Thursday, March 10, 2016

Medical...bleah

When we left off in April, I was about to get the lower half of my aorta stented to reinforce its damaged lower end from a little below the diaphragm all the way down to the branch that leads to the femoral arteries and other piping below the navel.

No complications from that, other than losing all the improvements I'd made since the upper half was lined. Everything--the improved circulation in my lower legs that saw me lose a few pounds' worth of water weight, saw the swelling in my left shin and calf almost vanish in a matter of a few weeks (MASSIVE difference), had me walking better and feeling better for the first time in years.

Gone.

I was assured by the vascular doc's nurse that there wasn't a vascular problem.

Except that...there WAS. How else to explain a sudden reversal that immediately followed the second surgery?

Jet forward to this morning, when my new vascular doc (old doc moved to Texas) asked some questions about medical tests I'd had, the symptoms I'm having, and his answer was basically "We need to get you tested; this sounds like a vascular problem."

Imagine that.

He figures that one or both of the two big veins coming up from my legs and joining the Big Vein headed up to the heart might be pinched where the aorta branches to the legs. Makes sense to me: both of  the iliac branches are stented now, which stiffened them up and could be pressing against--and pinching--the veins against my spine, inhibiting return blood flow.

That is vascular.

So now I'm waiting to get scheduled for an internal ultrasound; a needle goes into a convenient vessel headed in a convenient direction. Needle's got a little ultrasound transducer. Doc can basically scan the length of both of the veins at that possible pinch point. If there's a pinch, he can throw a stent in to open the restricted area and get my tired-ass blood flowing again.

Tomorrow, dammit, I want it tomorrow. I'd settle for NOW.

This shit's old. Very old. I've gone almost a year with so little energy that I basically sit up on the edge of my bed and surf the Web on my old laptop because moving over to the desktop computer is too much. The laptop's so out of date (running Ubuntu Linux Heron from '08; can't even upgrade the copy of Firefox that's on it, can't install another browser) that in the course of the last 6 months it stopped being able to load Facebook, Twitter and Blogger. I end up reading a few political and news blogs and a few Reddit pages (AskReddit is usually entertaining), wear myself out, and go back to sleep for another couple of hours. I get over to the desktop every few days to handle email and all that. Today's one of those days.

I haven't had a solid 8 hours' sleep since the night before my aorta crapped itself in July of 2010. It's usually somewhere from 2 to 4 hours, wake up for several, and repeat. I'm getting REM sleep, but I don't know how the interruptions are affecting things.

The one thing I DID accomplish was eliminating my migraines. This is almost worth all the other crap and all it took was one of the meds I was already using. I stopped it for a few months to see if it would help with all the swollen leg and fluid-retention stuff. Nope, no effect there--but the gawdawful weekly migraines I'd been tormented by before Aorta Day came back with a vengeance. I was back to having my room utterly blacked out, no sound, no TV, no moving, no lying down. I was practically mainlining BC Powders, the only thing that would touch those headaches from hell.

Then I saw or read something about blood flow along the under side of the brain having something to do with migraines. I went back on those meds to see if there might be a connection. Three months along, the headaches are gone. I'd dance, but I'm too tired.

***

I don't really have an ending, here, other than being hopeful that I can finally get my legs back in order. I haven't been to a fort since 2011. I'm not counting Fort Point in San Francisco, since it was CLOSED. Not counting Fort Pike in Louisiana, either, since it was not only CLOSED but fenced the hell in to protect it from generating any tourism money for the state.

Taking my grumpy ass to bed. :p

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Women & Blacks & Hank!, oh my...

Every once in awhile I wonder how Hank! is doing without my stepfather around to pull his nuts out of the fire. Has he learned to take responsibility for himself? Or has he found someone else to protect him from the consequences of his actions?

Back in the late '70s, Hank! was busted for shoplifting. He was caught with socks in his back pocket.

Socks. He stole socks?!

Well, I'm one to mock...I got busted stealing a freaking dollar penlight. Without batteries.

The store manager called the cops and the Old Man, who went to the store and did a little song and dance--not the first, not the last--to get his boy off the hook. Can't have him going to jail or having a record or having to pay for his crime.

Maybe somewhere there's a list. Just for the sake of blogging, I wish I'd made up a scorecard, but I stayed away from Hank! as much as possible. Guy's a dick. He went from being a shoplifting dick to a drinking dick to a drunk-driving dick to a paranoid psychotic drunk-driving dick who walked along the right-of-way in front of his mother's house holding either a shotgun or a rifle. Screamed at passers-by to get off his street. People out for a walk would cross the street before passing that house.

The neighborhood adored him.

Then--early '90s--he became a drunk-driving dick who had a car wreck that landed him in jail. There were injuries. He was facing 30 days in jail. Actual consequences loomed in his future!

...and step-pops pulled some Fred Astaire magic, that old song and dance, and Hank! ended up with 6 months' house arrest instead. In our house.

If I didn't like Hank!, my mother loathed and feared him, especially after he pushed her into a wall because she was in his way. The Old Man took Hank!'s shotgun and rifle away, so Hank! wandered around the yard with a sledgehammer instead. I hid it, so he toted a jack handle instead.

The neighborhood--different neighborhood--adored him, especially with his racist screaming at the black family next door and his more mundane screaming at the white folks.

