A year to remember or a year to forget?

The image is a good friend of mine cranking some Austin limestone a few years ago (Forget it guys, she’s happily married). It’s good to remember, as the year draws to a close, what a person can do and the kind of things I used to do, casually, without thinking much about it. Climbing, skydiving, partying hard afterward, or less eye-catching but equally risky activity, you name it, it all seemed a matter of course. Spare me the jokes about jumping out of perfectly good planes — jump planes are a far cry from perfectly good!

But it was exactly one year ago when I felt a new, weird sensation in my upper gut, for a few moments it was almost like I got my wind knocked out. A lingering burning feeling just below the sternum persisted, it was initially diagnosed as an ulcer, then a torn diaphragm. It wasn’t. [Read more...]

Early indications on Healthcare-dot-gov are promising

paypal_logo

[email protected]

Click image for holiday bleg snail-mail details
Again I apologize for bombarding readers with a plea for holiday generosity, but without it this blog and my health would be much worse off. I used to only ask once a year, but beginning earlier this spring a freak heart attack and subsequent complications, combined with disability pay that clocked in below minimum wage, forced me to virtually panhandle like my life depended on it. The response was heartening. Without the help of a few dozen regulars, I would have been juggling couch surfing with friends or outright homelessness, while trying to recover from an ongoing, life threatening condition. The end may finally be near, if I get through this month, there’s good reason to hope things will begin to improve in every way.

Going through that nerve-wracking, humiliating ordeal while the national discourse was tainted with delusions and wanton cruelty emanating from (usually) ultra-conservative critics, many of whom proudly profess a belief in the principles of mercy and charity as conveyed by their savoir Jesus Christ, ranks among the most surreal, gritty , at times truly Orwellian experiences in my life. That rare kind of personal intrusion, where news ceases to be a TV show and suddenly leaps out from my screen, with intent to harm on par with an armed thug suddenly crashing through the front-door. After a glitchy roll out, and no end of Teaparty whining about people like me having an affordable option to preserve our health, the news this week has markedly improved for Healthcare.gov: [Read more...]

I’m too sexy for this blog

Paypal email: darksydothemoon-at-aol-dot-com

Paypal email: darksydothemoon-at-aol-dot-com

 

Someone asked about health issues, for now my health continues to improve incrementally, the pic below was taken a few mins ago right out of the shower. That’s me at a lean, spanking 155 lbs, down almost 50 lbs from my obese max. Having a heart attack and, as it turns out, an underlying blood chem disorder that facilitated it, the scare the former causes and the loss of appetite that ensued from the latter, has a silver lining, I guess. [Read more...]

Pretty sure it’s not the heart!

paypal_logo

Sorry, I miscalculated, need a few more bucks. Paypal email is DarkSydOtheMoon-at-aol.com

Sorry for the constant blegging, today will be the last day and I’m grateful for any small dollar donation; I’m just so goddamn poor and I’m new at it. There’s always a bill around the corner or something else I forgot about, and I’m not used to running so close to the edge with no safety margin. There’s an entire political party hellbent on punishing people who are already struggling. I’m lucky to have a well read website to bitch about it and readers who care enough to help out. Most people in my situation don’t. So, some good news, because things could always be worse, eh? I’m pretty sure the pain mentioned a few days ago is not a cardiac issue. I’ll still follow up with the cardiologist, but the symptoms have improved with treatment for auto-immune inflammation — which btw can indeed contribute to all kinds of health problems including recovering from cardiovascular surgery. [Read more...]

Back to work!

I’ve been released by the cardiologist to return to work today, for all I know it will be my last. I missed several weeks in May and June due to a suite of confusing and worrisome symptoms after surgery to correct a serious ailment. At first I seemed to be recovering well. But beginning in late April I started having periods of dizziness, intense weakness, for several days I could barely crawl out of bed. Sometimes it would feel like my heart would jump or gurgle. Blood pressure was all over the place, soaring as high as 160/100 to as low as 100/60 over a period of an hour or two. The only time I would feel halfway normal was when I would walk a mile or two on a treadmill per doctors orders. Finally one morning in May, right after I got out of bed feeling extremely weak to go to the bathroom, I found myself suddenly staring at the ceiling; I had passed out so fast I didn’t notice the blood gushing out after my skull had apparently cracked against the ceramic toilet seat on the way down.

