It’s Alive, It’s Alive!

It’s hard to believe that two weeks ago today I was technically dead. That my heart was stopped, my body put on a heart/lung bypass, and several things done while they had the chance. To my mind, they did three things: First, they replaced several arteries where the walls had become inflamed/thickened. Second, they put a metal clip on a spot on the back of my heart to prevent blood clots from forming. Third, they used both heat and cold on several spots to stop those areas as they were contributing to the atrial fibrilation.

They actually sent me home six days after the procedure, and while I do have a tendency to push and overdo things, I also have friends and a visiting physical therapist who cut me down to size very quickly on that. So, trying to follow the process, get in some good exercise without violating any restrictions, and slowly build back my strength and heal.

There has been very little pain involved in all of this. In fact, I’ve been amazed at how little pain there has been. After all, among other indignities, they cut my sternum in half, used a spreader on it, then glued/sutured/put on metal plates to put it all back together then. Indeed, some of the worst pain I had was where the ribs join the spine between the shoulder blades, as that area takes the brunt of the spreader. Some muscle relaxer and that was gone before I left the hospital. The worst part remains getting up in the morning, as the movement to get up and start getting out of bed without twisting everything is interesting, and you manage a bit of that anyway.

I don’t think anyone would have bet on my going home so soon. The first two or three days, everytime they stood me up/got me to stand up, my BP crashed. I suspect that if not for the external pacemaker attached to my heart, that it might have crashed as well. Things got figured out, and I rapidly went from a walker to no support at all. Right now, I’m home and while the physical therapist has limited the number of times I can go upstairs, I am mobile and as active as circumstances and guidelines allow. I do have a ways to go, but things are looking good right now.

The one thing I can’t emphasize enough right now is how gratefull I am for all the prayers and support that have come my way. I’m typing this post while sitting in a recliner that a number of my co-workers at the day job chipped in to get me when they found out I was going to buy one. The financial generosity of those who hit the tip jar has me covered for now in terms of bills and such while I don’t have a paycheck. Finally, the many prayers and good wishes have had an effect, and I don’t think I would be as far along as I am without them. God bless you all, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you!

More soon!

An Unexpected Development

Things got interesting this weekend, and Monday nearly saw me sent to the ER as a result. Wednesday morning, the cardiologist’s office did send me to the ER, and I was admitted. Spent last night in ER, then had a heart cath this morning. Unfortunately, they found some things that they could not fix. So, at app. 0700 tomorrow morning, I will have open heart surgery.

On one level, I am not looking foward to it. On another, I am really hoping they can get in, fix all the problems (which now includes pretty bad a-fib), so I can move back out on life. It will be rough, but… I’m annoyed that the new issues may impact all the other treatments, as I think I finally have gotten the logjam on TBI therapy busted up a bit. We will see.

By the way, if you aren’t reading Sarah A. Hoyt at her site or at Instapundit, you are truly missing some good reads. Her comment on my previous post is one I needed, and should be read by anyone having concussive or TBI issues. I can’t say how much I thank her for that comment, as it does mean a great deal to me.

I hope to be back to updating my journey soon, and sadly I will have the time as I will be off work for at least six weeks, and potentially up to three months. Hoping for the former, but years back learned that pushing too hard would set you back even worse. Going to try to do this right.

Be kind to each other, look after each other, and no mercy to those who despise liberty and individual rights. It is a beautiful world, enjoy it. See you in a few days I hope.

EDIT: As always, prayers very much appreciated. Feel free to hit the tip jar if you like.

Quick Update

First, my apologies at the delay in posting, and in getting out individual thank you’s to everyone I can reach. I’m spending a lot of time exhausted, but hope to get started on things Thursday. I am shocked, awed, and humbled at all of the support. It means a lot, a lot more than I can say.

Yesterday’s nuclear imaging stress test did not get the results the cardiologist wants/needs. As a result, in the coming weeks I will have to undergo a heart catheterization. The goal is to go in, figure out what is going on with one area of my heart, and if it can be fixed during the procedure, fix it. It is not what the cardiologist or I wanted, especially as I’m allergic to the dye/contrast to be used and that increases the risk. At the same time, if it can lead to fixing the issue, I’m all for it as I’m tired of being exhausted. That exhaustion is one reason I’m behind on a lot of personal things, including getting out the individual thank you notes. Right now, I’ve been having to use my days off just to rest up and recover.

More soon.

In The Blink Of An Eye

As the few who check in here have noticed, I’ve not posted in a while. I had already slowed down as a result of the new day job, but there’s been nothing for a while. There is a reason for that.

