Friday, April 08, 2005

Another day, another crisis ...

My father in law appears to no longer be in imminent danger of dying, but he is very weak, and often confused. He's not eating, and it's very difficult to get him to drink anything. I'm still spending each day with my mother-in-law, at his bedside, trying to keep him hydrated, and get some nourishment into him. I don't know what tomorrow will bring for him ... but I want to try to be there as much as I can and help see him through it.

Yesterday, I kept an appointment with a specialist that was set up for me by my primary care doctor. It looks as if I may be about to set foot on yet a new adventure ... or perhaps I should say: misadventure.

Apparently, a mass of over 6 cm was found during an ultrasound I was given last week. It's not what they were looking for ... and it's taken me by surprise. They were actually looking for a renal blockage of some sort ... but ... let me backtrack a bit ...

In the fall of 2003, I went to see my first doctor in about 16 years. Well, that's not entirely true, since I *did* see one doctor during that time, but you get the idea. I'm not comfortable in the doctor/patient venue ... in fact, I'm fairly certain that you could call what I go through when I have to see a doctor a "panic disorder." I don't "hate doctors," as my PCP believes (and freely tells everyone he sends me to) ... I just completely tweak out when I have to deal with them for myself.

At any rate, after suffering with a sinus infection since Jan. of 2000 and a bladder infection since June 2003, I gave in and made an appointment to see a local doctor in October of 2003. I really did think that I would be able to march into there, get some antibiotics for my problems, and vanish - as I'd always done before. Well, God had other plans.

The nurse checked my weight (embarrassingly plump at the time) and my blood pressure - and stopped. She asked if my blood pressure was always high, and I told her that it was only high when I had to see doctors. She informed me that it was 240 over something ridiculous, and that she would give me a few minutes calm down, and then come back in and take it again.

Well, having a background in nursing didn't help me much then - since I realized quite clearly just how high that was. The anxiety of the moment drove it even higher, and by the time she returned, it was 280 over something crazy.

Well, that didn't leave a lot of room for discussing my poor painful bladder infection at my first meeting with the doctor - who ended up becoming my primary care physician. This fellow wanted me to go straight to the hospital. I dug my heels in. We finally compromised: he would give me something for my infections and an HTN medication, which I would take that day. I would return to his office the next day and have my blood pressure checked again, and would agree to do so as long as it took to get it down to a safe level.

He scared me badly enough that I did return the next day, as promised. I think it was when he said "Look, you can walk out of here if you want, and I can't stop you, but I won't be responsible if you drop dead when you do."

The blood pressure was still high - very high - and that time he convinced me to go to the hospital. Snared. Once they've got you ...

I was in the hospital for nearly a week as they tried to get my blood pressure down to something viable. That was when I met my nephrologist, and was told that I had chronic kidney failure on top of the severe hypertension.

Life since then has been a three ring circus - with me as the buffoon. Over the last year and a half, I've had 3 ureteral stents, major surgery at the Lahey Clinic in MA to take care of a renal blockage, an endometrial ablation, and any number of ct scans, ultrasounds, and misc lab work. I had to learn to give myself injections. I've also had 4 (maybe 5, now) little TIA's, where I lost my vision and was afraid to end up losing quite a bit more than that. If I were to toss in the extra little stuff - the pernio, the neuroma ... etc ... it would round out the full picture quite well.

I feel as if I'm precariously balanced at the edge of a precipice ... and my feet are going numb. My PCP actually told me, while discussing the only TIA I actually told him about: "You know, a large one of those (veins, arteries in my brain) lets go and you'll be gone before you hit the floor." Yah Doc, thankee. Good to know.

Anyway, after my surgery at the Lahey Clinic last September, my kidney function seemed to improve quite a bit, and my nephrologist stopped mentioning kidney donors and waiting lists. I'm still in kidney failure, but my numbers have improved. My BP is mostly controlled. Also, some very severe bleeding was taken care of at the end of September by a local gyn, and I was just starting to see some daylight. My hematologist at Lahey had actually told me that my numbers were better than his!

And now ... this. A "something" has appeared uninvited in my gutt ... something of over 6 cm. It apparently grew there since September. I can just picture the little bugger now ... just waiting for the last stitch to go in before hollering to his buddies: "Ok! Let's GO! We've got a lot of work to do!" And work they did! More than 6 cm in 6 months!

Well, next week I go see my hematologist, and the week after I have another ultrasound to try to peg down that new little bugger. Guess I'll know more after that.

And now ... need to start my day, and get out to see my father-in-law.

Laters ...


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