Evidently, I nearly died

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Aristotleded24

Pondering wrote:
If you are experiencing symptoms you have never felt before, go to the hospital.

For example, I faint a lot, so I wouldn't go to the hospital or even a doctor for that. On the other hand I rarely get headaches and when I do they are relatively mild. One tylanol is always enough and I often just let it go away itself. So, if I did get a really bad headache I would go to emergency.

Excellent point about knowing your typical symptoms. I would take this one step further, and advise to try and have healthy sleep patterns at all times. Not only can unhealthy sleep patterns contribute to health problems in the long run, but symptoms of sleep deprivation (i.e. headaches, dizziness, fatigue) can actually indicate serious medical problems, If you're constantly tired from not sleeping, it's easy to dismiss it as "just being tired."

Caissa

How is your recovery progessing, Magoo?

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Not so bad, all things considered.

There've been a couple of hiccups.  I did develop a mild infection on my main incision.  They close up some of the underlayers with dissolving sutures, then close the skin with either Bio-glue or a dressing (so I have no suture marks at all) but two of the dissolving sutures poked up out of the incision, like big coarse whiskers on my chest, and this prevented them from dissolving, which in turn prevented the incision from closing properly.  Up until last week I still had a small open hole on my lower chest that you could have hidden a tic-tac in.  Some Traditional Chinese medicine (and some Traditional Western Polysporin) and it's better now.

Also, I now have a super-rapid, and somewhat irregular, heartbeat.  It doesn't seem to be causing me any real problems for the time being, and my doctor doesn't seem too flipped out, but I'll be having a routine meeting with a cardiologist soon, so hopefully it'll get sorted out.

And other than that, things are pretty good.  I still don't carry or lift heavy things, but I can walk for an hour or more with no problem, so I'm back to shopping at Chinatown and suchlike.  Anything that had once been categorized as pain has now been officially downgraded to discomfort, if it hasn't disappeared entirely.

It's all still kind of surreal, though.  Every now and then I remember that my heart was stopped for six hours and my body chilled to about 16C so that a big chunk of my largest artery could be replaced with a small polyester tube sock... and yet here I still am.

Also:  hats off to socialized health care!

ed'd to add:  just a quick bureaucratic sidebar while I wait for some dinner stuff to do its thing.

As part of my "never see a doctor" policy, I had neglected to update my Ontario health card from the old "red and white" to the new photo card, so when I presented I had no health card.  As we would hope, they treat you first and worry about that later, but it meant that I got categorized as a "Will Pay" patient -- out of pocket, like an uninsured tourist.

On day 2 of freedom, my wife and I walked down to the local Service Ontario office around the corner and dealt with the health card stuff, so it's all good now, but meanwhile I've received invoices from Sunnybrook and UHN for services rendered, and it's really fascinating just how much a little emergency care would cost if we didn't have socialized medicine.  Examples:

- 2 days of "critical care" from two doctors I don't even recall having met:  $1400

- one CT scan: $550 at Sunnybrook, $732 at Western (I had several of each... over $3k worth, easily)

- ER visit: $350

- ER doctor: $200

- basic room rate: $1737/day

... and so on.  Actually, X-rays are a bargain, at only $22 each!  And I have no idea what two surgeons, an anaesthesiologist and a nursing team costs.  But if I had to actually pay all of these out of pocket I'd be back at Sunnybrook SELLING A KIDNEY.

I think that patients should always receive a nice, itemized list of costs, right down to the last aspirin, with the last line showing the grand total and also "Amount Due: zero thanks to our awesome system".  Nobody could possibly look at that grand total and NOT be glad to give their enthusiastic support to socialized medicine.

-

lagatta

Yes, in a way it is good that you got that invoice - but don't have to pay it.

Glad that you are still alive, but you are far younger in physiological terms than my 20yr3mo cat was. Even I am...

Our old Chinatown is a bit far for me to walk home with bags of food. When it isn't cyclable I'll walk down there and take the St-Laurent "The Main" bus back up north. Or ride my bicycle, but I confess I wheel it up the steep hill between Ontario and Sherbrooke. I do have a stretch of very good Sino-Vietnamese and Sino-Cambodian shops a short walk away.

Last summer there were more locally-grown Asian vegetables at Jean-Talon Market, which was lovely.

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

That is a great suggestion, Magoo. Except that the paper work would probably cost some to produce. But if Canadians realized just how good we have it with universal healthcare, we would be fighting to preserve it with far more enthusiasm than we see today. Few provincial governments would get away with chipping away at what is covered such as privatizing MRI services etc.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Glad that you are still alive, but you are far younger in physiological terms than my 20yr3mo cat was. Even I am...

I've seen suggested "conversion factors" for pet ages -- usually "x7" for dogs and "x9" for cats (in keeping with their "nine lives").  So a ten year old dog would be more like 70 in human terms, and a ten year old cat more like 90.

By that calculus, Renzo lived to 182 years old.  Well played.  And, challenge accepted

Mind you, if I'm going to aim for 183 I may as well just go throw out my butter.

lagatta

That conversion factor is bullshit - it has to be adjusted. A one-year-old cat is very often capable of impregnating or falling pregnant. Very few 7-year old humans are, and even few 9 year olds - those are exceptional (and unfortunate) cases. And a two year old cat is definitely an adult.

