Staying the Course -- March 23, 2020

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Superbob

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Things got crazy hectic last month, so I stepped away from Throwdown but thought I'd go back to posting a brief starter here each week and see if there is still interest. I gather traffic as a whole may have dropped off on site during the coronavirus threat, but I expect it will pick back up as we get through that.

What's with us? Well, looks like our daughter in Tennessee, and her daughter (our oldest granddaughter) will be moving a few blocks from us/same neighborhood. So we will have both our son and our daughter, and all 4 grandkids, nearby, which is a wonderful blessing. And a beach nearby -- kids will love that, and good for dawgwalks as well.

Medical: I'm still worrying about the incisional hernia up at top of my abdomen, but so far the cardiac rehab nurses, the gp's PA, a cardio PA, and most recently my cardiologist have indicated they think it would be best for me to learn to live with it -- unless it starts giving me serious problems -- cause I've had two OHSs now, and slicing into that section of my chest again could do muscle damage. However, my cardio did tell me about a widely renowned hernia expert in Charlotte who could well be of help if I need it. The hernia happened about 3 months after my September aortic aneurysm surgery -- but it's not uncommon. I likely caused it by lifting heavier things than I should. Dumb old jock.

Wife is still dealing with frustratingly persistent skin problem on legs. The docs we found for that have all been duds -- but finally I believe we have found a very good group of dermatologists with the knowledge, dedication, and compassion to help her get better,

Oh we have our first telmed/facetime/remote/whatever appointment with our gp tomorrow. So there is a new twist.

Well, hope this finds all of you well. FredW sent me a very kind note asking how we were doing, and it was great to hear from him! Love to hear from you all as you have the time and inclination.

Cheers,
Superbob🦸‍♂️❤
 

Paleowoman

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Hi Superbob ! Nice to hear your news after your quiet.

Here it's lockdown and I should self-isolate as my GP considers I am high risk if I got the virus. I don't mind self-isolating, only worry is if we can't get online grocery deliveries which have become increasingly difficult to get due to so many people using them.

Hope the dermatologist can help your wife get better quickly.
 

Superbob

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I am lucky re groceries: I order them online, but then drive over and a grocery worker loads them into the car for me. Grocery is only a mile from our house, so that helps. Sounds like your lockdown perhaps is more stringent over there, Paleowoman? We practice "social distancing" but able to get out and about. Many destinations are closed, such as restaurants, but we can get takeout from them. I picked up dinner from our favorite Italian restaurant tonight.
 
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MartinF

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I'm still working, going in 2-3 times a week for a half day. Then the rest of the day at home. And I'm still getting out to walk or run. Just finished a 3 mile walk today. Very little extra trips out of the house. We are mostly eating in.
Good to hear from you SB. Everyone stay safe.
 

Superbob

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Great to hear that you are staying active, Martin! Reminds me, I need to get out the door and walk my senior dawg. Just saw a Patient Portal message from our vet reminding me that Ellie dawg is now in geriatric stage. But, then, so am I -- so we're a good match. Two old dawgs.

Sorry about letting you and others down by vacating Staying the Course for a month, but will be more dedicated now to staying the course. (BTW, kudos to Superman for helping fill the void with some of his spectacular photos!)

I am gotten layoff notice (along with half of other staff) from my part-time writing gig in semi-retirement, so will have more time to write as of start of April. Maybe I can still find a few outlets that might want to pay an old-timer for his thoughts, who knows? Heck, maybe I will write the great American novel.

Anyway, keep up that activity, Martin. Always great to hear from you!
 

tom in MO

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Superbob, when it comes to your hernia, I had my last one fixed with laparoscopic surgery. The first hernia was fixed by sewing it up no fancy surgery, second was three holes in the bottom of my abdomen for the laparoscopic instruments and they put in a teflon mesh. Maybe that will work for you if you ever need it. However, you can go a long time before needing a hernia fixed. Lots of people never do, you can sometimes see it when they wear a Tshirt.

But don't blame your lifting for the hernia, it's common for the tissue to get weak due to surgeries and age. My first came a few years after removal of part of my colon, the second after OHS. I have this hump now on my belly, too big for a hernia. I went back to the hernia surgeon and he said your muscles can't hold your insides in like they used to and the hump was the result. It's benign and since I'm married and not in the meat market anymore, who cares :)

As a writer, what kinds of things do you author? Any examples you can share? I write, but boring things like audit reports and standard operating procedures.
 

