Here We Go Again
Some might think this blog entry will be about where we are off to now or have been over the past so many days or weeks. You would be partially right. I am sure I will include some information on where we have visited but mostly, here we go again, will be about a procedure I will be having on April 19th.
They call it an incidental finding. I was having a routine follow-up echo cardiogram of my heart back in August of last year. I needed this follow-up since I had open heart surgery 2 years prior and every year I have an echo to see how things are going in and around my heart. They thought that the Aorta leading to my heart had grown so more testing was required.
This time a CT scan of my chest was performed and that confirmed that nothing had changed since the last Echo a year prior but I had an aneurysm and dissection of my right iliac artery. Under normal circumstances many people have them and don’t know about it and usually do nothing about it until it ruptures later in life or they die from something else.
Since I was now aware it was decided to have another CT done of my abdomen to get a better picture and develop a plan of action for this incidental finding. I had my heart surgery at the Cleveland Clinic so that was a good choice to go back to for this problem. Unlike the heart problem I had one heck of a time getting an appointment to see them.
I have a friend who works at Harbour View, as a trauma nurse and she recommended her hospital in Seattle Washington. The have a well-known Vascular clinic and getting an appointment was rather easy. We flew out there the end of January and they said they needed more information from my previous doctor so they may develop the best procedure or surgery for me.
They believed they could do the repair through my groin but might have to do it as an open surgery through my stomach. The first would be a fast recovery and the second not so much.
This is where it got rather difficult in obtaining all the records they needed. I walked thru all that took place over the last 2 months in previous blogs so won’t rehash our health care system now.
I devoted a whole page on my website, PlayHard-HaveFun.com, called, Open Heart Surgery, about the whole ordeal of that surgery. That was also an incidental finding in the sense that I felt fine but my doctor noticed a heart murmur and that disclosed the fact that my Aortic valve was not closing properly. 2 years after that finding a had surgery and I am now almost 3 years since the surgery.
This surgery/procedure has been scheduled and I will only have 2 weeks prior to our next trip to recover. It was sort of funny on the timing. First it was scheduled a week earlier and when I asked if 3 weeks would be enough time to recover they said they were going to talk to the doctor and get back with me. They called back and their answer was, I guess so, since it is now a week later. I had set aside a month to recover but I guess I will just have to make the best of it.
After open heart surgery I was walking the next day and running 6 weeks later. I ran a marathon 2 months later and have run over a dozen marathons and many other races since then. I am a very goal oriented person and if it is within my control I will be up and ready to take our next major trip to Italy and Africa as planned. If not I have insurance and I will adjust our plans. The first week of our trip was a run with our runningcruise.com friends in and around Florence Italy. There are many walkers on this trip so as long as I am able to go I will make the most of it.
The end of that trip will be in Madagascar Africa for a half Marathon the middle of June I should be ready to go by then some 2 months after the surgery/procedure. I keep using the surgery/procedure since I am not exactly sure what to call it. I will have to stay in the hospital for 2 days after so I guess surgery would be more appropriate but like the way procedure sounds. The doctor said that many have been awake but like a colonoscopy, I would rather take a nap.
We are now making a round robin trip to see some relatives. First stop in my old stomping ground of Louisville Ky to see Catherine’s mom, Barb and sister, Terri. Then on to Cincinnati to see my son, Shawn and daughter in law, Cassie. Last stop will be Bloomington In to see Catherine’s daughter, Christie and family. She just announced they are having their third child in October. The other two boys are 6 and 3.
After that back to ATL for a few days then a half marathon in Springdale, AR. back to ATL for a few days then off to LA to see my sister, Gwen and Sister in law, Joan. From there we will jump over to Seattle for a week. Not sure what we are going to do when we get back to ATL on the 26th since we leave for Italy 12 days later on the 5th of May.
It will depend on the recovery plan and what I can and cannot do. My daughter, Mariah, has a show in Athens Ga on the 29th so it would be great to get over and see that. She is going on a mini tour the month of May. She is presently in grad school at UGA and from what I know now she wants to one day be a professor in the field of Linguistics.
She has always done a lot of writing all her life and as a variation to that past time she has added rapping to her long list of achievements. She recently put together, produced and cut a digital album which you can buy on-line or during her shows. She also put the mini tour together herself and has basically self promoted herself as Lingua Franca.
Hope to see her kick ass kick off on April 29th
The trip around the horn went off without a hitch right up until we got back to the Louisville Airport. I try to arrive at least 2 hours prior to the airport and in this case that was a very good idea. I was unaware that there was sever weather taking place in ATL but it came very obvious right when we dropped off the rental car and got an update on the Delta app that our flight was now running 30 minutes late and lucky for us the flight before ours was also running 45 minutes late.
They had seats so we settled into our seats on the earlier flight and watched the dreaded rolling delay unfold. First it was 30 minutes at a time and then after an hour we were asked to deplane since no one really knew how long it was going to be. Seems as though there were a number of diversions for planes trying to get into ATL so they were given first priority to get into ATL.
