Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Just a heart transplant

Good News!!!!!!!!!!!! The liver findings were excellent. The hepatologist has granted me a clean bill of health regarding my liver. No indications of portal hypertension or cardiac cirhosis. This IS great news for all concerned. My wife and I were discussing the meaning of these findings and a phrase caught my attention. "At least we just have a heart transplant to worry about." This is one of those sentences you would never have imagined hearing or saying, yet it was completely appropriate. Still it strikes me as funny and makes me think of contemporary paralels. At least we only got 41 inches of snow, at least gas prices have come down, at least I am not the only one who lost my retirement fund...add personal reference here...
Now we will go back to the original plan of replacing my defibrulator and adding a lead for atrial pacing. This should allow the Drs to increase my heart rate and hopefully increase my energy levels. We will probably get that scheduled before the end of April and I am hopeful that we are on a winning streak. More good news and a successful outcome will be welcome.
More to come...
Be good to each other,

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Who ordered the liver?

Ok. Things are starting to "normalize" again, for my version of reality. I have been thru a couple wild weeks and there is no sign of stopping just yet.

I met with a hepatologist because of an enlarged liver caught on a CT scan. A few blood tests and an appointment that ends with me needing a new liver in addition to a heart due to portal hypertension and cardiac cirhosis is the result. Not what I was looking for. Based on exam etc and the preliminary diagnosis a liver biopsy is scheduled. The biopsy will be the gold standard of proof. The procedure is set to be performed trans-jugular with minimal sedation. The goal is to measure the pressures within the veins near and in the liver and to take some biopsy samples for pathology to examine.

Right after mybiopsy procedure was done, the team reported that they found no portal hypertension or irregular pressures in the veins. This is the finding we wanted and is as positive an outcome as we could ask for to this point. Now we wait for the good news to continue regarding the biopsy findings.

Should things fall my way, I will continue discussions about replacing my defibrulator with a more effective pacemaker. That would require a different surgery to place the new device and add an atrial lead into my heart. Wouldn't be fun without some more surgery.. Woo Hoo!!!

Bright side- the heart transplant team has changed the screening protocols to account for the potential cardiac cirhosis in patients with right heart failure including retroactive exams on patients currently in the program. This "second look" has already identified one patient who will benefit from the further scrutiny and will provide an opportunity that may have presented a huge obstacle in his treatment.

More to come!!

Be good to each other.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Culprit

In all things, moderation...

I must report I spent a long and test-filled day in the Emergency Room on Monday. It all started Sunday, I was having alot of pain in the shoulders and chest and difficulty breathing. Having suffered the odd spontaneous collapsed lung in my past, everything pointed to that. I remembered that each time I had one of these, I did not get any treatment, like a chest tube, because it was less than 25% collapsed. I figured it would reinflate and the pain would go away if I let it. Wow, was I wrong!! I could not find a comfortable position in bed and slept only a couple hours Sunday nite. At 4, I gave up trying and decided to go out to the living room and sit up on the couch. The pain was less when I would be more upright. I had taken some non-aspirin for the pain and it did not touch it. When I leaned forward to pick up my soda and felt like I would pass out from the pain, I decided this was more serious than I thought. My wife had joined me in the living room and had that concerned look on her face. She suggested the ER and I said not yet. About 15 minutes later I gave in and said let's go.

Based on my symtoms and the fact that I am on the transplant list we started the battery of tests to make sure that this was not related to my cardiac condition. The bloodwork, Xrays, Ultrasound and EKG all proved that it was not. This is a good thing, or is it? The tests told me what it was not, but not what it was. It was suggested that it may be muscular or skelatal pain. The Drs asked if I had done anything unusual or recalled any possible injury over the past couple days. The only answer I had was that I had been working on a cross-stitch almost all my waking hours for the past 3 days. Now that seems somewhat remote, but I was in the same position using the same muscles and doing repetative movements for hours at a time. They also suggested that it could be a virus in the muscles or joints that may be causing the pain. I cling to the virus diagnosis with all I have to retain the slightest bit of dignity.

I left the hospital after 14 hours with 2 percocets in me, a perscrition for 20 more and the wry advice from my Dr not to cross stitch for a couple days. I have not, and the pain has gone away. So remember, my gentle reader, warm up before you start stitching and all things, in moderation. A couple comical thoughts come to mind in retrospect: How old do you feel when you have a cross-stitch related hospital visit? Is this cause for a new type of "fear of needles?" Are we going to need warning labels sewing needle packages? Do I have a legal case for damages? When is the insurance industry going to address the situation?

Enough fun for now..
Keep smiling and be good to each other!!