Saturday, February 4, 2017

Broke Dick Biker Pt II

The view from the bike rack at Mercy.  I wonder how many cardiology patients ride their bicycles to their appointments with the heart doctor?  Surely, I'm not the only one.

We have a cat named Max.  He is possibly 3rd generation cat from the promiscuous kitty we adopted many years ago that left us with a few litters.  He is our only cat and the strongest of all the cats of his lineage.  He drove off and out his brothers that were never adopted.  Max spends his time outside and only comes in when it is raining or he is hungry or needs to sleep.  He will be gone sometimes days at a time but usually is there in the morning when I leave for work.  This actually makes him a decent cat.  Max won't play stupid kitten games.  Pure business.  Eat and sleep and beg for food and then stand at the door to be let out.  This week Max came home walking on three legs as a result of an injured paw.  Yet the brave feline never altered his routine.  Eat, Sleep and stand by the door to go out.  It never occurred to him that a three legged cat cannot out run an enemy or catch prey.  But he insisted on going outside.  Damn, I feel like him sometimes.

Usually this time of year I suffer from upper respiratory infections.  Some dirty bastard or bastardette infects me with a virus or bacteria and I start coughing, have a runny nose and end up with bronchitis or an ear infection.  I usually get a cold in October and then it clears up and then late winter I get another.  My cycle of health.  Last winter I stopped using Sudafed, the best defense to prevent ear infections, because my cardiologist said it raises my blood pressure.  Last winter I had bronchitis twice and walking (biking) pneumonia once but my blood pressure was good.  This winter I discovered the cold and flu meds, Coricidin (which was a bitch to find because there are at my store only two and they are hidden in plain view with the other cold and flu OTC meds), for people like me who are cursed with high blood pressure, and I have not had any serious illnesses of the respiratory nature.  But all is not well.

I got hit by three health issues that effected my bicycling in the past month.  The first was a bout of vertigo which may or may not be known as Meniere's Disease or an issue of the inner ear that the only thing I could do is remain horizontal in bed or on the couch.  Standing up and walking had me feeling extremely dizzy.  I was able to take a shower but was unable to dry myself off totally.  It was like being completely and  utterly wasted drunk, especially when walking, but without feeling drunk or laughing about it.  A hint of nausea was present anytime I moved to a vertical position.  I did not feel safe driving a car or riding a bike so I called in sick went back to bed.  I experienced this once before and that was in 2009.  Bed, couch and NetFlix.  I was better that evening.

No sooner than that cleared up health attack #2 hit.  An arthritis attack on my ankle commonly known as gout hit.  Apparently, my body does not metabolize uric acid efficiently and it builds up and out of nowhere I am in pain.  This time my left ankle.  Why the build up?  The consumption of meat and seafood and medication.  And beer.  The latter may have been the reason in the past.  A behavioral issue.  But recently I discovered that the little yellow baby aspirin I take daily and the diuretic on my BP medicine contribute to the failure of the elimination of uric acid.  I brought this up with my cardiologist who asked me if I really wanted to take a pill to deal with the side effects of other pills I take.  Catholic Guilt in me said that he was right, it is a behavioral issue and if I lowered my beer consumption I'd be fine.  BUT this flare up hit me when I had been virtually beer free!  Time for cherry juice, the best natural cure for gout attacks.

So I was limping a bit.  Glad it was winter so I could wear boots and not clip into my pedals.  The twisting motion of clipping in and out hurts my weak ankles.  Then the third health issue hit me hard and damn near killed me.  Angiodema.  This is when the blood vessels in one's neck and tongue decide to discharge the fluid they carry into thiose regions.  It is not unlike an allergy attack of peanuts or seafood or bee sting.  About 1230 pm I noticed that my tongue was swelling.  I blamed it on stress and then took my lunch break a little after 1 pm.  Bok choy and an egg roll.  Not the best choice but it was available.  Swallowing was a bit difficult so I drank water then looked in a mirror. Yep, the tongue was swollen.  Hit the Google and see what causes that.  Three things I consumed could cause that.  First was the tart cheery juice.  I was hitting hard today and had already mixed 6 table spoons into 3 glasses of water hoping it would flush the gout away.  Aleve (NSAID) was the second.  Took two in the morning to deal with my ankle.  The third was the scariest once I did the research.  My ACE inhibitor.  It is a blood pressure medicine that stops the enzyme that raises BP.  Apparently people who have been on it for years suddenly find themselves in the ER with a swollen tongue.  Exact reasons or mechanism of this reaction are not known.  So I have the Deadly Trifecta in me.  Let's see, allergic reaction...take some antihistamines.  I Took 2 Claratins and then a third after a coughing/puke attack.  Time to leave work.  I have a new box of Benadryl at home that I bought for Mary who was suffering from strawberry exposure and now has hives.  Only 15 miles away!

