Friday, August 19, 2016

When I started this blog back in 2004, I talked a lot about my Dad.  He died of congestive heart failure after a massive heart attack eight months earlier.  It shook my world ... but, conversely, it wasn't terribly shocking.  My Dad's side of the family is riddled with heart issues.  His father, my grandfather, was one of the first people in this area to have open heart surgery.  Dad, of course, had issues.  His brother almost died from a bleeding ulcer which led to a heart attack.  Great uncles, great aunts, cousins ... the whole family tree is buggy with cardiac problems.

So when I had my first heart stress test three years ago, I was nervous.  I felt fine ... but so did Dad before the wheels fell off.  Everything came back fine ... in fact, my cardiologist gushed about what a great job I'd done.  I take my blood pressure medicine ... deal with my kidney failure ... and, yes, I quietly wonder if the curse of that side of the family is lurking in my genes.

Tuesday I went for a cardiac stress test once again ... this time for the kidney transplant team.  I wasn't having any symptoms but it was just one of the tests that had to be checked off the list in order to be cleared for organ transplant.  They did an echo followed by a nuclear stress test ... this time using medicine instead of the treadmill due to my lower kidney function.

The word has come back that, although the echo came back fine, the stress test came back as abnormal.  There is a shadow on the bottom of my heart ... which could either mean a blockage or something as simple as shadowing from breast tissue or my liver.   The nurse assures me that stress tests are not 100% accurate ... they're the first step in the process.  The next step is a heart cath test.

After my dad collapsed, the hospital shocked him back to life twice ... and then ran a heart cath on him.  The cardiologist on duty drew my mom and me a picture of what was going on inside his chest.  The bottom 1/3rd of his heart was basically dead.  He had so much blockage and damage that they couldn't even repair that part of it.  The doctor said they couldn't repair those arteries ... because it would be like watering a lawn when the grass is dead.  Water won't make dead grass grow ... it just makes a muddy mess.

As so they repaired the blockage in the top half of his heart and sent him home.  They told us they were "buying him time."  Eight months time, we would find out later. 

Dad was fifty nine when he had his heart attack ... which makes me a little more than ten years younger.  Is that what's in store for me?  He was a heavy smoker ... surely that contributed.  And I've considered that even if there IS an issue, they're finding it early with me so maybe they can fix it so that it never gets that bad? Or maybe it's true that it's the shadow from my liver or breast?  Could I get that lucky?

I won't know for awhile.  The cardiologist called the nephrologist who talked with the transplant team.  They all agree that, since I'm not having any symptoms like chest pain or shortness of breath, the priority right now is placing the fistula and getting me on dialysis.  I'm having the fistula placed next Tuesday.  Once it's matured, they'll scheduled me for a heart cath ... and we'll find out how far the apple fell from the tree.

Honestly, I'm tired.  I'm tired of the delays and the bad news.  I'm genuinely trying to wrap my head around this and put myself in a positive place ... but they just keep moving the finish line.

Nobody robbed a liquor store on the lower part of town
Nobody OD'd, nobody burned a single building down
Nobody fired a shot in anger...nobody had to die in vain
We sure could use a little good news today

Anne Murray - Good News

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