I’ve been absent from the blog for a bit. A rather unexpected stroke slowed me down for a couple of months. No kidding, a stroke! Who would have thought? As strokes go it was a rather light one. Just enough to remind me of my mortality. Had the emboli turned left instead of right on the way to the brain, I would probably be looking up at the grass rather than down at it. It was that close.
Though my blood chemistry was pretty good, I’m still relatively young, my weight “optimal”, no drugs, no alcohol (lifelong teatotaler, but I may have to start after this “incident”), it only made those worthy medical detectives dig in a little more to try to figure out the source of this rather unexpected event.
The incident happened subtly. I was on my hands and knees in the yard working on a recalcitrant irrigation valve, and had my head cranked way over to the side (and upside down) to try to read the manual shutoff marking on the side of the valve body. When I stood up I noticed that my left peripheral field had folded in by about five degrees.
“Hmph! What’d I do now?”. At first i thought I’d damaged the retina in my left eye. Closing my right eye, and waving my fingers around in the left field, I almost had myself convinced that it was my left eye that was the problem…..almost. I then closed my left eye and tested the left field of the right eye. Same problem.
“Oh, s$!^! …… BRAIN“. Time to head to the emergency room, and quickly. My “gentle bride” squired me down the 12 mile grade that lead to Memorial North, where I was involved in a rather unpleasant confrontation with the emergency room security guard. He couldn’t figure out why he was detecting metal as he waved his wand over the spinal cord stimulator implanted in my right flank. I pointed out that he was going to detect metal there all day long, and unless he let me into the emergency room, there was a statistical probability that I was going to expire right in front of him. He was bound and determined to find out why I was beeping his equipment though, and I imagine I might still be there (or dead), had an alert ER nurse not ended the foolishness by physically dragging me into the facility and slapping me on a gurney.
Three days later I was out the door of the hospital with a whole new set of pills, and some really neat syringes loaded up with fractionated heparin. You don’t want to know where those went (subcutaneous car wreck is rather apt). Oh yes, and a diagnosis of Patent Foramen Ovale with some associated emboli in the aorta. Yes, the latter problem is pretty scary. Fortunately, the next two weeks were spent keeping my blood as absolutely thin as possible without bleeding out. Discussing the fate of the clots in my aorta with my GP, he told me not to worry.
“It’s been four days since you started on the anti-coagulants. No problem.”
“No problem?! Why is there no problem? Are those things still in my aortic arch?”, I squeeked.
“I doubt you’ll form any more clots with the anticoagulants you’re on. No doubt the emboli that were in there went into your brain days ago.”
I was comforted, ……. sort of. Tough truth from my doctor, which is all too rare from the medical establishment. I may keep him.
Well, how does this fit in with the healthcare debate? From my standpoint, here’s how it comes down. The way the bill(s) are currently configured, a lot of the money for the program is going to come out of Medicare. Though I’m blessed with two great insurance programs (Medicare and a crackerjack PPO), I never asked for the Medicare. It was effectively forced on me in a convoluted arrangement with my disability insurance company. Having said that, Medicare has been pretty good to me over the years. It certainly works as well, or better in some cases, than the PPO.
Contrast this with the effect of a 40% reduction in Medicare payments, if the proposed healthcare bill is enacted. The money has to come from somewhere, and the biggest “pile” is directed at geezers such as myself (though I’m comfortably ensconced over on the left slope of that bell curve, thank you very much).
Am I looking forward to nationalized healthcare? Not on your life, or mine. When I seem to attract every odd and unlikely disease in existence, trusting a new government program is not the first thing that comes to mind (or what remains of it). Let us hope that the rumored failure of the bill is accurate.