About 2 or 3 miles into it I decide that the prudent course of action would be to stop at Mercy Urgent Care on NW 114th  and seek professional help.  Right now I talk funny and am experiencing difficulty in swallowing my own saliva.  Surely they have a shot of a steroid and an antihistamine that would eliminate my symptoms and I could enjoy the rest of my Friday and weekend.  Right turn at the aquatic center and up the hill.  Hide the bike by the electrical transformer and check in.

The wait was not long.  And as soon as i rattled off the Deadly Trifecta the doctor stopped me, blamed the BP med, Lisinopril, and told me that there was nothing they could do for me.  No shots, no needle, no industrial strength Benadryl, go straight to the ER to be observed overnight in case my throat shut and a tube was needed to shove down my throat to keep the airway open.  I felt a wave of anger and Adrenalin come over me and my tongue shrunk just a bit.  I could swallow my drool now and pronounce words without sounding like a drunken fool.  It had been about 3 hours now and I was not getting worse.  I told them my ride was on the way.  I texted Craig a while back to pick me up at the clinic.  I also told them that I would not be going to the ER unless I felt it was absolutely necessary.  The doctor told me that I was an adult and could make those decisions.  He also said that I would have very little time to get there if it was apparent that my airways was compromised.  Take Benadryl every 6 hours.  No problem, I live within 2 or 3 miles from Mercy.  I guess he did not want the liability of me being there.  Maybe my kidneys were on overload, too much poison to eliminate.  For the second time in my life I  upset a medical professional about my need to visit the ER.

They allowed me to stay in the room until Craig arrived.  As soon as they left I whipped out the phone and Googled my condition.  Yep, this shit is real.  Some people need to be tubed.  If I'd gone to the ER I would have been given a shot of steroids, a Benadryl IV and a steroid script to take home.  I also overheard the nursing staff bitch about dinner breaks and who would be getting the food.  Guess workers' life is the same everywhere.  Thank God Craig arrived quickly.

Long story short, I spent the next two days, the weekend, on the couch popping pink pills and watching NetFlix.  Benadryl is like being stoned and tired without  any creative energy or thoughts.  It sucks but the swelling subsided and my tongue returned to normal size.  On Wednesday i had my 1 year check up with my cardiologist.  I had a lot to say.

Obligatory of Graziano's

Whenever I have an appointment with my heart doctor I take the day off.  I like to get there an hour early and meditate to ensure I have the lowest possible BP when they check me.  Unfortunately, my appointment was at 4 pm which meant that I had to behave all damn day.  Got my hair cut at 8 am.  Stopped at B&B at 830 am.  Then rode to Graziano Brothers afterwards.  Then home for breakfast and lunch and NetFlix.  The break from long riding allowed my ankle to feel better but I think the pain merely migrated from there to my knee.  My leg was stiff.  No matter, I'll continue to ride the single speed and warm the leg up on the climb to Laurel Street, Iowa Heart Center.

Painting near the elevator at Mercy Hospital's Laurel Street facility.  It looks like the cover of New Order's Lost Sirens lp.

My appointment went well.  The receptionist was missing and a nurse had to check me in.  As I went through the door I ran into Old Man River pushing his wheelchair bound wife from hear appointment.  not used to seeing him outside of the biking world and certainly when we were both sober.  Small world.  My BP was good especially considering I had stopped the Lisinopril 5 days earlier.  Dr. Wick was behind so they asked if it was alright if I saw Jolene, his PA, whom I have seen many times.  Honestly, I'm more comfortable with her and she knows me better.  She got me off the ACE inhibitor and onto a calcium channel blocker, off the diuretic (a cause for the gout) and on a gout pill.  I did ask for a prescription bee sting kit in case the angiodema hit me again, a real possibility according to my research, but she said to keep the Claratin and Benadryl with me at all times.  As for my heart, she said it sounded good.  Come back in 6 months.  No treadmill, no EKG, no echo cardiogram. Inquiring about my kidneys, Jolene shuffled the papers, they are fine.  Good news at last!  As for my ankle/knee, take time off the bike.  If only I could.  But wait a minute, I did take time off of it and and things got worse!  Probably the best visit to a doctor I have ever had.  It was a cold downhill ride home but I was smiling!

So now wait for the new meds to kick in.  I decided to cancel a trip to BRR to give the left leg a rest. Besides, new meds and mass quantities of beer probably not the best idea.  I have pushed things to the edge recently and it was time to leave the dice on the table.  Rest and recover.  2017 will provide many opportunities for me to ride.  Oh yeah, Max is back on all four paws.


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  2. Wowzers. Get yourself better and back out there kicking ass.