“Sometimes when we touch….”
Touch can be a warm hug from a dear friend or an electrifying kiss, but it is not always physical. You can be touched by things that don’t even involve you; like a disaster in another province. You can be touched by a look; like my sons’ eyes when I explained what has been happening with me. You can be touched by words; as the numerous emails I have received from friends and strangers. And perhaps this blog entry will touch someone and make a difference in their life.
If you are squeamish or have a weak stomach, you may not want to continue reading.
July 21, 2009
Cory and I celebrate our second wedding anniversary. We have a great barbeque and exchange gifts. He gives me an aromatherapy neck bag. Very thoughtful, as I seem to be plagued with headaches and a sore neck from too many hours at the computer. I give him a book published in 1920, “The private letters of Sir Robert Peel”; Conservative Prime Minister of the UK in the early 1800’s.
July 22, @ 3:00 AM
I awoke to a mouth full of blood. Of course I ran to the bathroom to vomit. I was barely able to formulate the thought that I must be bleeding internally, only to realize blood was streaming from both nostrils. I tried for 15 minutes to get it to stop and decided to wake Cory up. After another 15 minutes, he declared he was bringing me to the hospital. Later we would marvel at how I did not spill one drop from the bedroom to the bathroom, yet the bathroom looked like a slaughter house floor.
At the hospital they have me take a seat right in the triage office and affixed a massive clothespin on my nose. Then started taking my vitals and had the admitting clerk come into the triage area to obtain my personal information. Cory was still parking the car at this point, which gives you an idea of just how quickly I was attended to.
The questions start, all pretty straight forward until… “How long have you had high blood pressure?” My response, “Never. I have low blood pressure.” Nurse: “Not tonight you don’t”. They move me to a treatment room in the emergency section, good thing I can’t lay down as all the beds appear to be full.
Over the next 30-45 minutes they monitor my blood pressure, which remains high. I now have an ice pack on my neck. With my nose blocked the blood runs down my throat and is clotting so I continue to throw up globs of semi-congealed blood. The doctor explains the procedure of chemically cauterizing the rupture in my nasal passage. The first image that pops into my head is the scene from Fight Club when he burns the back of his hand with acid. As he takes out the nasal forceps yet another movie pops into my head…Total Recall. Go figure, my nose is a flexible as Arnie’s.
The doctor explains that in his opinion, I am very lucky to have just a nose bleed and that this could have just as easily been a stroke or brain aneurysm. He suggests I stay so they can run a few more tests. I balk at this (at this point, I am still doubting the seriousness) and he relents so long as I agree to see my regular doctor later in the day. Agreed.
We are back at home. I send a quick email to the board and Heather, (my office administrator) letting them know I will be taking the day off. Cory cleans up the slaughter house bathroom and I try to get some sleep.
Call my doctors office, he is not in but we decide to go anyway and see another through the walk-in clinic in the same office. I can’t shake the words from the emergency doctor, so I start to do my own research and I start to have a better understanding. Though it will still be sometime before I admit there could be anything “really” wrong with me.
The walk-in doctor didn’t ask too many questions and said my blood pressure was pretty much normal. Though he did note from my history, it could be seen as being on the high side. He felt my nose bleed was likely due to the dry air in Calgary and nothing to be concerned about. All the same, keep an eye on your blood pressure. I took it upon myself to book a follow up with my own doctor the following week.
Over the next five days I went to my local Shoppers Drug Mart, took my blood pressure and recorded it in a book. It was different every day, one day even normal. Aside from that though, it was consistently high (averaging 147 over 107). During that time I did not “feel” sick. In fact, I didn’t feel much different than I had prior to the nosebleed.
“…The honesty’s too much…”
Honesty, like touch can take many forms. It can make you laugh, cry, it can be surprise you in a delightful way or it can shock you and scare the hell out of you.
