|A Very Personal Story
I thought long and hard about this article. Would it be an invasion of privacy? Is it anybody's business? Would people give a hoot? Don't know, but I feel I owe the readers of Letters some honesty. Let's start from the beginning.
It started when Nick and I went to Denver this past Halloween to visit a dear friend of Nick's who owns the Denver Wrangler. The first day there wasn't too bad, but toward the evening I developed a nose bleed, dry mouth, and couldn't sleep. I had this uncomfortable feeling for the four days we spent in Denver. Coming back on the plane to home (Delaware) it seemed everyone on the plane was sick. And guess what? Several days later, so was Icoughing, congestion, and that fuzzy feeling. That was the worst I've ever felt. And it took forever to get rid of that nasty cough that produced stuff my friend Haimes calls "fishbait." That cough lingered into January. In fact, it seemed every morning I could "produce" some nasty stuff. Like I said, the longest I've ever been sick. Other than the morning ritual of my morning cough, I seemed to have gotten over the worst of it.
About two months ago I started to get short of breath. Oh, no, here we go again. I thought I'd have to get some meds to beat this thing. But this was differentI'd put on some extra weightfelt puffy. My shortness of breath got worse. It was real tough to put on my socks without having to stop and take a breather. I was coughing up the colored "fishbait" again. A walk to the mailbox was like hiking in the mountains, I had to stop at the end of the driveway to rest up for the trip back to the house. Our driveway is about 300 feet long one way, so this was very alarming. I called my family doctorNick insistedthe hardhead that I am. We set up an appointment for two weeks. Two loooong weeks. A note: when this malady started to affect our sex lifewellwe drew the line there!
I was having trouble sleeping, had to get up and urinate in the middle of the night, and noticed that my ankles were a bit swollen. Very strangewhat's that about? My mom always had swollen ankles. I complained to Nicky that my feet hurtnever had that happen before. What's going on here? And boy was I tired! Nick would have a movie ready on our home theater and five minutes into it I was out like a light. Once I woke up, it was very hard to get back to sleep.
What is wrong with meI've usually got so much energy at night I was ready for anything.
Finally, my doctor's appointment was at hand. Of course Nick went with me.
They did the vitals: blood pressurenormal, weightup by 8 pounds, pulse, ear, eyes, and the stethoscope on the back for deep breathing/heart. My doctor was concerned and diagnosed my shortness of breath as "fluid on the lungs". He wanted an x-ray and blood work. Off we went to Beebe Hospital. He said he would read the x-ray and call tomorrow. He called to ask me to come in for the reading the following weekanother appointment. He prescribed Lasix to get rid of the fluid in the lungs. After four days of taking it made no difference to my condition, I called him to see if he could double the strength of the Lasixhe did, I took it for the next five days and it made a big difference. I could breathe!
Friday's appointment, do the vitalsI've lost 8 poundswow. Have a seat. Nick was in Dallas on business. I sat there fidgeting. The doctor entered and checked my breathing. The results of the x-ray? I have fluid in the lungs and congestive heart failure. Ok, so what is that? Well, it's rare for people my ageI'm 52. It's a disease of older peopleactually it's the leading cause of hospitalization in people older than 65. Lucky me.
Ok, now, how did I get this and what is the treatmentif there is any. Well, let me tell you what it all means. It means that the heart's pumping power is weaker than normal. With heart failure, blood moves through the heart and body at a slower rate, and pressure in the heart increases. As a result, the heart cannot pump enough oxygen and nutrients to meet the body's needs. The chambers of the heart respond by stretching to hold more blood to pump through the body. This helps to keep the blood moving, but in time, the heart muscle walls weaken and are unable to pump as strongly. As a result, the kidneys often respond by causing the body to retain fluid and sodium. If fluid builds up in the arms, legs, ankles, feet, lungs or other organs, the body becomes congested. Congestive heart failure is the term used for this condition.
Ok, so where do we go from here? Well, my doctor gave me a months worth of Lasix and some potassium oxide. We made another appointment for July.
When I got home, well, I had to tell my Nick. He was still in Dallas working, so I'd call him later that evening. He knew already. He had two clients that dayboth doctors and one is a cardiologist! He had been explaining the symptoms to them and they both told him the diagnosis. My Nick immediately went to work. He had me scheduled for next week in Dallas with the most prominent cardiologist in the state of Texas. I had an appointment in less than a week? Sure did.
I had to call their offices the next day with all the required information. Nick took care of everything. It'd been a tough week for us both.
Nick say's he's planning on me sticking around with him at least for the next 50 years. How sweetwhat a man. Why just two nights ago he called me at 3 a.m. and told me that he won't have anything happen to me and he will be there for me no matter what. He said he loved me very much and that we will beat this thing together. Nick is the best thing that's ever happened to me. I love this guy and he surely loves me. We need to get the answers, we have to fight this thing.
By the time you read this I will have been to Dallas and had all the testing done. I have a very positive attitude about this obstacle in my life and as long as I have Nick by my side, I'm sure I can beat this thing. I will update you in my next Letters article. I consider you all my friends, I thought you should know.
Rick Moore is a personal trainer certified by the American Fitness Professionals & Associates. Visit him at www.ricksfitness.net.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 15, No. 7 June 17, 2005