This is a post that is hard to write, and it is a post I never expected to write. I am, to put it mildly, glad to be here to write it and have already given thanks many times for the this. That said, life has taken some very unexpected and difficult turns.

Growing up, my Dad and I loved to watch thunderstorms. In particular, I remember sitting with him more than once on the porch of our cabin watching the storms roll down the ridges and mountains. When it got close, we would go inside.

On June 30 at approximately 0445 hours, I was sitting on the covered front porch of the house where I rent a room, drinking coffee and reading the news on my phone. To my north, about a mile to a mile-and-a-half away, a thunderstorm was moving off and I was enjoying watching the light show from what I thought was a safe distance. I was wrong. Turns out, as storms break up lightning can and does hit miles away.

One second I was reading one of my regular reads (Instapundit, I think, not real clear at this point) when a bolt of lightning hit somewhere off to my right. The blinding flash and roar were almost simultaneous, and as I lost sight my body clenched up tight. I distinctly remember having a brief Buckley moment, thinking “This is going to hurt” and wondering if when my eyes opened/worked if I would be looking at Heaven, hell, or other. When my eyes could see again and my body unclenched, I was delighted to see I was still on the porch.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that while the main bolt did indeed miss me, a part of it came over to say hello. While I normally prize manners, I really wish it hadn’t. Not realizing I had been hit, I went inside, gave thanks to God and the Blessed Mother, and went to work. The next day, I did not feel good and despite being light-headed thought I just had a bug. I called my doc and went in to see a nurse practicioner. We talked about the strike, but she admitted it was the first time at that practice they had seen someone who had been so close to a strike and I needed to watch myself carefully. Meantime, some of the symptoms did seem like a bug so we treated it as such. A couple of weeks later, I spent four hours in the ER with cardiac issues including a BP that was well above stroke range.

Since then, I’ve learned a lot about what it means to be hit by lightning. Most people (including a number of medical professionals) expect blast trauma and burns. They do happen but from medical papers and other resources, they are not necessarily the most common injuries. Far more common are concussion/TBI-like symptoms on the neurological side, and a variety of cardiac issues ranging from mild to severe. What happens varies widely, as the effect of the strike is much like firing a stun gun into the motherboard of a computer. You don’t know exactly what will happen, but it’s not likely to be good.

In my case, there is no clearly defined entry point. Indeed, it is possible that the charge could have built up by induction; but, there is no way to be sure. By the time we started figuring out what had happened, several weeks had passed. That said, it would appear that it exited out the ball of my right foot.

Many of the short-term effects are being, or have been, dealt with. That said, there remain cardiac issues and neurologic issues. I’m having to have yet more cardiac tests next week, and we have the BP down to more reasonable levels. I was supposed to go to TBI/concussion therapy, but there have been insurance issues so that remains in the future. It also appears I’m going to have to save up for some custom orthotics, which the insurance doesn’t cover.

The long-term prognosis is mixed. Many who are hit go on to have personality changes, problems doing things they’ve done a thousand times, or even to lose the ability to learn new things. I have had both memory and cognitive issues, and while I hope getting into the TBI/concussion therapy will help, there is no way to predict or prevent the emergence of long-term issues. While the day job has been amazingly supportive, I’ve had to miss more work than I care for, especially since I don’t get paid sick days. I’ve also had to drop the number of days I’m working, both because of fatigue/cognitive/other issues and the need to have time to go to the many doctor visits that now fill my life. If anyone cares to hit the tip jar here, it would be appreciated. Even more so as I may find myself having to explore medical disability if we can’t get things improved.

For all that there are no pre-existing conditions or physical damage to the brain, the circuits are scrambled. At this point, I’ve begun to lose confidence that we can unscramble them as the longer it takes to get into the therapy the more likely it is that short-term effects could become permanent and cascade into starting some of the long-term effects. Right now, I’m unsure I could start a new job, as the physical and mental challenges may be beyond my capability.

When I said it was hard to write this post, I meant it on several levels. It is not easy to write about my situation. Worse, it is hard to write cogently. Writing has always been something that flowed easily, which is why I was able to write so many articles about science and high-technology efforts. Writing fiction is not as easy, but I’d like to think I was starting to get the hang of things.

Writing this post has been a challenge. The flow is not there, and finding the right words is a challenge. I’ve already had to go back and fix a few things where I did not have the words right. On a good day, I can write, but it seems I’ve had few of those of late. I’m really hoping this does not take my writing from me, as it has been not just a career for many years, but a release on many levels.

I’ve had challenges before, and I plan to meet this one head-on. This is a very different battle from any I’ve fought before and comes on top of others that have me being advised to move to the desert SW. I had hoped that might happen this winter, but that is now on hold.

