Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Doctors, Doctors, More Doctors

OMG! I've turned into my mother!

OK, I know. I've been working on that one for decades. But do you remember back in the days when their primary topic of conversation was your parent's health? We reacted by pitying how narrow their worlds had become, hoping that ours never became like that. Of course it wouldn't. We had jobs, were raising kids, stayed young and healthy... until we didn't anymore. Just like them.

I still try to keep busy with other things. But on returning to Arizona, where the health insurance kicked in full time again, there were a series of medical tests and doctor visits. And now the verdicts are in.


For me, it was the cardiologist. There was an echo, then a stress test, then an interview. The tests showed I was perfect. It was a head scratcher. Why was I even in his office, anyway? Lucky for a productive conversation, I had asked for, received, and brought along a copy of the EKG tape from my June ambulance ride.

After a brief exam of the patterns, his comment was, "This is not a flat-line." Of course it wasn't. There was nothing flat about any of it. And, folks, I watch TV. I know what a flat line is on an EKG. So do you. Before I could comment, however, he added, "It's just as bad."

Do you know how hard it is to be relieved that you feel justified in being scared by what happened when you are busy going back to actually being scared all over again by remembering that night in the ambulance and the way I felt at the time? Not to mention wondering what might happen next time?

We discussed a few details. Yes, I could feel my arrhythmia. No, it hadn't happened beyond a beat or two since the new medication. I could feel it start and as quickly stop. That being the case, if it continues that way, with the medication working for me, I was to make another appointment for late December (aka before insurance changes may kick in, when... who knows which docs will be included in the plan?) and if it held true, he would recommend that I stop taking warfarin. It was, after all, to prevent strokes formed by blood pooling while the heart misbehaved, and if it wasn't misbehaving.... So we'll see. This would be my second medication change, and after each one, things were better for a while and then got progressively worse, both in severity and frequency. So we'll see.

Steve went through the same kind of thing with his primary care doc. He's had this cough, along with other symptoms, for a while now. They did all kinds of tests, finally sending him to a lab for blood work. It took him a week to feel well enough to actually go get blood drawn. He's had days meanwhile where he's felt better, then days where he felt worse.

We thought it couldn't be contagious, whatever was causing it, since I hadn't gotten anything. That was both reassuring and worrying. Steve packed away his pipes. He had x-rays taken. Much was ruled out. Questions remained.

Then two things happened. Two days ago I picked up some kind of bug. I'd say maybe just an increase in allergies, but there's a bit of fever with it. No joint aches, so likely not flu. Maybe a cold? I get so few of those now that I'm not around those walking germ incubators called kids so much these days. But it feels like a cold and it's getting home treatment like one: sugarless cough drops, more chapped lips goop, going through tissues, gravelly voice that I'm trying to use less despite having people that I want to keep in touch with while they are going through their own stuff, liquids and vitamin C. Comfort stuff.

This afternoon the lab called with Steve's results. First, he's borderline diabetic. Just like me. We can work that out together. He's paying attention. He's already been reading labels for carbs and portions to see what he could share with me. We've been discussing options. The second thing is that his doctor requested he be tested for Valley Fever. The results came back at intermediate levels. Whatever that means. He has it a little bit? He had it before? They can't quite tell?

Since they didn't bother to give him A1C levels or blood sugar levels, or tell him just what the other actually means, he's going to ask a few questions when he sees his own doc on his follow-up visit. I can suggest a few for him if he needs any ideas.

Meanwhile I'm gonna go lay down. Take another cough drop. Some ibuprofin. Turn on the ceiling fan to blow the AC air my way. Try to sleep in in the morning, despite a dog who sincerely believes that If I get up to go, then she should get to be let out to go, when by then I'm fully awake.


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