Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Doc Hormone's Clog Dissapears While Blog Mysteriously Returns!

**Miracles are rare so they say, miracles in pairs are even more rare! But today I am proud to announce that the famous Doctor Hormone Web Blog has mysteriously reappeared out of thin air! What was lost, has been found!

On that same note, but a longer story, I am proud to announce some breaking news concerning my own recent scare with a so called "Heart Episode"...As you read on, there is a very happy ending, so please check it now....

On Saturday May 7th, I had a bit of a scare...I was working the day before in a huge warehouse installing and alarm system, installing some photo beams, which requires a lot of walking from one end of the building to the other to align them...anyway, toward the end of the day, I noticed a little shortness of breath and my chest felt rather tight...no pain mind you, just a little weirdness in my chest. I wrote it off to “a hard days work.”

Saturday morning, I got up after having wild sex with my wife (3 full minutes worth!) and went out to run some errands at Home Depot, and such. You know how us guys are, reward us with a biscuit and we'll fetch the paper all day long...so after I returned from the store...I noticed that I was a bit winded again, and there was that tightening of the chest...No pain, just a tight feeling. No numbness in the arms or jaw or anything...just a little short of breath....

I dared to mention it to Eugenia who immediately got on the internet and researched the entire web for info on symptoms of a heart attack...Ten minutes later, I’m in a fire rescue truck on my way to Baptist Hospital Chest Pain Center and Emergency Admitting....with lights flashing, apparatus attached to my body, people asking me if I smoke about 200 times each…No.no…no…no.no…etc.

Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful to Eugenia for her concern, cause I’m too stupid to believe I could be mortal, and actually be subject to such a thing...A heart attack...A heart attack? Moi? Naw naw, I’m far too vain and pretty to die at age 53, so I’m not about to be cavorted across town in an ambulance like a "sick person"...at least not on my own accord...she made me do it!

Next, there I was at Baptist Hospital for the next 3 days, undergoing a battery of tests...
EKG's, Thallium Rest Nuclear resonance, Cat scans (by the way, no trip to the hospital is complete with getting a cat scan, In fact, these days they have kiosks set up at the hospitals where you can get them done while sitting in the waiting room...even if you’re not the patient they have a small booth like they used to have at Kresges where you can get 3 cat scans for $25000.000. Bring lots of change though)

Then they have the blood pressure device where they pump up the belt around your upper arm every 8 minutes or so, and that after the first day in the hospital your fingers are about 2" longer than they were. They actually will begin to exude small amounts of "milk" at the tips from the constant pumping.

I wasn’t allowed to drink any of the milk though, in fact when you are brought into the hospital with a suspected heart attack, you are not allowed to eat or drink anything for the next 4-5 days while they figure out which room they want to put you in. The explanation is that if you eat or drink anything, it may alter the accuracy of their highly technical space age scientific machines which are wrong about 50% of the time. I think they try to save money like the airlines by using this same trick…

My blood pressure was good except for the brief period of anxiety during the ambulance ride…even then it was only slightly high 142/102. It was later read every ½ hour in the hospital and was generally between 100/60.

My cholestoral readings were good…LDL 76, HDL 116.

By Saturday evening or was it Sunday early am, the highly skilled staff at Baptist had almost run out of tests to keep me up all night, so they decided to park me in a small room which was filled with brooms and mops.

I sensed that they were kind of busy that weekend. I wondered how many gangstas with gunshot wounds were sitting in what could have been my bed, watching my color TV, and flirting with my nurse...while my tax dollars were paying for their treatment...well that’s another story for another time.

By Sunday morning, the doctor overseeing my so called "Heart Attack" came in to see me and explain that all of the tests so far, indicated about 200 different possible causes for my symptoms ranging from exposure to swamp gas, all the way down to being cursed by Mamma Roux with an ancient Voodoo incantation.

“A possible heart attack” was still in the running at about #170 on the list. This was because of the genetic percentages, given that my father had heart bypass surgery at age 80 ...I think by age 80, anyone who hasn’t qualified for some kind of bypass, is already dead. And backing up the possibilities was the fact that my maternal grandfather had died of a heart attack at around age 60. Of course I failed to mention to the doctor that he died smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, and he would have smoked more, but he had such a hard time lighting them without putting down his whisky bottle, that it limited his smoking.

The heart attack scenario seemed to offer the highest potential for further medical exploration, and a surefire payment for the doctor's brand new Mercedes, so he suggested one final test...

Now, if coronary disease is suspected, the doctor will want to do one, or both of two things right away, to treat your heart disease.

First, he’ll get your permission to use a high tech probe to poke around in your heart. This probe is inserted through your groin which is about 3 feet away, (much further for people of a taller stature than myself) and is equipped with a camera and a balloon to wage war on any plaque he may find in your arteries…This is sort of a high tech medical version of PACMAN only it costs about $30,000.00 a game to play.

Beyond that, the doctor may want to convince you to allow him to rip open your chest to snip out old pieces of artery and replace them with other pieces of old artery out of your leg, which come from the same worn out old body that the old worn out arteries in the heart are.

This is a solution? This follows the same logic as borrowing a pair of laces from one 53 year old pair of shoes, to reuse them in another 53 year old pair of shoes follows…for now, this is the best modern medicine has to offer.

But before doctors can convince you that you need to do either of these very expensive and dangerous options, they have to scare the hell out of you by proving to you once and for all that if you don’t, then you’re in big trouble.

