Thursday, September 29, 2016

Strokes and broken relationships

A very insightful article about strokes and broken relationships. Every stroke survivor has similar stories.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Hearing loss and loss in general

About five years ago, my step father suffered a minor stroke. I rushed to Twin Falls to be with him and my mom. 

The neurologist made Karl do several tests. My mom and the neurologist left to talk. I held Karl's hand, and he mumbled "it's tough to get old."

Karl was very athletic and vibrant. However, almost overnight he got old. He was diagnosed with macular degeneration and then started to wear hearing aids. I still have a picture of Karl showing our son the lighted magnifying that Karl used in a vain attempt to read.

The loss of his hearing plus his eyesight was devastating. It seemed it was it was a 10 year long struggle to the death.

When Karl had his stroke (maybe more), I didn't really comprehend what a stroke meant. When my strokes happened, I realized the horrible affects.

Karl not only had a stroke and perhaps a heart attack, he had to deal with loss of eyesight and hearing.

No wonder was so depressed.

Because of my strokes, I have vision loss. Certainly is not as bad as macular degeneration. Nevertheless the stroke and my vision affected my reading skills in a bad way. I remember Karl loved books. The loss of reading was horrible for him.

My recent ear surgery has left me with hopefully temporary hearing loss.

I now completely understand what Karl went through. The loss of reading, hearing, and eyesight makes me feel like I am in a silent cocoon. 
Trying to watch TV or listening to the radio is difficult. I can only describe it as an old AM radio station with bad reception with no stereo.

I've always loved Karl. The fourth anniversary of his death was September 10. I miss him a lot. I miss him even more now because I'd like to talk to him about the loss that we have both experienced in different ways.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

"Mark van Gogh" and Cholesteatoma

For months I have been plagued with earaches. I saw several PAs and finally my doctor.

The PAs essentially said, "You have a virus but it'll get better." It did not.

I was prescribed an antibiotic to get better. It did not get better.

When I finally saw my doctor he laughed and said, "Wow! Your left ear is a mess!"


Finally I saw an ear doctor and then an ear specialist/surgeon.

It seems I have "Cholesteatoma is a destructive and expanding growth consisting of keratinizing squamous epithelium in the middle ear and/or mastoid process. Although cholesteatomas are not classified as either tumors or cancers, they can still cause significant problems because of their erosive and expansile properties resulting in the destruction of the bones of the middle ear (ossicles), as well as their possible spread through the base of the skull into the brain. They are also often infected and can result in chronically draining ears." 

I do NOT need any more brain damage!

Here's a short video about it: 

My surgery was yesterday. Technically it was outpatient. However, given my medical history (you know, strokes and seizures), I went to my second home Saint Alphonsus Hospital.

The surgery went well. I'm very relieved. 

Though it is serious, because of my medical history we had to prepare in a different way.

I take Plavix which is a blood thinner. When you have surgery, blood thinners are not good. Therefore, last Sunday morning, I quit taking Plavix and instead started to inject myself with Lovenox twice daily, a different blood thinner.

My abdomen is now a series of colorful bruises! During that week of preparation, I also made sure that my "papers" were organized just in case: passwords, Power of attorneys, living wills, etc. 

When I woke up after the surgery, the first thing that I wanted know "am I OK?" The nurse said, "You are OK. You did not have another stroke." 

I prayed a lot about that. I'm so relieved.

I took a picture of my bandages send to friends. One commented that I am "Mark Van Gogh." Perhaps I need better friends.

Bad ear aches were second nature to me when I was a kid. I used to pray that my eardrum would rupture. I'd wake up and the pain would be gone. What was left was a stained pillow. 

My mom would put a terrycloth towel on my pillow to catch the oozing blood. Last night, my wife did the same. 

My life has come full circle. Earaches from my childhood could've been the cause of this condition that resulted in surgery yesterday.

"The same as it ever was!"

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Blood thinners and Calgon

On Friday I'm undergoing minor ear surgery. It's not a big deal until you have to take blood thinners like Plavix. I take Plavix. 

Sunday morning, I quit taking Plavix on Dr.'s orders. Lots of doctors! Instead, through Sunday to Friday morning I inject myself twice a day with Lovenox.

The syringes are small.  The needles are about a half inch. 

Using blood thinners makes people bruise easily. However, injecting myself with Lovenox is a different story! Throughout the week I will inject myself nine times.

This bruise resulted from three injections. On the other side of my abdomen, I have similar bruises.

To make it even better (or worse), when I get out of surgery it seems my head will be wrapped. My son laughed, and said, "Just like a dog, you'll be wearing the cone of shame."

The Saturday Market downtown, Boise State's first home game and Art in the Park. Great timing.

Calgon - or anesthesia - take me away!