I do not know what the future holds. I have Faith. I have friends. There are resources out there I have yet to discover. Even more than hitting the tip jar, I would very much appreciate your prayers and good thoughts. I need all of them I can get.

Onwards.

UPDATE: I am overwhelmed and humbled by the responses to this. Thank you all and I will be responding more soon. Welcome Instapundit readers! It’s been a while since I’ve seen an Installanche take down a site, but I’m seeing it did so last night. 🙂 Thank you all for the support, prayers, and encouragement offered. There truly are not words to describe how grateful I am for all. Bless you.

Memorial Day 2021

I don’t know any of them who would object to everyone having a good time, good food, and an adult libation or two; but, take a moment today to remember the real meaning for the “long weekend” we are enjoying. Remember those who paid the ultimate price for this country, for they are the reason the Republic lasted as long as it did.

Preparedness Pays: Proof Edition

This morning provided a chance to test some of my preparedness plans when the power went out in the middle of cooking breakfast. What could have been a disaster to my schedule instead turned into a minor annoyance.

First, I used my Streamlight tac light I carry in my pocket to go downstairs and get two camp lanterns, my portable chef’s stove, and a hook. Once back upstairs, I put the LE camp lantern up on an existing planter hook in the kitchen ceiling and used the hook I brought up to put up the Vont camp lantern up on a cabinet door on the opposite side of the kitchen. Then, I broke out the chef’s stove and finished cooking breakfast.

camp lanterns
Camp lanterns

The LE camp lantern is heavier than I would like for true backpacking, but provided an amazing amount of light on it’s regular setting. I could have set it higher, but really didn’t need to. The Vont was okay, but not nearly as bright though it would be my choice for backpacking. The Vont actually comes in a pack of four, which means I could have put one up in my room, the bathroom, and the common area of the basement and had plenty of light to get around.

The one thing I need to do is to get some brass cup hooks and put them up in those rooms so that I am ready to hang them if needed again. Plan to see if the landlord will mind if I put one up in the kitchen as well. Also, may look into trying to put some sort of diffuser on the Vont. May also try to sell the landlord into a UPS for the hot water heater, as while it is gas it is dependent on electricity for lighting.

I wish the LE wasn’t made in China, as I would consider buying more given how well it worked today.

Short version. Plans need to be tweaked (hooks in place), but the two-plus hour outage was simply an inconvenience instead of a morning wrecker. It ended up costing me about 15 minutes out of my schedule, which beats the heck out of a two-plus hour impact. Preparedness always pays.

Preparedness Pays And More

Sorry for the long silence, but I’ve changed day jobs and it has been intense. Good, but intense. It will also help with some of the information in Preparedness Pays as well as my preparations.

Along those lines, I suggest you read this post from Sarah A. Hoyt. Like her, I am concerned at what I see coming. Like her, I’m expanding my preparedness as fast as I can within my budget.

A suggestion for those who are just now getting into practical preparedness: buy a water bath canner and a pressure canner now. When covidmania hit, you could not find either, and had a hard time finding jars. The jar shortage continues, so stock up when you can.

More soon.

Ice Cream Shortage Continues

Sorry for the lack of posting, but some changes in life have disrupted my plans a bit. Among other things, I had an opportunity come up and am switching day jobs. I’m looking forward to the new job, especially as it offers the chance to not only build on some existing knowledge, but to do a truly deep dive into an area that is of strong interest to me. That it does so with better pay, benefits, and less chance of being in an accident is just icing on the cake as it were.

More soon.

The Great Escape: Remembering The 50

A day late, but reposting from last year.

Today, I take the time to remember the 50. On this night, in 1944, prisoners of war staged a daring large-scale escape from Stalag Luft III. The movie is good, but isn’t accurate since it was a Royal Air Force show. All but three of the prisoners who escaped were recaptured, and of those, Adolph Hitler personally ordered the deaths of 50 of them. Today, I raise a glass to them, and to all who dared and risked all to do so.

If you want to know more, go hereherehere, and here.

Preparedness Pays: Food Ennui

Day life and job have been interesting, so am running behind. This is actually something I had planned to address later, but for a number of reasons I wanted to touch on it now.

When planning food and drink supplies, keep in mind that even within a week you or your family can fall victim to food ennui. That is, you have food but not anything you want to eat. That is particularly true if you have only a limited range of food tucked away.

An easy and usually inexpensive way to fight it is to visit your local ethnic or interntational grocery stores. By picking up canned vegetables, dishes, etc. you can get a range of flavors and increase your options. Along with sauces and hot sauces, you have the means to take regular food and take it very different directions. You also tend to find very good prices on those items.

Just a quick thought to share this morning.