Superbob

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Tom: Very helpful, thank you! Both my cardio and GP have highly recommended a renowned specialist in neighboring North Carolina who, I gather, likes to do the minimally invasive approach with mesh. I am going to ask for a consultation with him after the current pandemic subsides.

My hernia is at top of abdomen, so near top of the incision, which makes me fret because of proximity to the heart. But I guess the guts poking through there don't necessarily imperil the heart. Live with it is good if you can. But the hump seems to have enlarged a bit since first being noticed in January, and without offering TMI I can notice a little difference in bowel function (though eased by Colace) so I at least want an expert take on any possible risks.

Multiple OHSs and advanced age are certainly factors. I qualify on both counts.

As for writing, perhaps I'll find a sample blogpost from recent years (nothing controversial) and post a link. (I don't get paid for blogging. I only wish. Some do. Maybe I can find a way.)

P.S.: Tom, since you asked, here is a link to a blogpost I wrote about our family's hurricane adventures. The Hurricane That Won't Go Away
 
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Superman

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Superbob, good to see the old thread master back in business. Those unexpected challenges with recovery really stink. Totally sympathize with you on that. Of all the things that can go wrong, seems the one that gives the greatest trouble is one we hadn’t even considered.

I had my troubles with pancreatitis followed by an unrelated infection that I could only attribute to a compromised immune system.

Speaking of which, hope you and Mrs Superbob are being extra vigilant during these times!

You all saw my other thread, but of late just crazy busy with work trying to tread water. I think my wife and I are blessed to be in professions that have become more important during these times. However, I have to admit a bit a jealousy seeing the neighbors out of my makeshift office window playing with their kids in the yard. But I don’t know if they’re hurting with work or what. Count my blessings, right?

Thanks everyone else for updates as well. All this is kind of nice in many ways. 30 years ago, we all would have been stuck going in to work or glued to the network news waiting for updates. At least people can still connect.
 

Superbob

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Superbob, good to see the old thread master back in business. Those unexpected challenges with recovery really stink. Totally sympathize with you on that. Of all the things that can go wrong, seems the one that gives the greatest trouble is one we hadn’t even considered.

I had my troubles with pancreatitis followed by an unrelated infection that I could only attribute to a compromised immune system.

Speaking of which, hope you and Mrs Superbob are being extra vigilant during these times!

You all saw my other thread, but of late just crazy busy with work trying to tread water. I think my wife and I are blessed to be in professions that have become more important during these times. However, I have to admit a bit a jealousy seeing the neighbors out of my makeshift office window playing with their kids in the yard. But I don’t know if they’re hurting with work or what. Count my blessings, right?

Thanks everyone else for updates as well. All this is kind of nice in many ways. 30 years ago, we all would have been stuck going in to work or glued to the network news waiting for updates. At least people can still connect.
Superman -- YOU are the real thread master! Your "COVID-19: How Are You Spending Your Time?" was/is brilliant. I remember in the olden days of vr.org when Small Talk was one of the most popular forums on here. Congrats for reviving it! Timely subject and a lot of great responses.

And I found there for the first time that Duffey's hubby had exposure to an ICU patient who may be infected, and so Duffey and hubby are quarantining in house -- on separate floors, while dog is confused. Duffey, I am praying for you both -- do keep us posted!
 
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Superbob

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Meanwhile, far down the concern scale, way way down compared to all that's happening worldwide, I have the worst pain in the neck I have ever encountered. Better there, I suppose, than certain other areas of body. Anyway, here's what I posted on Facebook. Maybe a Courser has a good home remedy to suggest:

".... been fighting spinal stenosis for 15 years so I can keep dawgwalking, but dumbest thing I have done lately is carrying my worn-out walking stick behind my back, cradled by elbows, in hopes of supporting the spine. Pretty sure that's brought on a pinched nerve in neck. Resolved: to use (finally) the back brace my orthopedist prescribed me years ago, apply ice not heat, get me a new walking stick for ground contact, and do the stretching exercises my athletic son Bobby sent me. Any other good home remedies? (Don't have any Tennessee whiskey on hand at moment.)"
 