His own mother stopped letting him stay with her, so he bounced from our house to his siter's to his son's and back, never actually welcome, only endured.

I learned something the day the old man danced to get Hank! house arrest instead of jail.

I learned that "women and n*ggers" were responsible for Hank!'s plight.

The Old Man came home from the court hearing ranting that "one day I'm going to make it my business to get even with all the women and n*ggers!"

Amazing!

The past few weeks, I've amused myself wondering what the mechanism for this vast conspiracy against poor, much-maligned Hank! might be, and which group, for example, bears responsibility for which problems in Hank!'s life.

Was it the women, the blacks, or both who forced Hank! to drink?

Which group made him drive? Was it women who engineered the traffic "accident" that brought down this mighty Titan? Black people who conspired to get him arrested yet again?

Thunderstorm kills the TV? WOMEN!

Sportsball team loses the game? BLACKS! GAWDAMMIT!



I don't really have an ending for this post, other than to say I'm glad I don't share blood with him. I can't get too smug about that, though, since I did a little digging into my birth family and found one habitual offender who could well be the Hank! of that family. Felony battery, burglary, criminal mischief, larceny, prison time, five different mug shots since 2003. Makes Hank! look like an amateur.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Medical Woohoo!, continued


Well, actually a bit of "non-woohoo" first: I had a CT scan on my aorta 4 weeks ago. They found a small leak around the upper end of the stent. I'm going in on April 6 to get the stents reinforced--almost a repeat of January's surgery.

Joy.

On the up-side, not only have I not regained any of the fluid weight that drained out of my leg while I healed up from that last surgery, both legs are emptying themselves of excess fluid the way they're supposed to thanks to the much-improved blood flow to my kidney and other innards. My legs are starting to look normal for the first time in years. Where I used to wear an 8-1/2 shoe before all the medical stuff started, I was stuck with cheap canvas size 12/13 shoes from the dollar store because no one else had anything I could stuff a hoof into. I've lost maybe 3 sizes on the right, 2 on the left. My lower legs are amazingly smaller.

Ten pounds total so far.

I've walked farther and better in the last three months than I've managed in nearly five years. First there was the 15 minutes spent at Lowe's getting a new bedroom door and doing it alone. Yeah, I got help loading the door onto a cart, but loaded it in the car, unloaded it at home, and maneuvered it into the house on my own without much trouble.

Haven't installed it yet. Got the flu a few days later, kept that for about a week, and haven't really felt like doing a damned thing since.

Still tiring easily, but not as badly as before.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Medical "woohoo!"


I'm all healed up from the two surgeries to reroute some pipes and shore up the inside of my aorta.

Gotta say, I'm feeling better than I have in a long time. Where I couldn't even take a shower without breaking it into stages with rest stops (room to bathroom, sit & rest, shower quickly, sit & rest, bathroom to bedroom...about 30 minutes), a few days ago I did it all in one round without sitting or huffing & puffing, all in about 15 minutes.

I made the 500 foot walk to a friend's house without having to stop and recover. Didn't crash onto the couch, either--though I did have to catch my breath.

My kidney doctor says my protein levels are much better, my other numbers very good, and he'll see me in a year.

My blood pressure is the lowest I've ever seen it. Still runs a bit high on the top number, but the bottom number is almost always below 100 instead of running between 105-118 all the time.

Say it, Homer:


Friday, January 30, 2015

Medical blah blah blah...


Been a rough three weeks since Jan. 5th's stent surgery.

The surgery itself went without any troubles. The recovery, though, has been a pain in the ass.

Incision's healing up nicely. Staples came out on the 22nd. I had about 2 weeks of "reflected" pain across my shoulder blades caused by the aortic aneurysm reacting to being bypassed by the stents. Percocet took care of that.

The major complication? Ever since the original aortic tear in 2010 and my bad kidney removal in 2011, this body of mine became a freaking sponge and collected about 100 pounds of water weight, especially around my waist and down both legs. Ever since the evening of Jan. 6th, when I tried to bandage the incision site right at the top of my right thigh, I started leaking like a sieve from there.

I ended up in the Emergency Room with a fever and got sent to Interventional Radiology to have a drain put in. I've got a 4th session with them this afternoon to see how things are progressing. They've treated the site with ethanol and Betadine to scar up and close off the lymph channel that's pushing all that fluid up into the incision area. The upshot of this is that I carry a collection bag, keep the incision clean, and hope that the next session will finish this off.

I have drained 6 quarts of "cellular fluid" (lymph?) since Jan. 6. Six freaking quarts. Fortunately most of that has been managed by the drain and baggies, so I'm not washing a dozen towels at a time trying to keep ahead of this crap.

The fluid loss comes up to about 8 pounds. Take THAT, Weight Watchers.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

More Med Update


T-6 days to deployment...

Here's a neat vid of the "AAA" stent/endovascular aneurysm repair I'm scheduled for. Liking the spacey-sounding terminology--they "deploy" the stents and anchor them. The stents look like cat hairballs on a stick before they're launched, though.

 Some surgical squick, though, for the squeamish...

Minimally-Invasive Repair of Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm


MUCH better than the aortic-replacement surgery shown at the beginning of the video, with as much as 10 weeks of recovery.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-

In the meantime, the subclavian-carotid bypass went very cleanly and recovery has been speedy. The doc used medical Superglue instead of sutures or staples, so I've been spared wound care.