Month: May 2017

Moving Forward

Waiting for test results from a medical lab is different than waiting for test results from school. With the latter, I had a sense of how I did. With the medical tests, I didn’t have a clue. And passing a lot of blood (from the “back end”) was not an encouraging sign.

And then the results were in, and the news was good. Tests for more than 200 (I think that’s what I was told) possible infections all proved negative. Neither colonoscopy showed any sign of colon cancer, not even a single polyp. While the first one found severe colon inflammation, its source was non-specific. The second one was definitive: I had ischemic colitis, a non-recurring condition. The ulceration and inflammation led to bleeding, which resulted in the anemia. The condition does not even require medication. It heals on its own. And I don’t even have to modify my diet, though I am looking into an anti-inflammatory diet.

Ischemia is caused by insufficient blood flow to the lower colon, from both a lack of hydration and my low blood pressure. It is seen in Iron Man athletes (which I most certainly am not), whose demanding performances push the blood to their muscles (rather than their colon) and results in dehydration.

I know I don’t hydrate enough, and now I’m trying be be a 64-oz of fluid/day guy. Yes, it means going to the bathroom more often, but that’s a small price to pay. I’m also adjusting my heart meds, to get my BP closer to normal, rather than the low range (110/65) it has been.

It is amazing how sick I was and how non-threatening was the diagnosis that emerged. But I’ll take it. It’s been a wild ride for two weeks, and I’ve got to build my strength back up.

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My Fourth Life

I used up my Fourth Life last week. After 3 near-death experiences, I wasn’t expecting another. I certainly wasn’t planning it. These episodes are always unplanned.

When I got to Emergency at Swedish Hospital, my blood pressure was 61 over 40. My nurse tech said he’d been here 10 years & had never seen one that low. I was also severely dehydrated; my kidneys were also not working properly. I was feeling so weak & light-headed that I thought I’d stay in bed for the night. NOT A GOOD IDEA, I’ve been told more than once since I got here. (Colleen & my GI Doctor on call had convinced me it was not a good idea either: “Get thee to a hospital emergency room. Now.”) Had I not done so, I would have been “resting” a lot longer than one night.

As an aside, we hear so much about the dangers of high BP that I figured low BP can’t be bad. Won’t make that deadly mistake again.

Here’s the back story, now that I’ve been “stabilized.” I’ve been dealing with lower back stenosis (sort of like bone spurs in the spinal column, pushing against nerves). for about 9 months. PT & Pilates have helped A LOT & will help me avoid back surgery. (Gosh, I hope Steve Kerr gets relief!) But I have been experiencing a very low energy level & overall achiness, which I attributed to the exertion required to walk. Chronic fatigue was just a corollary of the stenosis, I thought. WRONG AGAIN.

My internal med doctor decided to run a bunch of tests. He was looked for signs of auto-immune disease. Instead the blood tests found inflammatory markers & anemia. I thought I’d just start taking iron pills. Problem solved. (We eat so little red meat, & my cholesterol level is so low; now I’m being told. “Eat meat!”)

But, no, my doctor said we have to figure out why I’m anemic, why I have blood loss. With a family history of colon cancer (which would explain the results), I had to do that no-so-favorite procedure, a colonoscopy (my 3rd). By the way, I had seen no traces of blood you-know-where .
I had it done a few days ago. No signs of colon cancer, not even any polyps. But part of my colon is inflamed, even though I’ve never felt heartburn or pain. As the pathology reports come in & help define treatment (antibiotics, maybe dietary restrictions-hopefully inc. not Szechuan food; Lionhead & its fiery dishes is a favorite restaurant of mine), all I could do was wait.

I was given a massive amount of fluids through IV’s in Emergency, and my BP slowly rose and stabilized. My care here was so wonderful & thorough, doctors, nurses, & techs. Truly Caring care, THANK YOU!

So I have had what I’ll call my Fourth Mystical Life Enrichment experience. Each one adds a meaning to life that is hard to explain. It’s numinous, mysteriously numinous. In the meantime, countless tests have been run on my blood, stool, and biopsies from a second colonoscopy. (Yews, two in less than a week!)

Don’t try it on your own. As I said, you cannot plan it or plan for it-dying, that is. For me, it’s on to my Fifth Life. I really should not count on having Nine (though Futon, our cat, is approaching age 20). I’m just thankful for and have been blessed with Five.

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