Duffey

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This is turning out to be much worse than I could have imagined. I wake up, do a quick check of how I feel (any fever, chest tightness, unusual muscle aches) then say a quick prayer of thanks that we’re another day out from the initial exposure. The pulmonary doctor that Bob works with, and is great friends with, took a cruise about 3 weeks ago before the real craziness started. Unfortunately he did contract coronavirus, and although we were concerned, we expected that he would fully recover. We learned today that he’s critical and on a ventilator in the Covid-19 unit where he and Bob work. In addition Bob’s elderly mother passed away overnight in Illinois and the state is under a shelter in place order. There will be no funeral service; cremation and a celebration of life service perhaps in late summer. I don’t feel sorry for myself, but I do ache for Bob.
 

Superman

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Duffey,

Situations like yours certainly make this whole thing very real. Sorry read about Bob’s mother passing, coupled with circumstances that are surreal. Losing a parent is hard enough on its own. Wishing you and Bob closure when circumstances allow.

My wife works in a hospital and right now is the only one in the family who’s really stuck leaving and mingling with the public. Thus, she’s taken groceries on and won’t let me add unnecessary risk, which I get but still - I can get groceries. Anyway, just hearing the measures taken. No visitors, even in passing. No goodbye’s. Just sad. Sad and necessary unfortunately.
 

tom in MO

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Thanks for the blog post Superbob. Your story about the pancake house reminds me of the way things are now. Every Saturday morning I go to the same coffee house. I've been going there since it opened and its on its third owner. My daughter, 25 yo, went there as a toddler. I still go in on Saturday, but it's just takeout at the front door now. I can tell the staff really appreciates the business and also appreciate just seeing the regulars and knowing we are still kicking. :)

When it comes to stenosis and arthritis of the back I have it as well and in the neck. It's weird how one bone spur in the wrong place can make your fingertips numb, your arm tingle, but your back hurts so much. For me it comes, wreaks havoc and then goes away. I've been told it will become an old friend like the ticking of my valve. I find that the simple stretching exercises I learned in cardiac rehab help. I also take a half a percocet before bed to help with sleep. I have an old fashioned rocking chair, a sewing rocker. that's low to the ground, can help as well. JFK used a rocker for his spinal problems as well. I asked my orthopedist if a chiropractor could help the last time it was real bad. I have a friend who uses a chiropractor for his back. He said it can in about 25% of the cases but generally is not a long term fix and provided me a referral. I have yet to try. I attached some exercises recommended by an osteopath to a friend. I do modified versions of two of them a few times a week.

Per your hernia, with my first, I was told that it must be fixed once it gets big enough that the bowel becomes cut off.

Good luck.
 

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FredW

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Thanks, Superbob for starting this thread again.

Duffy, I can imagine what you are going through now. Just know that I, and I suspect many others on this forum, are sending you good vibes and best wishes. We are here to listen, talk to, or do whatever we can to ease these hard times.

Superman, people who are working in health care, facing patients or backroom support are saints. As are their families having to deal with the fear and stress they are encountering. We appreciate these heroes.

It is so nice to hear from all our friends on this forum. Everyone has a story about how they are dealing with this.

My is somewhat long.

I got talked into visiting the ER Friday afternoon. I fought it, my gut and desire to stay away from those places said no, but the facts and logic said I needed to be checked out, sooner than later. I have been having episodes of heart issues for the past 4 weeks. Starting slowly and getting more serious. I kept it quite then Covid 19 hit. Then the symptoms got scary.

I made the mistake of telling my wife, who in turn pressured me to call my doc. When I did the office was closed. To make my wife happy and get a more informed opinion than mine, I called a nurse hotline. She told me to go to the ER. I negotiated to call my doc back and have a conversation with the on-call cardiologist. When the on-call cardiologist called back, she convinced me that I should go to the nearest competent ER for blood, EKG and other tests, I agreed to with reservations that I was going to a facility that didn't need me to give them more stress and I didn't need to expose myself to a higher risk of contacting Covid 19.

