Jul
28
2015

The Lost WeekEnd

Walking the half-marathon

Walking the half-marathon

The ER doctor sat down, tilted his head, and looked at my husband.

“You’re… complicated.” he declared.

I did not like this.

The thing is, life goes through phases. There is the glorious Land Before Kids, followed quickly by “Forty Years in the Wilderness.” Then there is a brief, faux-sad “Period of the Empty Nest.” This is followed all too rapidly by the “Land of Medical UnCertainty.”

Let me say now that my husband is a heathy guy. In May he speed-walked a half-Marathon. He doesn’t smoke, and rarely drinks. He pays careful attention to his diet. He’s a cheerful, active, and doting grandfather.

But medical stuff is like a snowball on a hill.

Years ago, as a result of good health insurance and an observant doctor, he was diagnosed with a heart murmur.

“You were born with it.” they said. “There isn’t anything you can do, and you shouldn’t worry.”

Easy for them to say.

“We’ll just keep track of it.” They promised.

Then they discovered a ballooning artery.

“It’s not like you have a ticking time bomb in your chest or anything…” they assured us. “But we’re going to refer you to a cardiologist in Boston.”

We spent a couple of months jumping each time we heard ‘tick tock’.

The cardiologist reassured us too. “You need to be aware of it, but your odds of harm from an operation to fix it are far greater than your odds of living with it. We’ll just watch it for now”.

His A-fib episode proved to be equally anti-climatic. One morning he woke me and told me I had to take him to the ER because he had a rapidly beating heart. Dutifully he went to the ER and ended up in a hospital bed for the night with lots of things attached to him. The next morning his heart flipped back to normal rhythm and they sent him home..

We are fortunate to have good health insurance. One of our benefits is a 24 hour nurse hot-line. Now, for my husband, it always turns out to be a recording.

“Go to the ER.” she says in a monotone. “Do not pass Go, go directly to the ER.”

It isn’t a recording, of course, it is a nurse. A trained, empathic, real-life nurse, who listens carefully, and upon hearing “heart murmur, aortic aneurysm, and ad-fib” says. “Go to the ER…Do not pass Go…Go to…”

This is what happened on an otherwise free Friday.

My husband got up and sat down to do some on-line work. Then, the lower half of his right-eye went grey. His sight returned within 5 minutes.

“It could be an ocular migraine.” he told me. “My mother and sister have had them.”

But, in response to well-meaning advice from his wife and son, he called the 24 hour nurse. He knew what was about to be-fall him.

“Your complicated.” said the ER doctor. “I’m keeping you over-night for tests.”

We sighed. Too often, now that we live in the Land of UnCertainty our undisclosed weekend get-away location is Hotel Sturdy. The staff is uniformly wonderful…the food and accommodations…not so much.

I should really have waited to write this column until we had closure.

But. Ocular migraine, which is the diagnosis that I am hoping for, is a “process of elimination”. So far, all the tests for all those terrible conditions the doctors worried about have been negative. But no one is willing to shrug and break into a chorus of …”Don’t worry. Be Happy.” So as of now, my husband on a 30-day monitor for A-fib and on Lipitor because there is some plaque in his arteries and a piece could have broken off and caused the momentary vision problems.

I am grateful for good insurance and cautious doctors. Really. I am grateful that we live in an era that discovers once hidden problems. I am grateful for Hotel Sturdy. Our last two stays were for appendicitis and diverticulitis, which are two conditions that could have killed my husband if he had lived in the “Land Before Modern Medicine.” I am very grateful that we are still both around and hanging out in the “Land of UnCertainty”.

But. There are days when I think it might be nice to go back to the Forty Years in the Wilderness. Then, all we had to worry around were sociopath toddlers and Bi-Polar teens. And I wish that “complicated” was a Facebook status, as opposed to a medical prescription for a Lost Weekend…

1 comment to The Lost WeekEnd

  • you know, Time does march on, but the doctors over-react sometimes. you should have heard what they said I had wrong with my back.. some of the words gave me a headache just to pronounce. I am following a different line of treatment, recognizing that a lot of my back troubles are caused by tension and stress. the fact that the pain MOVES from my left side to right side to right big toe to left shoulder tells me I have Tension Myostatis (I think) Syndrome…the brain in its wisdom cuts off the blood supply to a particular muscle, that begins to hurt, in order to distract you from your troubles and stress..the fact that the back acts up with the computer went down and I dropped my camera is convincing. Stay well, Mr. Paul!

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