If all of the other tests are vague and inconclusive as they soooooo often are, this is when they challenge you to take the “Stress Test.” You can't win, and you will likely end up begging for the Heart Poke or the Arterial Re-Lacing options as I like to fondly call them at this point.

The Stress Test

Now, the stress test isn’t for sissies. Remember, they will be pushing this test on your while you are still in some kind of discomfort from either a real or perceived heart trauma…either of which may be limiting your athletic abilities. You will be at a strategic disadvantage! You will lose! Remember who’s game board you are playing this match on…It’s their hospital, their computer, their treadmill, their rules.

The stress test is where they will ask you to run on a treadmill while you are strapped up with at least 100 different electronic probes and performance monitors. It takes about an hour to just get suited up for this test. For others who may appear more physically fit, the doctors may require that they take the stress test while on fire, just to further escalate the stress factor to the upper limits of the human capacity for agony. For the most part, the standard stress test will be enough to convince a patient that he needs to have his heart poked with a stick, or have his arterial shoelaces re-laced.

First, they shave your body from head to toe which is humiliating in itself especially if you’re a woman but it gets you into that Marine style competitive attitude…You get the sense that you are an old gladiator, about to die at the hands of the lions, then your perception shifts to feeling like you are merely a hamster in a running wheel and that you are probably going to be fed to The Great Boa Constrictor of Medical Science. Here, in the last fleeting moments of the winter of your life, you begin to whimper like a child.

It’s not pretty. As in all things that occur in a hospital, you sit and wait for the doctor, the medical priest to enter the room. You sit and wait, all connected to a computer and a conveyor belt, designed to destroy your dignity and last vestige of pride. You wait some more…thousands of wires and probes attached to your body in various places. You wait some more, sitting, shivering on a cold metal table in one of those fashionable hospital gowns, no underpants, just your testies resting on the cold metallic edge of that table in that 50° room. Other parts of your anatomy have strangely disappeared altogether, and you wonder if you will ever get to see them again…even if just to say goodbye.

About 3 hours later just when you can no longer hold your bladder, but cannot leave to pee due to all of the apparatus connected, in comes the doctor and its now time to begin the “Stress Test”

Let the games begin! The doctor and his assistants all hover around the computer and play with the dials for about a half an hour, and just when you are convinced that the damned machine is broken they instruct you to get up onto the “Conveyor Belt to Hell” and prepare to walk and follow the pace of the machine as it increases in speed every 3 minutes.

They conveniently neglect to tell you that at the upper end of the test you will be expected to match the sprinting speed of a Cheetah, or have your legs burned off from the dragging motion of the belt grinder you have been placed on, which is now running as fast as a Studebaker in 2nd gear.

My test was finally completed. I felt victorious to have survived with both feet still intact, but alas, as the doctor read the graph that printed off of the computer to document my effort, I sensed failure. He informed me that he saw a couple of “quirks” in the high end of the test that were suspicious. I had my own suspicions.

Still he was my doctor and I respected his thoroughness in explaining the results. Apparently, the individual test results were collectively of concern. These results and other data about my family history led him to recommend that we do some “fishing” with the Angiogram procedure.

So it was decided that the next day, (cause the Angiogram Center isn’t open on a Sunday, big golfing day for doctors) we would do the procedure. Now I must admit in all honesty that I do believe the results of my Stress Test were not rigged, and my doctor admitted that the tests could be pointing to what is called a “False Reading.” So, I was optimistic that what they thought was a possible blockage would hopefully, be small and easy to correct with the angioplasty procedure.

Monday May 09, 2005

Today was to be the day I would find out how much my life was about to change. I had turned 53 only the week before, and here was my birthday gift…coronary heart disease! Cheeze!

I was depressed, and angry but I was also grateful that I had listened to people who gave me smart advice, to get to medical attention right away. I did and as a result, the blood tests indicated that I had suffered absolutely no heart damage at all! None whatsoever! I was very grateful for this!

Secondly, I learned later that heart disease kills so many people because the symptoms are treacherously subtle! Some people experience extreme pain, and just know that they are in the midst of a heart attack. Others think they have gas, or a chest cold, or the effects of asthma, and they ignore their hearts cry for help. This is precisely what kills them. Those subtle little twinges and aches, shortness of breath etc…are trying to let you know something, your heart is not getting the oxygen it needs, and while you are trying to dismiss it as gas, your heart is undergoing severe fatal damage. When enough damage is done to the heart, it stops and you die…Somewhere just shortly before total shutdown is when you get that big shout from your heart….by then, its too late!


Breaking Good News!

Finally came the real good news for me, and the happy ending to my story. As it turns out, the angiogram I had, showed absolutely no signs of arterial plaque buildup, and no need for angioplasty procedure…in fact, no heart attack had occurred at all!

Essentially I had what appeared to be a false reading. Everyone lived happily ever after…

I had a new lease on life, and got a very expensive but very thorough heart exam along the way.
My doctor made a payment on his new car.

And finally, the guy that makes those sticky pads with the buttons on them that they put all over your body when they do the EKG exams, is a much richer man today since they used about 12,000 of them on me. I have patches of hair missing all over my body. I look like an old dog with mange…

I still have to go in for a follow up visit to the doctor, but heart disease is ruled out. I still think I was working around some chemicals last week that may have agitated my lungs, but
When I think of all the people around me who are dying from heart attacks and realize how often it could be prevented, I really count myself as fortunate in light of this!

Like I said, trust your doctor…(besides, he’s probably got a daughter in college, and tuition is very expensive.)

-Doc Hormone