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Posts Tagged ‘surgery’

In 2007, I faced mortality when I had emergency heart surgery and stayed in intensive care for six days.  This post is about a woman learning to be a vegan, and not for altruistic reasons either.  I wish I was that altruistic. A little back story is in order here.

I have this theory:  Two people with intense medical histories should not procreate.  I am the product of a family with cancer and a family with cancer and heart disease:  A double whammy.  I have been fortunate, through the intervention of the medical establishment who has managed to remove just about every non-essential or redundant organ in my body, to have dodged the cancer bullet.   

My brother died at age 46 from non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.  He did not believe in going to the doctor and waited for three months after he found a lump.  That, and five direct ancestors and three not-direct-line relatives, and an HMO, took his life.

In 2005, I watched as my mother deteriorated from heart disease.  She survived breast cancer but had/has congestive heart failure and all of her heart valves were/are leaking.  I said, “not me” and began a program of alternating aerobics and weight lifting.  Me, whose mother told me “ladies don’t sweat,” who was always picked last for any sport in gym, who was winded from walking up the library stairs, I was now loving weight lifting.

In 2005 and for nine months, I watched my diet and exercised.  I lost two dress sizes and not a single bleeding pound.  Yes, muscle does weigh more than fat, apparently.  I could now run up the library stairs without a thought though.  I beat it.  I would not suffer what my mother was.  I would be in great health.  Then, I woke up one morning exhausted. 

It progressed for two years until the aforementioned heart surgery.  Sorry, guess it was a lot of back story, but here we are.  Fast forward to early 2010.  I am eating good enough that I have lost thirty pounds, and am eating a fairly low fat diet.  I’ve never been much of a beef eater, although the rare Prime Rib is appealing.  I like turkey burgers, chicken and fish.  I’m happy.  Then, I go to the doctor.

My G.P. is concerned that I am tired again (that seems to be a main symptom of many women’s heart problems.  Cardiologist does another Cardiac Catherization, as the stress test does not show a problem on me.  My blockage is still there.  The bi-pass failed.  The surgery did seem to take care of the spasm that was putting me in danger, though I am also on medication for that.  But, now I am one vein short, if I ever need one.

I am told that I am not a candidate for further heart surgery.  The blockage is at the heart, where a stint will not work.  Since it has not gotten worse in four years, I should just keep doing what I am doing.  WHAT?  Keep my fingers crossed???  That’s not me.

I had recently seen an interview with President Bill Clinton, who decided to do something about his heart blockage.  He went on a vegan, oil free diet.  It is based on a diet you can read about in  Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D. 

See more here:  http://www.heartattackproof.com/     and here, a modified version from his fireman son:  http://engine2diet.com/28-day-tools/

So, I started eating what I imagined this diet was, but every night dinner was whatever husband fixed for he and the boys because I was just so hungry.  Then, the book came and the fun began.  Stay tuned.

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January was the month of cataract surgery.   Now, if you want a rocking good time just try cataract surgery.  Nothing to dull the edge.  Hold your body stiff as a board because, as the doc talks about his latest trip or race or why there is the smell of burning electrical wire in the room, should you move your head a milimeter, just what could the consequences be??

I had no desire to find out.  So, I found that every muscle in my body was rigid as I lay there watching water swirl in my right eye.  Which was the eye that had some pain with the surgery.  After having one eye done, the second eye was well, easier.  No pain.  But, I counted  and confirmed that it did take more than 2 minutes to do the surgery.

That being dwelt on enough in this blog, I am counting off the days till my vision is totally clear.  I am sure the steroid drops, still in one eye, are not helping my vision; which is said to be 20/20 now. 

I did see the moon the other night.  For the first time in my life, I looked up and saw the moon clearly without any glasses.

Now, that was cool!!!

I will be back to posting regularly in about two weeks, when I am done with eye drops and get a pair of reading glasses.  Right now I am using this credit card sized plastic magnifier to read.  Not cool!

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There was never a meal around my mother’s family table, or so I was told by my dad, that did not contain a conversation about something gross.  His  sole contribution to the conversation was a groan, and “Do we have to talk about… snakes, snot, poop, wounds at the dinner table.”

So, with this post, I page homage to the gross side of my family.  We shall discuss eyeballs and surgery.  See, you grimaced didn’t you?