They kept apologizing for the delays and you could tell that many were concerned about missing their connections in ATL. Not us, all I was worried about was if I was going to make it to the hotel for the 920pm tip-off of the NCAA mens final basketball game. I got an update just prior to deplaning that our bags were loaded on our airplane so all was good and we hit the airport bar for some wine.
We then walked the halls to get our steps in and finally around 530pm some 1 hour late from our original departure time and we were allowed back on the airplane. I had the window seat and low and behold just prior to push back our bags were being put back on the airplane. Not sure exactly why they came off in the first place but with all the traveling we do I just accept things as they come our way.
Back at the airport for our flight to Springdale Arkansas and there were passengers everywhere. The last couple of days the WX in ATL was pretty bad so I would say people are still trying to get to their final destinations. Glad we are based out of ATL. No connections for us. Flight delays be damn since we are just going to the hotel after all.
I was pleasantly surprised with our experience with the Springdale/Fayetteville/Fort Smith area. Not sure what I expected since I have been to Little Rock before and enjoyed our trip there. We went there for the Hogeye Half Marathon only because we had a free weekend and they had a race.
It was called Hogeye because 40 years ago that is where the race started and finished. It is a little rural town in Arkansas and I guess the race outgrew the small town charm. After about 30 years they moved it to Fayetteville and this year it was moved again to Springdale. We started and finished in the quaint downtown area and there could not have been more than 1K people for all 4 races. The full, half, 5K and kids marathon. The way the kids marathon worked was that they had to show that they had run 25 miles so far that year and then did the final 1.2 on race day. They also had a relay for the marathon.
Low and behold I ran into two folks I have been on trips with at runningcruise.com. We saw Jamie at the start and we met him, his wife and grandkids on our southern France cruise. We ran into Allen at the finish as he won his age group for the half. He was on the trip with his wife and adult kids on the Danube trip. Small world, especially if you are an avid runner.
The Weather was perfect and if I was them I would not change a thing. It was perfect for those Marathon and Half Marathon maniacs since they had packet pickup on race day just prior to the start and there were a few of them on the course. They also had an 30 minutes early start for those that might need a few extra minutes on the course. We did go to run a small portion of the course the day before when we did a 5 miler around lake Fayetteville. It was gorgeous and the small portion was from mile 7 to 9 outbound and near it back from 9 to 10.
They had just about as many volunteers as runners and the police were out in full force to help us cross the few streets on the course. They had the usual bananas etc at the finish but for me the bonus was actual meal type food. Freshly grilled chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs. They gave you two beer/cider tickets and you redeemed them at either of the two local downtown bars on the same block of the finish line. Needless to say I was in heaven.
You might have noticed that I keep track of everything and this was our 16ish Half Marathon since we started our run all over the world tour back in Dec of 14. I say ish since Catherine has done two more half’s due to a broken foot while I did the full in those two races. Looking back it was over a year since we ran a half this fast and before that it was several years ago.
I had planned on taking it really slow and coming in under 3 hours. We caught that pacer group around mile 5 and so the new plan was 2:45. Caught them around mile 7 so figured 2:35 was the new and improved plan. We ended up coming in about 1 minute early and I did not even use a watch. I modified our run walk routine once again. We ran during one song and then walked during another song. Continued this until the last three miles where we ran down and walked up the rolling hills.
We did experience another first on our way back to ATL the next day. I had redeemed a companion voucher for the roundtrip flight. In other words we flew 2 for 1. We each get one of these each year and usually I go ahead and pay for first class. In this case the plane they used to Fort Smith did not have first class so I did not see the value and opted for economy and it clearly says that upgrades are not authorized.
No big deal since it was only 1 plus 30 flight. I got the emergency exit both ways so I was a happy man. The day before when we checked in they asked if I wanted to pay 49 bucks a piece for economy comfort and 149 each for first class. I declined since I did have some free wine tickets and as I mentioned I had the all the leg room I needed.
Surprise, Surprise while we were turning in the rental car we both got upgraded to economy comfort and while we waited to board we got upgraded again to first class. Never had double upgrade on the same flight especially since they said that was not allowed with companion tickets. Live and learn as I said in my last blog entry.
When we got back to ATL we were greeted with bags galore. They were everywhere. The reason was that they were still recovering from the storms that came through the area last week. I had never seen anything like that before and we were not effected by them much.
Just another in the long list of reasons why we selected ATL as our base of operations.
Back in ATL for a few days then off LAX to see my sister, Gwen and sister-in-law, Joan. We always have a great time when we are all together and this trip did not disappoint. We did get to partake in a tax day march and that was a very interesting experience. The crowd was very diverse and the different signs were great.
After the brief stay there we were on to Seattle for my Surgery. Not only was it surgery and not a procedure and right before I was wheeled in to the operating room it was pointed out that this was in fact major surgery. I was out for the entire surgery and the recovery did not go as I had envisioned.
I expected to up bouncing around in a day or so but one of the things that I did not take into account is the effect two incisions in my groin were going to have on my ability to walk. The only way I can adequately describe it is that it felt like I had been kicked in the balls. I really never had that happen to me before but all I can say is that it must had been a horse with great aim.
