Boy! You come up with what you think is a cool title, and some guy named Tony Robbins is using it for his latest lecture series. Sad, but one must do the best one can with the tools he is given. So, I will soldier on in the hopes my use of the term will make sense, even if it does not help you find your purpose in life!
Okay! Sarcasm aside, I am writing today to share a story I hope you will find interesting and helpful. It is my little story and does lead to a date with destiny of sorts. That date was October 19, 2018, and the destiny part included an ice cold operating room, a cardiac surgeon, and one of those afternoons everyone would rather avoid.
This little saga started several years ago with a medical diagnosis that was more confusing than unsettling. My heart, yes, I do have a heart though some of my former subordinates often wondered about it, was never normal. By that I mean one section of it was somewhat enlarged and tortuous, and a regular heartbeat was pretty much not in its repertory. Perhaps that is one reason I winced whenever someone broke into Ella Fitzgerald’s “I’ve Got Rhythm.”
Suddenly, I found out I had another irregularity. Something called AFib joined with my long-standing premature ventricular contractions to confuse my doctors and complicate my life. The funny thing was, I had no idea. I did not feel bad. I worked out five to six days a week, had plenty of energy, and no symptoms to indicate something was wrong. I thought I was, except for being overweight, the picture of health. Well, my doctors torpedoed that self-image pretty quickly.
To be fair to the doctors and to save a bit of time, I will not detail the next few years. Let’s just say my faith in the medical profession was tested. I found myself over medicated and undergoing risky procedures that were of little or no help.
Finally, I was left with two poor choices. The first was to take a boatload of medication. The problem with this choice was the medication made me feel somewhat like a zombie, reduced my stamina to the point any form of workout was draining and lowered my heart rate to the point I was in danger of passing out without warning. The other option was to carry on as before with an increased risk of stroke. I decided on another strategy.
I decided it was time to fire my docs, at least the heart doc, and find some new ones. Amazingly, when I broached this subject with my primary care doctor, and he spoke with the cardiologist another alternative was discovered.
To be clear, the new alternative was not one I particularly liked. I did, however, agree to consider it when my cardiologist agreed additional and more extensive testing concerning my condition was in order. After the testing, he admitted a mistake had been made, and my situation could be treated differently. It was not one that appealed to me, but after a good deal of research and discussion, I agreed.
The next step led me to a gurney in a frigid operating room trying to entertain the nurses, anesthetist, and doctor with my gallows humor. Yes, I am one of those guys. I like to impress those around me with coolness under fire. Some will argue people like me make jokes at times like these to alleviate their fears. I think of it differently.
I have been in plenty of tense situations over the decades. Due to my experiences, I came to believe a little levity lets those around me know I am at least somewhat in control of myself. Also, if they are stressed, it might help them a bit to at least chuckle at the poor slob trying to impress them. It seemed to work again, as I did get one nurse to give me what I thought was a real laugh, not just a let’s humor him chuckle.
Since I would be at least partially conscious for much of the procedure, the nurse needed to block my view of the proceedings. This was done by placing a frame and surgical drape over my face and head. The surgical team could keep an eye on me, without me seeing any squirting blood or worried looks on anyone’s face.
The nurse working on the screening made several adjustments to the draping before the procedure started. Finally, she asked if I was comfortable with the arrangement. I replied, “I’m great as long as you don’t start pouring water over it.” She actually laughed when she replied, “No waterboarding today.”
I was groggy, but awake for much of the surgery. It was not my first time to undergo surgery where one can feel sensations are associated with actions that should hurt, or hurt a lot more. I did experience some pain with this surgery, but not enough to ask for more anesthesia. I just wanted it finished.
To wrap this up, I left the OR with a brand spanking new, state of the art pacemaker. I also left it with a whole list of new medications I really did not want to take, but the extra tests and research I had done confirmed the doctor’s final diagnosis. The pacemaker would keep my heart from slowing to the point of unconsciousness, or worse, and the medications would deal with the irregularities in my rhythm.
I could tell there was an improvement in my condition by the next afternoon. I had just undergone surgery, had a very sore shoulder and chest, but felt better than the day before the surgery. Today, a month after the surgery, my heart is staying in rhythm, I am back to working out almost every day, and my measurable fitness or workout level is approaching the marks I hit last year.
All right! So much for sharing my little saga and having a bit of fun. Here is why I wrote this piece. I wrote it to tell anyone who is interested a couple of things. First, you are responsible for your life and well being, not your doctor. I was not happy with the treatment I was receiving from my cardiologist for a couple of years, but I stuck with it because my primary care doctor supported him. They are both great doctors, but even great doctors make mistakes. I finally decided I was going to seek another opinion and that started the ball rolling to resolving my issue.
Second, don’t just run off on the advice of a friend or anyone else and get a second opinion. I almost did that, and I firmly believe that would have been a mistake. If you have a good relationship with your primary care doctor give him or her a chance to help you sort this out. You can handle it any way that is comfortable for you, but I believe documentation is important.
I wrote a memo to my primary care doctor detailing my concerns, complaints, and questions. He used that to get my cardiologist’s attention. Today I have a good relationship with two doctors I have worked with for years. I am not building a relationship with a new cardiologist and possibly a new primary care doctor.
Also, I wrote this to get back in gear on writing. I let my heart issue, and some other matters interfere with writing. I am working on a major writing project, but I have many shorter pieces started I would like to finish and share. Let’s see if I can make that happen.
I have a great deal to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. I am confident you have as well. So, Happy Thanksgiving! May you have a blessed Christmas and New Year as well.
Thanks for reading.
© OneOldCop – 2018