Archive for September, 2010

And so it goes…another visit to the cardiologist. It turns out my surgery is scheduled for October 6th. On that day I will receive the latest…the greatest new contraption designed to keep people like me alive, brought to us by “Medtronics”. We talked about the possibility of having to take that horrid medicine with all the bad “long-term” side effects. Forget about it! This new machine doesn’t care that a full 20 to 30 per cent of my heart beats are irregular. It will provide the bi-ventricular pacing straight through all the irregular beats. And, as you will recall, we talked about having an “oblation” to control the irregular heart beats. Remember? Well forget about that too! Like I said, this new device will work regardless of what my heart beats are doing.

So, on October the 6th, I will go into the hospital, be given a “local” anesthetic and some sedation: they will pull the old machine out of me, insert the new machine, TEST the new machine and after just a brief over-nighter, send me on my way. Wait you say. I thought this device was in your shoulder??? Well, it is. If you will recall from a blog months ago, I cannot have general anesthesia. My lungs can’t handle it. The surgery will be alright. That part doesn’t bother me. The only part that gives me cause for some distress is the test that must be done after they install the device. A test you say. Hmmm. They cause my heart to go into ventricular tachycardia, or some other arrhythmia , stand back and see if the device picks up the problem and fixes it. In other words shock me back to normal. I have been asleep for all the previous replacement procedures. I hope they can sedate me enough. That’s all I am saying.

I cannot accurately count how many times I have had surgery. I cannot easily measure the length of scarring I have on my body. I know, with as much conviction as one can muster that the doctors charged with keeping me alive are acting in a manner suitable for keeping me alive. That know matter what the result, that this surgery will not be my last. That being said, I am thankful that Medtronics developed this machine that will allow me to stay alive. To enjoy my family and friends, and to be around for some time to come. We never really know when our time has come. My job is to simply live what life I am blessed to have, and to never take being alive for granted. My new motto: “Every day above ground is a good one”.


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That is what the doctor told me not 3 hours ago. I went to the cardiologist because my heart failure seems to be getting worse. Last week I was hit hard with right-side failure symptoms. I took the required medicine and dropped 10 pounds in thirty hours. Afterwards, my body felt like it was hit by a truck. It was painful just to move a muscle. Any muscle. By Three days later, I was still tired and walking like an old man. Now, nearly a week after I took the pills and lost the weight, the weight is back, and I am in failure…again.

The doctors contribute the problem to a couple of things., First, and foremost, I have a fucked up heart. I wish I could sugar coat this folks, but sometimes blunt and to the point is the best way. I have the bi-ventricular pacemaker and defibrillator, and it works great. It’s brought my hearts’ ejection fraction up to about 20 %. But I am still producing a lot of pvc’s. (Pre-mature Ventricular Contractions) Think of them is out of step heart beats. They always come too soon. They come one at a time, two at a time and in runs of three or more. Having pvc’s limits the effectiveness of the pace maker. I won’t go into detail. It gets far too complicated. For those who know me, call and I will explain it. My pace maker is working at about an 80% effectiveness rate. The doctors think that if they can control the pvc’s they can increase the effectiveness of the pace maker thereby reducing the frequency of my heart failure. Whew. Did you follow that?

Do you remember when I talked about the drug called “Amiodarone”? It is a drug I have often been offered and always rejected. I rejected it because the long-term side effects are liver damage and kidney damage. When the doctor told Denise and I that they really want me on Amiodarone I brought up the side effects issue. He said, (and I am paraphrasing) “Brian, you are in end stage heart failure. You are not likely to live 5 years.. We have a drug we think might make you more comfortable for now. We are past the point of worrying about long-term side effects. Brian, Denise….Do you understand? You wont be alive long enough to worry about long-term side effects”. As my wife sat there…stunned, I agreed with the doctor.

Strange, isn’t it? Ever wonder how many ways doctors have to tell a person they are dying?

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