Birth Of A Book – “Liver AND Heart Failure (sigh)”

463359_407136685985126_323986830_oFinally,  with these posts,  signs of writing to an audience emerge. My work up to now was written as if I was talking to myself. This skill presents at a good time. This blog is nearly complete and there is a book that must arise from these notes.

Did you sense anxiety in my words? I was accustomed to dealing with my heart problems. Now, the doctor was telling me I may have liver problems: specifically “Cirrhosis”.  It was easy for me to believe. Afterall, I spent a lifetime drinking. I remember thinking; “I can handle one or the other, but two organs failing…” It was too much.  Reading these posts after a few years, I can see the frustration in my words – the anxiety.

A final note:  I talked about a D.N.R. in today’s post. Having been on both sides of the DNR dilemma,  I can tell you with certainty that executing a DNR is the best gift you can give your family. Understand, the DNR can state “keep me alive at all costs”. It is not just for “pull the plug” instructions.

Pressure, who needs it? ME!

May 18, 2010 by brha99 

This new year is really not looking good. Two months past, two stays in the hospital. I wonder if we can make it three for three? It is taking me much longer to recover from that last episode than I thought. I am still having trouble with stomach distention. My doctor decides to do another heart cath procedure. They will be measuring the pressures in my heart and lungs.. Particularly the right side of my heart. Distended stomachs are most commonly symptoms of right-sided heart failure. For me, this would be devastating. The left side of my heart is already very sick. If the right side were to fail…well, let’s just say we don’t want that. I went into the cath lab as I had many times before. Everything was going as planned, except one thing. I get no sedation whatsoever. That’s right. Apparently sedation may have influence over the pressures, so we’ll need to do this completely drug free. Man, I am already hating this. I get prepped, and rolled into the room. It is very cold. I knew that from the other times, except all the other times I was given drugs that made me not care if it was cold. Well, it was cold, and I cared. To help put this pressure thing into perspective, let’s walk through how the blood is handled between the heart and lungs.

The blood comes from the body, to the right side of the heart. The top chamber, the right atrium catches the oxygen deprived blood. The atrium then pushes the blood to the right ventricle. It is at this next interface that the problem may be occurring. The right ventricle gathers the blood and sends it to the lungs for more oxygen. It must push it hard enough to get through the lungs and back to the left atrium of the heart. The left atrium sends it to the left ventricle Then with a mighty 15% ejection fraction of my sick left ventricle..whoosh, the blood, full of oxygen goes out into my body. Each body part along the way has pressure. If the pressures are not in sync, or one is too high or too low, a blood flow problem may ensue. Does that make sense? Well, as it turns out, the right side of my heart has good pressures. My lungs on the other hand..not so much.

DNR

May 18, 2010 by brha99

Over the past couple of months we’ve been talking about my health, or lack thereof. As my family and I were confronting all of these trials, one question kept popping up. What should we do if you become incapacitated? What are your wishes? You know, that if something comes up, and you are unable to speak for yourself, your family will have to make those decisions for you. I have seen this first hand. When my father in law was in the hospital after his illness, the doctors told my family that he would never recover. He was unconscious. His brain was, for all purposes, not functioning. He was hooked up to a machine that breathes for him. The doctors are suggesting that they disconnect him. Pull the plug, so to speak. The family, my wife’s brothers and sisters were all very upset. Do this, don’t do this. It was hard. Unless you’ve had to confront this situation, you can’t know how hard. Eventually a decision was made, and my father in law had the machines turned off. Shortly after that, he passed. Why do we put our loved ones in such a precarious position. To have to make a decision to keep you alive or not, all the while, grieving over the impending death of a loved one. It’s not fair, and there is something we can all do. It’s called a DNR. Do not resuscitate order. Actually, it spells out for the reader when to pull the plug, and when to keep you alive. It’s up to the patient. It’s up to you. You decide. You take that agonizing responsibility off the shoulders of your loved ones. In addition to the DNR, you need to have a frank and honest discussion with your family. Tell them how you feel about life and death issues. Let them know verbally what you would like to have done in various situations. It is the most precious gift you can give your loved ones. Perhaps the last gift you give your loved ones. Don’t force them to make decisions about your life. Write a DNR. Do it now before it is too late.

Oye, I gotta go see a liver guy

May 19, 2010 by brha99

For the next couple of weeks, I seem to be settling in. A little weight on, then a little weight off. My weight is like a roller coaster. I feel sometimes that I will never be able to gain control of me again. And as I say that…I am on the phone will Jennifer, my chf nurse again. We made some adjustments in my medicines., but the next day I find myself back in the hospital. It is the same routine I go through each and every time. Honestly, I think the folks on the ward are getting tired of seeing me. I know I am getting tired of being in the hospital. Luckily, this stay was only two nights. The got 4 liters off of me very quickly. I went home to rest.

As we round the corner from winter to spring of 2010, I look ahead just a bit. My 56th birthday is just there at the horizon. Now who would have ever thought I would make it to my 56th birthday. Not me. Not the odds makers in Vegas either. ( I’m guessing) I just know that I am so happy to be here. If I could just find a way to stay out of the hospital. Well, that won’t happen in April. Denise and I were driving around, and I began getting chest pain, again. This is nothing unusual. I get chest pain all the time, but this time was different. I did have some of the same pain in my chest, but instead of the pain radiating up my neck to my jaw (the usual route), it was moving up the side of my neck. Well, what the hell? I am back in the emergency room. After cat scans. ultra sound exams and the like, I found myself back in the hospital. Big surprise. They ruled out a blood clot or other artery related problem. The doctor did think, however that at least some of my fluid problem was because of my liver. It may be failing, or it may be early in developing cirrhosis. He didn’t know, but he wanted me to see the liver guy. The referral was made.

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book cover                                                                               


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