from all of you – whether friends, family, or ‘other’.  Many of you keep checking to see how things are going, and to that point, an ‘update’ is in order.

If this is all new to you, you can get get the full story here:  My Tough Few Days

In all honesty, there is little to update.  I returned to work a week after hospitalization.  While life changes were suggested, I wasn’t given specific directions to do anything except add new prescriptions and to talk to my doctor (more on that in a bit).   The prescriptions are dielectrics to help reduce my blood pressure, cholesterol medicine, and aspirin … and baby aspirin at that.  For you medical professionals out there, I can go into more detail but don’t expect me to have the prescriptions spelled correctly.

I’ve improved my diet, but that wasn’t hard.  I’m an expert at eating healthy, just the motivation was lacking.  When you change your diet everything seems new and different for the first couple of weeks – so that’s the zone I’m in now.  I try to walk every day, but it’s been stupid hot and my body has to get back into shape.  So I do what I can.

I did meet with my new Primary Care Physician and am pretty optimistic.  Selecting her for her website touting a strong history of dealing with weight management, I learned that she not only had a background in internal medicine but in psychology too.  We spent more time in the first meeting talking about my history, my motivations, my challenges, then spending time poking and prodding.  She says, she believes a doctor can fix a body, but if the mind caused the problem then it needs to be fixed too.

Then she says — I’m going to get you a real physical.  Since that time I have seven x-rays taken, three vials of blood drawn, and ultrasound over so much of my body that I was covered in that good from head to toe (not kidding — did you know that they sometimes ultrasound feet?  because they did to mine).  There’s a stress test coming too, one of those where they fill you with something that shows up when they stick you to a nuclear bomb … or a nuclear test … or whatever that is.  Oh, and a written exam.  Not kidding … a written exam.  In a few weeks, the doc should know more about my body than any doc has ever tried, that’s including the surgeon who confirmed that my guts do not contain aliens (I asked).

So that’s the update.  Don’t assume the updates will be common, I just know y’all are asking me.  Hopefully I can get back to the regularly scheduled Bear Feed stupidity, so consider this something to tide you over.

My Tough Few Days

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Dear Bearfeeders,

Many of you, especially those close to me or watching my Facebook feed, are aware that the last few weeks were not precisely the best for me.  Some may not know the whole story, others may not know at all.  Well, it’s time I share the full package.

So here’s the story.

On July 5th, I brought Auggie down to Temecula to spend the weekend with my close friends Chadd & Heather Creed.  After a night of dinner & wine, I went to bed at a fairly reasonable time.  Around 2AM the morning of July 6th, I woke up having a hard time breathing and a heart that felt like it was racing out of control.  For months, I’ve had trouble breathing a condition I suspected to be allergies as it always seemed to clear when I travel.  The racing heart had me concerned though, concerned enough, I woke my friends and had them take me to the ER at Temecula Valley Hospital.  Within an hour of my arrival, I was diagnosed with critically high blood pressure, edema (fluid) in the lungs, and evidence of heart damage.   They admitted me to the hospital and started work on reducing my blood pressure through blood thinners.  During that time, I underwent an ultrasound echocardiogram and a  Cat Lab (a procedure to study the arteries around the heart for any blockage).  Those tests found no arterial blockage but did see buildup from cholesterol.  After four days, my blood pressure was reduced to a “good not great” level and was given a series of prescriptions to help manage blood pressure, my heart condition, and cholesterol until I meet with my primary care doctor and come up with a long term plan.  I went into the hospital on a Saturday morning, released on a Tuesday afternoon.  Was telecommuting from Temecula the next day, drove home on Sunday, and the following Monday I was back at work.

For what it’s worth, I’ve been told I have not had a heart attack, but I remain in a condition where it is still quite likely.  Tests show there is damage to my heart, which now leaves it weaker.  Since leaving the hospital, my blood pressure remains higher than average, but not the levels it was when I was first admitted.  Since leaving the hospital, I have made some life changes, minor at this point.  I am meeting with a new doctor this week and expect that to drive smarter, more significant life changes, so I am just following the prescribed meds and making better choices.  The meds are a challenge, they tend to make me dizzy and unfocused during the late mornings, but that improves by the day.

I’ve reached a point where it’s hard to talk about what happened. Mostly if asked why it happened, the only thing I can say is “I didn’t take care of myself for the last three years” — that’s an uncomfortable thing to tell people, and it’s just as uncomfortable for people to hear.  It’s worse in that mindset of answering what I am going to do about it.  The answer is always: eat better, exercise more, see a doctor, do what they tell you what to do.  I know that answer because I had heard it before, followed it before, been successful with it before, then still ended up where I am.

Then again, I want to do more than I’ve done the last couple of years.  I want to be happier.  I want to see more things.  So, doing the hard stuff is what I am going to have to do.  I’m 47, and I’m not ready to call it quits yet.

I have to say I am utterly grateful for the outpouring to love and support the last couple of weeks.  Phone calls from cousins.  Cards from old friends.  Flowers.  Balloons.  I got back to work and found my dry erase board filled with welcome backs, a lovely desk plant to take care of, and cards of well wishes.   I received so many notes from people on Facebook, I couldn’t even come close to answering them all, or even get started.  It was uplifting, and humbling, to know that wherever I find myself with this condition, I have so many people wanting to help me and support me to climb my way out.

Yet two have to stand out above all the care and love I’ve received.  If there was a blessing in all this, it was where it took place because, from the moment I knocked on their bedroom door and asked for help until even this moment, Chadd & Heather Creed have been my concrete foundation.  Friends, as close as friends as ever could be, let their world shake as they made constant visits to my hospital room, became my conduit to the medical staff, and ensured I was going to come through this.  They were there when we laughed, they were there when I cried.  When I was released from the hospital, there was no question where I was going to stay to recover.  When my parents and brother flew in to be there for me, there was no question where they were going to stay.  They didn’t ask for thanks, they just wanted me to get better.  I can only hope that I can repay the kindness and love they have shown me during this time.

So, that’s the news.  I can’t say for sure how much I will share regarding my health in the future because … well … it’s the kind of touchy feeling stuff I tend not to want to blog about.  I’ll try, though.  That’s what it’s going to be like for the future.  The Lord knows I might fail, but he’ll know that I tried.