Most of the more serious conversion tables would have made Renzo about 95-100. My mum lived to 98. A relative whom I referred to as my grandmother, though my actual maternal grandmother died in labour at perhaps 40, died in her bed at 102. On the other hand, my dad, an inveterate smoker, died of lung cancer at the age I am now, after two infarctus (es? i?) phlebitis, incipient emphysema and other ills. My previous cat, Nadja, lived to 14 or 15.

What is the advisory on exercise? Can you cycle; can you walk in a more strenuous manner, like hill walking? Hope your little open thing closes up soon.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
What is the advisory on exercise? Can you cycle; can you walk in a more strenuous manner, like hill walking?

Oh, you'll love this.  My little rehab guide gives me explicit suggestions on when I can (among other things)

- be a passenger in a car (the concern isn't the exertion, it's the airbag).

- play cards

- climb stairs

- prepare dinner (!)

- ride a stationary bike with no resistance

- putt

- play nine holes of golf with an electric cart

- play 18 holes of golf

- ride a horse

- X-country ski

- ride a motorcyle

- scuba dive (?!?)

... but no mention of simply riding a bike to go somewhere.  Three different mentions of golf, though.

For basic exercise, which I think would include riding, I think I'm mostly on my own to figure it out at this point.  They suggest that if I can speak normally while exercising then it's all good, so I suppose at that point it doesn't really matter if I'm walking, rowing a boat, or juggling bowling balls.

As for hills, gravity still thumps me sometimes.  I can walk for over an hour, no problem, but two flights of stairs in a row and I have to pause at the top and feel old for a moment.  One flight is nothing at all now, though, even as I recall when I had to climb them like a toddler (put your foot on a step, put your other foot on that step, then the first foot on the next step, etc.) and had to pause halfway up.

Quote:
Hope your little open thing closes up soon.

It's closed up now.  The only holes I have left are the usual ones.  :)

lagatta

Sometimes when my athritis flares up I have to climb - and mostly descend - stairs that way. Fortunately not often.

I don't see how even a stationary bike could offer no resistance, as your feet would just go around and around. I'm sure cycling on flat surfaces is fine. It seems that there is a slow rise from Chinatown to your place, though I doubt that would be a problem.

 

lagatta

Just wanted to know current health status, especially in the extreme heat...

lagatta

Just wanted to know current health status, especially in the extreme heat...

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Thanks for asking.  Things are pretty good right now.

Back on June 10 I said:

Quote:
Also, I now have a super-rapid, and somewhat irregular, heartbeat.  It doesn't seem to be causing me any real problems for the time being, and my doctor doesn't seem too flipped out, but I'll be having a routine meeting with a cardiologist soon, so hopefully it'll get sorted out.

Turns out that was something called an Atrial Flutter. a not-uncommon side effect of open heart surgery.  Basically, it's a "short circuit" in the heart's natural pacemaker, and in my case it resulted in a very consistent heart rate of 140(+/-5)bpm -- regardless of whether I was walking, sitting, resting, sleeping, whatever.  Over time this hyper heart rate can weaken the heart muscle, reduce blood output, etc.

So last Monday I finally saw the cardiologist, and got an echocardiogram (basically just an ultrasound of the heart) and it showed that my heart was, in fact, weakening and he very strongly recommended that I head off to the hospital emergency room and get the flutter addressed.

So off I went, expecting a simple outpatient procedure, but they went ahead and admitted me.  I knew that was a possibility, so this time I hadn't left any food thawing on the counter or any other unfinished business.  :)

The next day they did another echocardiogram, but this time from the inside, via a tube down my throat.  The worry was that even though I'm on a blood thinner, my heart could have a clot of unmoved blood inside it that might get dislodged.  When they found none, they attached a large adhesive electrode to my chest and another to my back, and shocked my heart back to a normal rhythm and rate -- a lot like the defibrillation we're always seeing on medical dramas and such.  And it worked like a charm!  When I woke up, my heart was beating like normal.  They kept me another day for observation and then discharged me a week ago today.

So it's good!  Man, I'll tell you, it was pretty unsettling at times to have my heart slamming away like an angry monkey on a drum set, particularly when resting, or trying to sleep.

So, one more procedure to go, something called an ablation.  A tiny catheter inserted into a leg vein, then threaded up to the heart, where it "zaps" a little line of scar tissue across the area responsible for the electrical short-circuit, basically cutting it off forever.  That's in about two weeks, and hopefully then I'll be done with all this stuff for a while. It's supposed to be outpatient, and I hope it is, but if not then at least I'll get to compare the hospital food from Sunnybrook, Toronto Western, and Toronto General!  Sunnybrook had the edge on breakfast, but Western's dinner was way better.