The first thing that created discomfort was that my wife could not enter the hostile. She was told to wait in the car. After they draw blook and hooked me up to the EKG and other monitor devices, I caller her and she went home (40 minutes away). It took another hour for a PA to see the test results which he said showed nothing. He suggested a stress test which they couldn't do until the next morning and wanted me to stay overnight. He quoted the odds of me having a heart event that could either kill me or reduce the quality of life at 16%. I reluctantly agreed. Then after waiting for three more hours in the ER, seeing nobody, in need of a drink of water and a leak, I felt it best for me to go home. I pressed the button and told some voice that I decided to go home. A promise to get somebody to talk to me about it never delivered anybody. About 30 minutes later some orderly came into the ER room with a wheelchair saying she was taking me to my room. Again, I voiced my desire to go home. That action resulted in the fastest response time I had seen all night - 30 minutes later a doctor came in to talk to me.

He extended his hand to shake, and I thought "Are you crazy?". I told him I wanted to go home. He asked why. I said I would get better care at home than here, my meds and CPAP machine were there. The odds of me dying were only 16%, whereas, if I contacted COVID 19, the odds were in the 20 - 25% range of dying, that if I was going to die, I rather do it at home in the arms of my wife than alone in his hospital. He had no argument and the staff angrily put papers in front of me to sign to release them from being sued.

When I left the hospital it was midnight, I had not been able to wake my wife at home. I was 24 miles from home and started walking. As I walked to the nearest place to get water, I realized what I was doing was stupid. Here I was dealing with heart attack symptoms and I was walking away from a health care facility, putting my body at stress. My wife finally called me back and gave me a ride. I had only walked two miles.

This morning after logging into my healthcare portal to see the results of the test and seeing that two of the three Cardiac Markers are abnormal, I called my regular cardiologist. They were going to contact the hospital to get the test results and give them to the doc to read. I offered to send them the results, but they said they needed to get them from the hospital.

It is now 2:20 pm and I'm still waiting for a callback.

Moral of this story? There is something wrong with the US health care system and it is sad.

I fully understand the system is stressed. I know my case may not be serious, but, if it was, the system, today, can not deal with cases like mine or others who need medical attention for issues other than COVID 19. I have an 84% chance of living with my condition until I can seek care.

BTW, I live in Western PA, not a hot spot for COVID. Our county has only two cases of positive results.

But those odds tell me something is wrong.

Wow! Did I forever ramble? Thanks for reading.
 

Superman

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@FredW , you were going to walk 24 miles!?! Or just counting on your wife to come through?

Regarding ER, I’ve often found they’re great with real emergencies. When it’s not a real emergency (which we don’t always know until we get there), then tend to put you on the back burner and it’s very hard to get any decision one way or the other.

My cardioversions? Great. Quick decisive action. Kids appendix (both of them)? Quick, decisive, but not cheap! But if it isn’t obvious right away or if you don’t get lucky on that nights MD and their specialty, it can be a nightmare. Don’t know what to do except not let you leave for fear of litigation.
 

Duffey

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Fred, your thought process sounds a lot like mine, but I would never try to walk home. At least not in the dark, at least not 24 miles. I believe that the healthcare system will be forever changed once the pandemic ends. I believe that the emphasis will shift from specialty practices to emergency and general practitioners. Less diversification. Stay well and try to lower your stress level the best way you can.
 

FredW

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This is an humorous update to my earlier post about my heart symptoms.

It took a number of days to get my test results to my cardiologist, and he said I should have a catheterization test.

I had it done at Shadyside hospital in the Pittsburgh area. My kids were anxious about what was going on, so were using the technology called Slack to communicate to all my kids.

One of my sons, the asked What a stent was. He should’ve known better - he can Google it.

The following is was my answer. Did I get it right?

“They mess around somewhere down there in your groin and they put tubes up there in the various arteries that feed the heart.

Then they put a big ass balloon up there. They blown up the balloon to expand the artery. Now, comes the scary part. They get this metal tube or maybe it’s a PVC pipe they got at some plumbing store, and they push it up there.

And there you are! A stent!

Now, they yank all that stuff out but the pipe part, and then your wonderful.

Later, back in the privacy of your room, you feel around down there in your groin area, trying to figure out how they did that.

And if that doesn’t make sense, read the Google results. RTGR”

I have been practicing my creative writing. What do you think?
 
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