The last time I had symptoms like this, back in December, I downplayed them and kept working. Mostly because my employer ruthlessly penalizes absences regardless of the cause and I was terrified of missing work. But the symptoms persisted, eventually got evaluated by a specialist. That’s when I found out the effort to try and keep working over Christmas was probably the worst decision I ever made: I was suffering a massive heart attack, the kind where the first and most common sign of a problem is often instant death. [Read more...]

James Gandolfini & me

The recent unexpected death of James Gandolfini from what could be a heart attack really hit home. He was marvelous as Tony Soprano. Gandolfini pulled off a near miracle: playing a compassionate family man sociopath so brilliantly we found ourselves cheering on the modern day don. It’s common to hear what a swell person someone was after they die, but by all accounts Gandolfini really was a great guy. What caught my attention is he was only 51 years-old, same as me. I’m not sure when his last cardio check up was or if that’s even the cause of death. But a simple cath, maybe even a stress test, might have saved his life.

I survived my massive heart attack with little or no damage. How or why some do and some don’t is a good question. I also suffered complications after a stent was put in, specifically, what looked like a hole opened up between the two chambers causing a panoply of weird, terrifying symptoms. It was about a centimeter in width, that’s a good sized PFO and it would have to be fixed surgically. It’s not official yet, but there’s good news there, that hole appears to be healing on its own. The bad news is the good news will probably make it harder to qualify for disability — not Big Gubmint disability, it’s between me and CIGNA that both I and my employer paid for out of pocket. It’s not much, it works out to about $200/week, this is not a big score. But it’s critical to me: if it doesn’t come through I’ll end up dead broke at the end of this month and possibly fired for taking time off to look into it. Which could leave me homeless with no employer sponsored health insurance while recovering from a major heart condition that requires expensive drugs to be taken everyday for many more months. All at a time when I’m supposed to avoid stress. Only in America huh?

The two America’s on parade

In Wellsville things are great. Better than great, they’re selling a bunch of super rich stuff. I wish I lived there, in that America, or at least on the outskirts where I could visit once in a while, to taste basic financial security for a weekend. But I live in the other America, where you can also spend money! In fact you can rent all kinds of necessities and pay many times what they would cost if you could just afford to buy them. First a peek at how the well off are doing: [Read more...]

Here’s an interesting consequence from heart surgery

You know that hole between the two main chambers of the heart some babies have that has to be fixed? Well, it usually closes fine on its own, but when it closes up it leaves a weak spot behind, and guess how cardio docs get the cath through from one side of the heart to the other when they balloon clogged arteries or put in stents? That’s right, they shove it through the weak spot mother nature leaves behind. News to me.

Sometimes that newly created hole doesn’t close up on its own and I may be one of those lucky duckies. I’m told it’s relatively easy to fix, it means another cath, and in some cases they don’t have to do anything. My cardiologist will decide which group I belong to, but there’s no fear of another minimally invasive cath here and leaving a hole there can be a stroke risk, that’s one reason heart surgery patients have to take blood thinners for a year or more after getting a stent (Or bypass). I’d just as soon get it fixed asap and not fuck around.

Question for serious runners and crazy body nazis

After getting the news two days ago that my heart checked out superb after having a massive MI a couple of months earlier, that indeed there appeared to be no damage (Although that has yet to be confirmed with further testing) I guess I got pumped up. I managed, on a treadmill, to beat my old record on a mile of 5:27 by a few seconds. I’m still overweight for a serious runner, jogging/running this hard is very new to me (The upside? I have no impact issues). I weigh just over 160 and that’s at only 5’8″, but I think there’s potential. I have a big set of lungs and the doc says as hearts go, mine is large — not enlarged, just big for someone my size. Plus I’m certain I can lose another 20 – 25 lbs by early to midsummer.

Assuming everything tests out OK in my next follow up in 60 days … my question for the runners among you: how realistic would it be to train to break 5 minutes and if that’s even in the realm of possibility, what would be the safest or smartest way to go about doing that? [Read more...]

The rupture of the plaque

The video above gives you basic understanding of the complex and morbidly fascinating pathology of arterial deposition and the role played by inflammation. But there’s more, as explained to be my cardiologist yesterday: substances such as a nicotine and other drugs, or even a good scare can lead to what’s called a plaque rupture and once that happens the next stop on the line a few moment down the road can include sudden cardiac arrest. [Read more...]