Here we go again
It did slow me down a bit but I was out of the hospital the next day and was able to walk, somewhat, back to the hotel 1/2 mile away. The evening of surgery I recovered in the Trauma ICU and that was an experience in itself. I could probably write an entire blog entry on that experience and they see it all there.
Our very close friend of ours, Kim, is a trauma nurse there and she tried her best to give me a heads up what goes on there. My roomie got hit by a car while riding his motorcycle and per usual it did not turn out well for him. The 26-year-old is now paralyzed from the waist down and his family are all members of crazy town.
Some were planning the law suit against the 80-year-old that was going the wrong way down the road. The father was imagining coaching him in wheel chair basketball and the mother, that was later committed, herself, would not let the lead nurse touch her son without supervision.
They might want to rethink the law suit since the toxicology screen came back with some bad news. While I was there a Facebook friend that lives in Seattle posted on his feed the story about the accident. The food was great but I should have thought twice since the bowls took awhile to come back on-line, if you know what I mean.
To get me ready for surgery we had to play with my INR number. International Normalized Ratio or better still your clotting time. Since I have an artificial heart valve to prevent blood clots around it I need to have the value at 1.5 to 2.5. Normal is 1.0.
I test my blood with a meter once a week and they tested my blood the day before and it was at 2.0 and would not operate above 1.7. We could wait a few days or they gave me 1/4 pill of vitamin K. I was down to 1.7 just prior to surgery but we had to get it back up to above 1.5 after surgery since vitamin K caused it to continue drop right after surgery to 1.4 and stays in your system for a few days.
I had flight planned on 4 days after surgery and so they came up with a great plan for me to shoot a medication called, Enoxaparin, in my belly twice a day myself. I upped my usual dose of warfarin from 7.5 to 10 mg a day and low and behold it was back up to 1.8 just prior to flight.
I was encouraged to keep moving in between surgery and flight and low and behold there was another march going on. This time it was the March for Science so we made the 2 mile walk each way on the day before our flight. Unfortunately I sprung a leak on both of my entry points and had to do some serious patch jobs several times that day in order to get me back to ATL.
I can relate
After many days of recovery I am back to about 80%. We have gone for some walks and went down to Athens Ga to see my daughter, Mariah, do her thing with her kick ass kick off show. You can tell it is her passion while she finishes up her Masters in Linguistics and struggles with which way to go. Move on to work on here PhD or stay on the road. Only time will tell.
Bought some art work, old school cassette tape and T-shirt while there
Friday we leave for a 2 month trip all around Italy, a stop in Amsterdam and half marathon in Madagascar with Marathontours.com. We start off with our runningcruise.com folks as we do a land base run all around the Tuscany area in Italy.
We then meet up with Gwen and Joan for a week-long Windstarcruises.com from Venice to Athens Greece. We drop them off and we continue back up the to Rome. The family meets up in the Lake Como area for my brother, Garrett, wedding of his daughter, Anna.
From there Catherine and I go on to Milan for a few days, Amsterdam for 5 days and then I should be ready to run/walk the half Marathon in Madagascar. I do need to have a CT scan done tomorrow to make sure there are no leaks around the Aneurysm repair. The day prior to our flight I meet up with my Cardiologist for one more check up of the old ticker.
Got my bill from the hospital. I was in and out in 24 hours and they managed to find 200K to bill my insurance company. Can’t wait to see what they are willing to pay and how much will fall my way. The surgeon put in for an additional 10 K, Insurance agreed to pay 6 K and my out-of-pocket was about 600 bucks.
I guess it would be easy to say that I now fall into the preexisting condition side of the ledger so no telling how this is all going to work out in the future since I do have another aneurysm on my Aorta above my heart and will need to be repaired in 5 or so years.
I will be on Medicare by then so not to worry about my million dollar life time cap right now. I really don’t have time to worry about much right now. I was in a sort of malaise right before surgery. In other words, kind of stopped working on future trips until I could see the outcome.
I just finished putting together another trip in August for a month that includes Business class on Emirates A380, river cruise from Saigon to Hanoi and two night stay in Dubai in the largest Marriott in the world on the way back to Paris. From there we finish up with a half marathon in Petra Jordan. Did I mention that Emirates provides the transportation prior during and after the trip to and from the various hotels.
I love when a plan comes together and with all the successful plans in my rear view mirror, I am one happy man. I had my CT scan on Wednesday and Doctor Appointment with my Cardiologist yesterday.
All good news. He was able to review the results and said that the graft, stint, repair of my right iliac artery looks great. Our flight leaves today and I did not have a lot of wiggle room in this plan. Just the way I like it.
We got back from Antartica 6 weeks ago and I was successful in fitting in the repair and recovery and clean bill of health for now. It was surreal to watch the whole health care debate unfold at the same time. Survival of the fittest and or riches seems to be the plan for the future.
Not something I want to think about right now. I now have great health care through UPS and Catherine also has great health care from the Government. The future is the future and there are still a lot of things I want to see and do so I will let the future take care of itself.