They’ve caught up with me!

Those of you who read my “Lifesavers All” may recall that article ended with Dr. Platonov saying,

“I’ll see you again in November.  It would be nice if you were down to 240lbs by then.  We’ll call you to make an appointment.”

Well I did get a call from his office about a month ago telling me that I was booked in for cardiac ultrasound, to be followed by a visit to Platonov a month later.  They’ve caught up with me!  I was sort of hoping that they had forgotten me by now, and moved on to other survivors but no, they had my number and they’re not finished with me yet.  I’m not sure what the penalty will be for a weight gain.

I have had an incident-free summer since the operation.  The Rehab sessions went smoothly and, with the help of my rollator, I have been walking two miles almost every day since.  Mind you, due to my weak back, I couldn’t walk a hundred yards without that rollator; it is a gem!  I haven’t fallen once, something that seems to be very important to care-givers of old fogies like me.

Workwise, I was able to set up the gazebo top and netting as early as May.  By June, I had installed a wooden edging, lined with water repellant material, along one side of the driveway.  I also got all the outdoor furniture out and put in place, I started filling bird feeders again and generally enjoyed the following six months.  When October rolled around, I reversed the process, took down the gazebo and generally cleaned up the back garden.  All in all, I’d say that operation was a huge success; I just wish I could get the back fixed up as successfully.  Still, I’m not about to complain; in the overall scheme of things, I’ve been dealt a pretty good hand.

One very positive improvement is that I no longer get out of breath.  Sure, my legs don’t like the stairs any more than they ever did, but they don’t complain about two miles “on the flat”.  Physically, I think I am at least as strong as I was before the operation.  Lifting heavy objects is about as easy as it was before, so no complaints there.  Apparently, the bone-cutting in the chest heals in about six weeks and I’m sure my healing was pretty normal, although I still have to be careful about external pressure on my chest.

But it is interesting that my chest was very sensitive to touch for a few months, and that still prevails today although to a far lesser degree.  After the bones had reknit, there was still an acute sensitivity to pressure.  This gradually gave way to a feeling of being touched on a sunburned chest, where even the weight of a shirt was uncomfortable.  That was followed by a period when my chest and the hair upon it (which had grown back) felt alive to the touch.  It seemed to be like a bed of static electricity, and I could sense touch even if the hands never really touched the skin.  Nine months later, it is still a little sensitive and I instinctively move to protect it against any perceived threat of heavy pressure.  You can understand why I don’t like being pushed around too much!

Whether or not it’s the medication I am on now I can’t say, but I do notice that my resting pulse rate is always around 57 bpm, down quite a bit from my pre-operation rate of about 67 bpm.  Even during my two-mile walk, it seldom rises above 72 (measured along the way with the first two fingers of my left hand, as taught at Rehab.) i.e. 12 beats in ten seconds.  It’s the really odd occasion when it gets as high 15 beats or 72 bpm.  Another thing I notice is, when I finish the walk and immediately take my systolic blood pressure, it will usually be down in the 90 to 100 range.  I don’t worry about that because I read somewhere on the Internet that low readings like these occur in athletes and children.  I figured my low readings were either because I was an athlete for 50 minutes a day, or I was well advanced into my second childhood.  Either way, I figured I was a winner.

Sleeping habits have changed a bit.  I always did keep irregular hours, staying up quite late and not going to bed until I could no longer keep my eyes open.  That hasn’t really changed except I now find that I sometimes benefit from a one to three hour nap in the afternoon.  My body seems to thrive on six hours sound sleep at night plus the nap during the day.  All in all, that’s seven to nine hours sound sleep in each twenty-four period, which should be adequate.  I never have any trouble sleeping.  That may be because I do the wrong things, i.e. I never go to bed on an empty stomach, I don’t read in bed and I don’t turn the light on unless there’s a real need for it, which there seldom is.  I am quite comfortable walking in the dark because I have practiced it for years.

I don’t know what the ultrasound will show, but I’m optimistic that they’ll still find that old pump chunking merrily away.  It’s marvelous when you think about it.  Where could you buy any kind of pump in a store that is so reliable?  Sure, they had to clean out the pipes a bit last January, but that was after it had been running for eighty three years without any maintenance at all!  Those “mechanics” did a fantastic job, and it must have been a Rolls Royce creation to start with!

And so, I look forward to the ultrasound.  My only small concern is that the technician might turn to me and say, “It’s twins!”  (I always thought these ultrasounds were just for pregnant women, but apparently not.)  Of course if they say, “We didn’t find ANYTHING!” that would give me cause to worry!  In that case, well you never know, my pulse might shoot right up over 100, and I would lose my “athlete” status.  Second childhood?  Maybe I’d lose that too, but it’s doubtful!  So, it looks as though I’m in the home stretch and will soon be just an old statistical record in the Trillium Hospital vaults.

Mind you, there is one serious hurdle still to overcome and that is the U.S. Presidential Election.  This has been a stress test like no other!  Election Day is next Tuesday, and I wanted to write this blog before then, just in case I blow a gasket.  Goodness only knows what the outcome will be, in more ways than one.  Just think, if my pulse soars up over 100, I may have to call 911 again!   I wonder what would happen then.  In the Emergency Room, do they just take one look at your history and say, “Go home, take an aspirin and call us in the morning!  Next?”

Gerry Wood, Nov 05, 2016