You will have to trust me here, everyone says, “You’re too young to have cataracts.” And, I so totally agree with them, but vibrantly colorful artist that I am, the world has gotten a bit off color lately and it is time to fix my eyes.  The thought of being rendered blind by having your lens taken out is terrifying.

I think I was in fourth grade when the teacher told my mother I was having trouble seeing.  On the ride home from the optometrist, we stopped at the corner store and I distinctly remember looking up at the second story of the house next door and stating,  “I didn’t know there was a window up there.”  I’m not even sure I knew the house had a second story. 

Since then, I have worn glasses or contacts.  They are part of who I am.  I absolutely hate going to the beach and not being able to see. 

When you have those esoteric conversations about whether you would rather lose your sight or your hearing, or your arms or your legs (okay, if you have not had those conversations, you did not obviously grow up in the 60s.  Anyway, I basically really, really need my eyes and my right arm/hand.  I’m an artist and believe me, I get horribly depressed when I cannot create.

So, doc says  that it is time to take care of the cataracts.  Now, I have had more surgeries than you can count and this is my first panic one.  I mean, they are operating on my freakin’ eyes.  This is the scream I hear over and over in my head.

Unlike most people, I was worried about holding my eye in the right position.  Most people say they cannot stand to see something coming at their eye.  EMT still has a problem putting his contacts in.  But, I have a lazy eye and often do not realize that my right eye is looking forward and my left eye is off on its own viewing my peripheral area. 

My ophthalmologist does not give you shots or pills to calm you, he gives you eye drops.  First you get three eye drops four times in the hour before you go in.  One of them burns like fire.  Then, you go into the operating room and he floods your eye, repeatedly.  You are drapped with more cloth than a mummy and the eye drops repeat. 

By this time, I could not see.  All you see are shadows of shapes or color.  I hate bright light and it took a minute to adjust to the lamp, then I just lay there stiff as a board, scared to move and as tense as I high tension wire.

The next two minutes lasted about an hour (I swear – but husband swears I was back before he got back from the bathroom). 

Since you cannot see you are not sure but the incision (I think) hurt a bit and what felt like stitches.  Mostly what I saw was like being underwater and the world above me swirling and him moving the lens around, to get it in place, I presume.  It was all very surreal and science fictiony. 

My left eye is to be done on Tuesday at 6am.  I now have 20/20 vision in my right eye.  UberCool!  Excuse me if I used that wrong, I really have no clue what Uber means.  Which I guess disproves the point that I am too young for cataracts.

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OhMyGosh!!! Humor is as big as Indiana now, in my Tag Clouds. (see that thing on the right at the bottom of the post, if you are unfamiliar with the term.) Can the takeover of FLDS be far behind?  That was my goal just yesterday, to raise humor to the top level of my Blog.

I have been writing much too seriously, and I need humor in my life. You see, I am still recovering from open heart surgery, performed in November of 2007. Without insurance, my condition was allowed to progress for two years.

I told the P.A. that I was tired. Then, that I had heart attack symptoms. The P.A. told me I was just under stress. Of course, I was under stress. I thought I was having a heart attack. in her wisdom, she never offered to treat stress as that would make too much sense. Then, by the end of two years of this, a new doctor took over that office, in Nashville, Indiana, and called me  to come in to the office one day and told me to not return for three months; “you are just under stress” he told me. Then, he had the nerve to charge me $50 because he called me in so he could tell me not to come in.

I had emergency open heart surgery, seven days later, under the care of the wonderful people at St. Francis Hospital in Greenwood/Indianapolis.

The extremely patient friendly state of Indiana does not seem to feel that my damaged heart, due to the length of time I was not cared for properly, constitutes a lawsuit. So, I sit here, still without insurance, doing my own rehab with a 20% functioning of my lower heart. The doctor says I should be able to get it up to a low normal function, with exercise and I am much better now.

The surgeon told me it would take a good year. It was a frustratingly, depressing fifteen or so months actually. I would start exercise, I would rest for a week.  Now, I do the stairs four to five times a day. I do 20 minutes on my treadmill everyday. Then, I slip in crunches and weights. I love the Body for Life program and had done it for nine months before I got sick, so I’m slowly working my way back into it. My biggest problem is to remind myself to do it slowly, or I pay for it with a week of rest.

I’m exercising and eating MUCH MUCH better, so I want humor and I want to focus on humor. I’m excited to have humor overtake the news on the Indiana floods, in my tag clouds.

Aren’t you glad you know that now?????

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