As for the heat, I'm managing.  Our house is generally a pretty cool oasis thanks I suppose to good construction and a nice big shady tree -- we do have a window A/C, but it's only for the bedroom unless things get really, really hot.  Yesterday, in the middle of the day, I made my first trek to NoFrills in three months, and while I was gently perspiring, it wasn't actually that bad.  One side effect of the flutter was periodic sweats (probably similar to menopausal 'hot flashes') -- when those happened while walking on a hot day, I would get absolutely sodden.

How's the heat in your neck of the woods?  Getting by?

lagatta

I also have a large Norway maple outside my home office; if not, it would be an oven, though our triplexes are about a century old - early 20th. I did have to go shopping nearby early this morning as I was out of coffee and needed a few other things, including cat litter. Yes, a new little cat has been foisted on my by a neighbour who found her - typical loss or abandonment on moving day. The former owner, a young man who seems to spend all his time working away and clubbing, said I could keep her - I said think about it; she is yours if you want her.

He also said the elderly lady who gave her away said she was about a year and 1/2 old ... she looks to be about 6 months; tiny little thing, pure black. I'll have to have that and her state of health checked out.

I'm glad your heart rate has been normalized; yes, that would wear it out, if it can't just beat slowly when you are sleeping or doing sedentary work.

I think our closest equivalent is MAXI. I rarely go to one as the closest ones are quite a distance; I find better deals at "ethnic" groceries such as PA (Greek) and the Asian ones. But I think I've been to the one near you, and it did have a better choice of products.

Unionist

Hey Magoo, just thought it was time for an update. You are obviously still with us and going strong in babble terms. I hope your real-life health is the same. Just wanted to wish you strength and optimism for the future!

lagatta4

Indeed!

I'm hugging my little black silky girl right now. She is purring and I'm talking silly to her.

 

 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Hey, thanks for asking!

I did eventually have that catheter ablation I mentioned -- it was pretty uneventful, except that they had to shave my entire chest... and other stuff.  I could have lived without that.  I don't have a particularly "buff" chest to begin with, but with no hair at all, if I crossed my arms it looked like I was cradling a piglet.  But the flutter didn't come back, and that was the plan.  And I got to sample the food at Toronto General -- best dinner of the three (it came with ice cream!  Well, OK, frozen yogurt, but still!)

I also went to Princess Margaret about a year ago for some genetic testing, to see if I had any underlying genetic predispostion to connective tissue problems and suchlike, and surprisingly I have none.  It would have been nice to know why my aorta unravelled (and to possibly explain why my mother died when she did) but on the plus side I guess I have no special reason to expect new acute vascular problems.

At this point it's all as much just a weird memory as anything else.  I have a few little pills to take each day (metoprolol, Coversyl, aspirin) but that's pretty unremarkable for a fifty year old guy.  I'll still notice my incision scar sometimes, but it's getting harder and harder to see.  Other than that, everything is pretty much totally normal. 

TBH, sometimes it occurs to me that of all the things I can think of that could reasonably happen to a 48 year old guy, I actually kind of lucked out.  Sure, it was dramatic at the start, but compared with, say (and touch wood) cancer of any kind, a debilitating stroke, spinal cord injury, diabetes, an amputation, a brain injury, dementia, or any of the real scary ones that just go by acronyms (like ALS) this wasn't so bad.  Even a much more common heart attack means foreverafter worrying about another.

Meanwhile, I can still walk miles in a day, I can still eat butter and drink wine, and probably most important to me, I don't have to live my life around a medical condition.  So it's all good & I hope all's well with you too.  Let's all resolve to eat well and get enough sleep and take care of ourselves a little.

Quote:
I'm hugging my little black silky girl right now. She is purring and I'm talking silly to her.

Awww!  Olivia is extra-friendly in the winter, since she doesn't care to go outside, so we're enjoying it while we can.  Once the open door policy is back in effect, we'll see her for food time and treats, mostly. :)

lagatta4

Since we've had a bit of a thaw, Livia went out yesterday evening and this morning, but didn't stay out for long, just keeping an eye (and some discreet droplets of pee) on her territory. She is very visible on white snow/ice.

Unionist

Wishing you a happy and healthy second half century, Magoo!

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Glad you're still with us, Magoo.  

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Thanks, Ken.  And thanks, Unionist.  And thanks, Lagatta.  I assure you, it's only temporary. 

As some economist once said, "if something cannot go on forever, it will stop".  I'm glad you're all still here, and I'm glad rabble/babble is still here too.  Of the five of us (or, what?, maybe thirty-five of us in total?) I might reasonably have expected rabble/babble to go first (Tweet:  "Old-timey Canadian 'message board' the most recent murder victim of Facebook and Twitter") but here we all are, including "here" -- babble.  High five?

 

Rev Pesky

First time I've seen this thread. Not sure why that is, but I guess I don't check this area very often.

With your permission I will add my thanks that you made it through that medical crisis. Your voice on Babble is an essential part of the site ecology. 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Permission granted!  Though you did miss the drama, such as it was.  But I'm 50, so there could be more.  :/

Unionist

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Of the five of us (or, what?, maybe thirty-five of us in total?) I might reasonably have expected rabble/babble to go first (Tweet:  "Old-timey Canadian 'message board' the most recent murder victim of Facebook and Twitter") but here we all are, including "here" -- babble.  High five?

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