The discouraging thing is that although I’ve been off-line for the last few days, the world just went on spinning without me.
I have been having some health issues this winter. These included a swollen leg, shortness of breath that made sleep difficult, and a heart that pounded like a Tyrannosaurus-sized bongo drum with the least exertion. It was a challenge to put on my shoes ... or even point a remote at the TV. All of these signs pointed to an obvious diagnosis: Congestive Heart Failure.
So I saw a doctor. She listened to parts of my anatomy gurgle and burp and said CHF was likely, but also I had one lung full of water! She wrote me a prescription for a diuretic and told me to fill it and take one immediately. She also booked me into St. Joseph Hospital for an ultrasound scan and EKG.
So I took the pill, and what do you know? I felt better that night, and got a proper night's sleep for the first time in ages.
I kept the appointment at St. Joe's a couple of days later, and they told me that the membrane that encloses my heart – called the pericardium – was also full of water, and its pressure on my heart was what was causing it to labour with such difficulty. There wasn't much wrong with the ticker itself.
More appointments were booked for further examination. They were on the same day in fact, the first one for an additional ultrasound of my chest and then another with my GP that afternoon. I never made it to the second appointment. A cardiologist appeared after the ultrasound and said I wasn't going anywhere. He was finding me a bed at St. Joe and I was going to remain there under observation.
Naturally, I wasn't expecting this, and wasn't prepared in the least. When I took stock of the situation, though, I wasn't as badly off as I might have been. I had pocketed some money do some later shopping, had a book with me, and always kept a card with important phone numbers in my wallet. I had turned all the lights off at home before I left, and no longer had a cat to care for. Everything was more or less copacetic!
The next few days were, in a way, a welcome change of pace … although I spent a lot of that time having sharp things stuck in me, and vital juices sucked out. My usual round of meds were adjusted as well, for reasons not then apparent to me.
I started calling friends the first evening, and next day got one of them, who lived reasonably close, to come by for my apartment keys and bring me back a load of necessary stuff: fresh undies, my portable drawing board set, pens and pencils, a docket of unfinished work to complete, my reading glasses, more books, my fuzzy slippers, this, that, and the other thing … and finally a USB memory stick.
Also on Day Two, one of my other friends brought over an old laptop running XP, which I knew how to use. The idea was that I could use it to connect to FaceBook and FurAffinity. E-mail was out, however, since I had no portable source of addies. Unfortunately, we were unable to connect with the hospital's WiFi service, so that idea had to be abandoned. I was able to listen to music on my USB stick, though, and on Day Three I began writing a journal that I saved to the stick for later completion. The laptop wasn't a total loss, by any means.
When Day Four began, the novelty was beginning to wear thin. Still being in hospital and not having any idea when I’d be released was no longer an agreeable “change of pace,” but was instead becoming a drag. I was served cream of fucking wheat for breakfast … again. I have more appetite for garden slugs than cream of wheat. But unexpectedly, the cardiologist sent me down for one last ultrasound to make certain that the swollen leg wasn’t due to an arterial blockage. It wasn’t, so he said I could go home that day!
I was feeling far better by then. The diuretic I had been put on had drawn the fluids out of my lung, and the pounding in my chest had become a dim memory. I could walk all the way across the cardiac care unit and use the bathroom all by myself, and walk all the way back. Since I still suffer from Myasthenia Gravis, that’s as normal as I’m ever likely to be again. The doctor had taken me off a medication for high blood pressure, though. It had been prescribed to me ages ago my first doctor, a negligent quack who viewed his profession as an easy way to make a good living from helpless patients. I won’t go into a list of his high crimes and misdemeanors – enough to say that he added other medications to the first, but never took me off it. Years later, I paid for it. At St. Joe I had stopped taking it, and my blood pressure did not rise at all. The other meds had it under complete control, and the original prescription was utterly unnecessary. Worse, it had side effects – it caused fluid retention, i.e. edema. Very likely Dr. Quack’s prescription of a superfluous drug had led directly to my leg bloating up, my difficulty breathing and mild CHF.
The drug can also cause spurious muscle pains … another minor complaint from which I’ve been suffering, and which had been chalked up as “neuropathic” in origin. (That is, there was nerve damage but no clear cause.) It’s possible that the nuisance of spasming leg muscles and strange transient aches will also disappear over time.
So now I’m home again, feeling better than I have since before Christmas, taking fewer drugs … and those I still take actually do me some good. My ticker is just fine!
Not bad for a Friday the Thirteenth!