Monday, August 27, 2007

Pittsburgh Pirates!

*ugh* :-(

Next year!

-- Don

Don 1, Embolism 0

I kicked it's ass!

Actually ... visited the doc last week for my final check, including bloodwork. Short story is: I'm as healthy as can be. Or even more so; my numbers are terrific.

As for the embolism ... it wasn't! HA! Turns out, I had three things going at once: A shoulder injury, a (probable) allergic reaction to all the Advil I was taking resulting in hives, and -- get this -- gall stones!

The gall stones explains the pain in the side and lower back and the elevated liver enzymes!

So I'm in great health and can return to working out ... kayaking ... SURFING! ... and all the Go Get 'Em stuff I like to do.

WOOO-HOOO ... I'm off to ocean in late September for some wave action!

All The Best,

-- Don (who is, obviously, very happy and excited ... excited enough to overuse exclamation points!!!!)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Backing Up A Bit

I need to go back in time and lay a foundation for everyone.

(dislaimer: I cannot spell breath or breathe. I mean, which one where???)

Let's see ... two saturdays ago I used a power tool to sand part of my deck. It's an attachment that goes into my power drill and spins with the sanding "paddles" running perpendicular to the sanding surface.

It was not particularly difficult, but I need to use a lot of force. It vibrated like crazy. I could feel it all the way up my arm.

The next day my right shoulder -- specifically the trapezuis muscle -- hurt. A lot. As in I-wanna-die-now a lot. And when I tried to breathe it REALLY hurt. The pain would radiate down the entire right side of my torso, front and back. Hurt so bad that I was taking only shallow breaths. I couldn't get a deep breath because it hurt so bad. I mean, I was ABLE to get a deep breath, but it just hurt too bad to take one.

I spent the next few days taking mega does of Advil as the pain seemed to only get worse. On a scale of 1-10 it was a high nine (my rotator cuff injury a few years back was, in fact, worse; but this was bad. Bad.)

Friday morning, I left work after only 90 minutes and headed home. I couldn't work like this. I needed some rest.

So I got home and floated around the pool for a while to relax. Pain didn't go away, but I was at least able to relax. Hey, it's hot, I'm off work, and in the pool. Wouldn't YOU feel relaxed?? :)

Saturday morning I woke up and -- darn it -- now I can add sunburn on my chest to the now-even-worse shoulder pain. Sheesh ... ARGH!!

Only problem is, my wife points out that I have "sunburn" on my back, too. And it's "blotchy".

It's not sunburn; it's hives.

Okay. Now this makes sense. It's obviously pleurisy. Pain on inspiration, redness ... no brainer. I'm heading to the Emergency Room to get some antibiotics, then off to work.

Arrive at E/R around 9:15 AM. Packed. Sit, wait, hurt.

My wife, who lists "worrying" as a hobby, says she's coming in to be with me.

WHAT FOR? Sheesh! It's No Big Deal. Whatever.

Finally, by 1 PM I'm in back in E/R and an intern is explaining that I need a chest x-ray to confirm pleurisy. Bloodwork is also being done -- pretty standard stuff. Okay, cool ... I'll be outta here in a few hours with my meds.

X-Ray ... wait ... still in pain ... Hey! He's back!

"So ... pleurisy?"

"No, your lungs look great. It's just muscular pain. I'll give you a prescription for it and you'll be on your way".


As a matter of course -- standard stuff - the more experience doctor has to approve the diagnosis of the intern. Well this older fellow, a Doctor House-like guy, has other ideas. He wants a CAT scan of my lungs.

Hmmmm ... what??

Okay, a CAT scan is non-invasive and he's just ruling stuff out and I'm glad he'd rather err on the side of safety and next thing I know "We're going to have to keep you for a few days".

WHAT???? For a frickin' SORE MUSCLE?

"Your CAT scan shows a Pulminary Embolism".

(PE in their obscure language)

Oh boy ... and now the fun begins ...

All The Best,

-- Don

"Hi, I'm doctor so-and-so from oncology, ..."

"... your liver enzymes are elevated and we need to run some tests."

(Note: I am writing this on Wednesday morning; the event took place two days ago)

Okay, imagine the fear *that* brings you.

I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV ... but even I can read WebMD and see what are the causes of Elevated Liver Enzymes (AST and ALT). Going down the list, the only thing I cannot check off is ... *gulp* ... cancer.

Okay, time for some math: elevated liver enzymes + no other cause matches my history + I'm speaking with an oncologist = ...???.


This is all happening at seven in the morning, after being surprised to learn that I'm not to have any food. Uh-oh ... this isn't looking good.

I need an ultrasound of my liver, kidneys and pancreas.

So you know how it goes. This day that I'm supposed to have an ultrasound done on my liver, kidneys and pancreas turns out to be -- for some reason -- the busiest day in the ultrasound department in a long time.

So I wait ... and wait ... and worry. My life is rewinding in my mind ... the things I haven't done because of some stupid reason or WHATEVER! I'm depressed ... oh I see how it goes: eat right, stay active, take care of yourself, be a nice person and you get cancer. Yeah ... great ... while the heroin addict I met in the Emergency Room ("Joshua", and I added him to my prayer list) gets rehab and is good to go.

Yeah, at this point I'm as low as I've ever been.

FINALLY get me into ultrasound at 2:30. Of course, that means nothing because another doctor has to view and interpret the ultrasound.

At 5:00 pm, my doctor finally comes in.

Okay ... I brace myself. I know what's coming and I guess I'm as ready as I'll ever be.

"You're fine."

What? WHAT?? WHA?????? But ... but ... how?

"Then what's the reason for the elevated liver enzymes?"

"Dunno. But your ultrasound is great, you don't have cancer and you can stop worrying. You're in great health, actually."

A little small talk, "thank you"'s all around and he says he'll see me tomorrow (Tuesday).

He leaves and I break down. I have never been so scared in all my life. I didn't even realize how scared I was until he left, and this burden was lifted. I cried and cried.

So, at this point (Monday evening) I'm still in the hospital for PE, I have elevated liver enzymes, but I DON'T HAVE ANY SYMPTOMS! WHAT IS GOING ON???

I'll write more about that later.

All The Best,

-- Don

Sunday, August 05, 2007


Eat well, stay active and you'll end up in the hospital with a pulminary embolism.

At least that's what I did.

(message sent from hospital bed ... sheesh)

All The Best,

-- Don