I have another bad nosebleed in the morning, but am able to get it to stop and attend my afternoon appointment with my doctor. From my research and the questions he asks, I now start to face the fact that there’s more to this picture than just a nosebleed. For a few months now I have been having trouble focusing my vision first thing in the morning. Not every day, but enough for it to be annoying to me. Also, Cory and I have now recalled an incident that happened about a month ago, where I suffered extreme chest pain. It was a crushing pressure, like a tight squeeze. At the time, I put these off as insignificant, odd occurrences’. I share these with the doctor along with the record of my blood pressure readings.
He promptly sends me for blood tests and an EKG (why do they call it that when there is no K in it?) and tells me to return with a copy from the lab. I check in at the lab and they take me in right way, no waiting despite other people in the room. (I wonder just what the heck my doctor wrote on the form, the only legible part was ASAP). I walk back to the Docs office with a copy of my EKG in a brown envelope, I am very tempted to open it and look. But I honestly, I would have no clue what I was looking at, so I refrain.
The doctor reviews the EKG and says it has some “irregularities”, nothing serious he assures me. All the same he would like to get a chest x-ray done. Off I go again, requisition form in hand, down the mall to x-ray. Here I have to wait. I get a bit of a chuckle about all the “Turn off you cell” signs as the girl behind the desk answers a ringing phone…..her cell. Within the half hour I am returning to my Doc’s office with another tempting envelop in my hand, again I decline to look. It’s like a bad dream, I thought what if the x-ray showed my heart with a “best before date” and that date was already past.
I wait while the Doc reviews it. I am hoping he comes back with a verdict, then again I’m not. And that’s sort of what I get, a half answer. He tells me he has booked me an appointment with a cardiologist. Umm, ok, why? “Well your heart is enlarged.” He explains this could be a number of things. Most likely, the high blood pressure or less likely a tumor. He also strongly believes the episode of chest pain I had a month ago was in all probability a mild heart attack. He gives me a prescription to lower my blood pressure; books more blood work (to check for kidney damage) and a follow up appointment. In a nutshell, I have Stage 2 hypertension and in a very high risk category for a heart attack or stroke.
Then I get read the riot act, which I have heard before and knew it was coming.
You drink too much coffee; cut back.
You use too much salt; cut back.
You don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables; eat more of these.
You smoke; STOP. (This one changed a bit, he used just say, cut back)
You are overweight; start some sort of exercise, mild exercise for now. (Geez, he used to be more diplomatic about this one too)
I think this was more my day of awakening than any of the others. It starts to sink in; deep. I can’t help but think, this is so typical and you hear it all the time. Where people get everything “right” in their life; only to be taken from this world. I have found the love of my life, my kids are grown and on their own, I have a wonderful grandson and a career I thoroughly love; what more could I ask for? Apparently, I could ask for another 20 years to enjoy it all.
Cory and I talk about “what if’s”. The “what if I die” seems a whole lot easier than the “what if I don’t”. If I die; he will move on with his life. Will he find another? “Yes”, he says. I am ok with that, hell I even expect it. He’s young. In fact my sister has offered to take very good care of him. LOL
What if I am suffer a severe stroke or have a blood clot in my brain? What if I am either mentally or physically incapacitated, but not dead? Would you move on then? “Yes”, he says. Ouch. Score another one for honesty. He goes onto explain, if the situation was reversed he would want me to move on. This was days ago, I am still processing it.
The past week I have had a nosebleed every day, sometimes twice; but they are lessening. My blood pressure has come down marginally.
I have reduced my caffeine intake to one cup of coffee in the morning. If I have other coffees in the day, they are decaf.
Cory has been working very diligently on reducing the salt in our meals and I am eating more fruit and veggies.
We are going for walks every day now.
The smoking is by far the most difficult. I was smoking close to a pack (24) a day. I have it down to 10 a day now.
I have a follow up with my doctor this week, and then see the cardiologist next week. In the in between time I will be attending my son’s wedding and being thankful for YouTube so I can enjoy my grandson Taelon's laughter from halfway around the world.