Originally posted February 17, 2011
February is Toritto heart month!
It was time to see my cardiologist again. I was originally scheduled for our semi-annual get-to-gether three or four months ago but "things" happen.
The original appointment was cancelled since Toritto was passing a kidney stone ("it’s small but its got sharp edges"). For those who haven’t had the pleasure let me say that the pain can only be described as exquisite. A masochist’s dream. Got bottles of pain pills I can probably sell for $20 a pill!
That particular month was spent on multiple visits to my new urologist. Another doctor on the payroll. Hey we all have kids to put through college or boat payments to make. He did a nice work-up, cystoscope included.
I must say cystoscopes have improved immensely since the last one I had when I was 27. I remember feet in the stirrups and my junk being skewered on a tube about the size of a fat pencil while the doc peered through it with his camera and lights and pumped my bladder full of water for a really good look see. A regular Hollywood production. Much easier today.
After getting a pass from the urologist it was time for my daughter’s wedding.
After returning home I went blind for a couple of weeks. Bleeding into the vitreous - in both eyes - at once. Total darkness. Cancelled my appointment with the cardiologist again and made an emergency visit to the ophthalmologist. Diabetic retinopathy. Four laser surgeries later and weeks of sleeping sitting upright in a chair with the cat and Toritto can see again. Yaah!
Time to visit the cardiologist.
Toritto slept through his myocardial infarction (read heart attack) in 1995. Had a nice dinner of spicy chicken with the wife and kids. Went to bed. Made love.
As I was drifting into slumber land I felt this sensation in the middle of my chest. Not terribly painful. It was different. Never felt anything like it before. Small. I could put my fnger tip on it. No massive chest pain. No elephant sitting on me. No one stomping on my arm.
"What’s that?" wonders Toritto. Must be the chicken.
Slept all night and got up when the clock went off. It was time for work. I felt like crap. Upset stomach. (That damn chicken!) But also a low grade fever and body aches. Weak. I must be getting the flu. Take a shot of Pepto.
I was working temporarily in Hackensack - a 50 mile drive each way on the Garden State Parkway and the Turnpike through the lovliest parts of Jersey. Usually undertaken by the "regulars" at 80 m.p.h. or so right on the bumper of the slowpoke ahead while drinking cofffee and reading the W.S.J. placed strategically on the steering wheel. Not all of us had phones yet. Good thing.
Put a day in at the office. Feeling worse. Left around 4. "I’m not feeling good boss; I’m going home". Took to the couch. Called my regular doctor.
"Yea, that bug is going around!" says he.
By Saturday morning I can’t breathe. Must be pnumonia. Off to the emergency room.
"You had a heart atack about 4 or 5 days ago!". My wife now looks worse than Toritto. I guess she's thinking about the dead man in her bed not shutting off the alarm or the Grim Reaper administering the coup d'grace in a newsmaking high speeder on the Pike.
"I didn’t have any chest pain!" Ignorant silly me. I was condescendingly informed I had a silent heart attack. Now they tell me.
I told my wife it wasn't her chicken - it was just that she was so damn good in bed. She took no chances. She never made the chicken again.
Off to the cardiac unit.
I watch my heart beating during the catherization. Seems there is a tiny little, hard to reach blocked blood vessel. Should we try to fix it? Would it do any good?
I need a P. E. T. Scan, which looks for metabolic activity, living cells beyond the blockage.
I heard it in my head: "That’s what I call dead!" A dead zone.
Fixing it wouldn't do any good and was too risky. So no stents. No surgery. Pills. Live with it. I had to give up training for the 10,000 meters.
Fifteen years plus later I’m still walking around and blogging on O/S with maybe three quarters of normal pumping power.
It was time to see my cardiologist. I call him "my" because he is also on the payroll.
First time I met him he was a big surprise. German name. Very German. Except he was raised in Ireland. His family got out after the war. He opens his mouth and it sounds like County Cork (not that Toritto knows where in Ireland that is or what it sounds like!). While I was there I asked him how to say "Padraig".
"You haven’t had a complete work-up since 2008 Toritto. Let’s do it all!"
So one visit turns into five: a carotid artery ultrasound, an EKG, an echo cardiogram, a final review visit and of course the dreaded stress test.
"Do you still have Medicare and that supplemental policy?" Oh yes.
I know I’ve graduated to the old timers now since I don’t have to run on the treadmill anymore. I get a chemical stress test. Much easier.
At the end of the month he and I will have our review and heart month will be over. It will be time to see the eye doc again. March will be Toritto eye month.
Next time I can tell you about my stroke.
It’s what us old people do - O/S just allows us to tell everyone!