It’s been over 2 months since I published a post to this blog, so I’m sorry not to be more communicative. All during that time, I kept hoping to be able to deliver better news about Don’s health and to say his pain had decreased or at least was being managed better. During that time period, here’s a quick rundown of the significant events in his medical condition. (Note: If you’re not interested in this blow-by-blow review, just skip to the bottom.)
June 13, 2016 Dr. Patel, anesthesiologist and pain specialist, consultation
June 16, 2016 Radiology Ltd – screen for L-8/10 spinal problems to clear for anesthesiology
June 23, 2016 Dr. Patel, anesthesiology procedure (nerve block) #1
July 1, 2016 Dr. Patel, anesthesiology procedure (nerve block) #2
July 22, 2016 Dr. Patel follow-up, referral to Dr. Olson for umbilical hernia
August 1, 2016 Dr. Olson, consult re umbilical hernia, referral to Dr. Robertson (PCP) and Dr. Gonzales, cardiologist, re warfarin use
August 3, 2016 ER Benson Hospital, legs swollen and belly pain, transported to St. Mary's Hospital for evaluation, diagnosis congestive heart failure, IV of Lasix to reduce swelling
August 4, 2016 Echocardiogram, St. Mary's Hospital, discharged
August 7, 2016 ER Benson Hospital, chest pain, kept overnight for observation
August 16, 2016 PET scan, Dr. Gonzales office, Sierra Vista
August 17, 2016 Umbilical hernia surgery, Dr. Olson, NW Hospital, Tucson
Finally, one week after surgery, Don is feeling none of the type of belly pain he has suffered from for over a year! It could take another week or so to completely recover from the surgery, but we are so thrilled to reach this point.
I’ve lost count of how many doctors noticed his hernia, even poked it to see if it hurt, and failed to pursue doing anything about it. The pain was so severe and covered such a large part of Don’s belly, he couldn’t tell that the source was the hernia, even when it was being poked and prodded.
As for the congestive heart failure, according to Medline Plus, “Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can't pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. Heart failure does not mean that your heart has stopped or is about to stop working. It means that your heart is not able to pump blood the way it should.”
The condition is treatable, with close monitoring and the right kind of meds, diet and exercise. I was surprised to read that 6 million Americans are living with heart failure, especially since the cause of my late husband Bill McKay’s death was congestive heart failure. So the good news is that failure isn’t final – maybe there should be different terminology for the condition.
For the past 16 months, our lives have certainly been different than what we prefer. We have only been out of Arizona briefly during that time, and have missed so much the RV traveling lifestyle that we love. We look forward to getting back on the road for at least some short trips as soon as the follow-up doctor visits are complete.
Meanwhile, Don has started to do more small projects around our motorhome and RV lot. We’re both getting more exercise by walking our sweet dog Gigi, and he’s maintaining his 80+ pounds weight loss. (Now I need to work on my own weight!)
Thanks for all the thoughts, prayers and support from our friends and family during this time. We have become closer to each other and all who commiserated with us, and we are excited to put all the doctor visits, pain meds and hospital stays behind us and begin some new adventures!