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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

My "Check Engine" light

My mental dashboard "Check Engine" light has been blaring "on" continuously since early 2017. Or, to use another apt metaphor, I've been on

for about 19 months. SAVR px

After spending most of 2015 dealing with prostate cancer (successfully, it would thus far seem), by 2016 I was back on my Trek racing bike and back in the gym, lifting weights and holding my own at full-court pickup hoops with guys half to a quarter my age (I was 70 at the time). Mr. No-Hops, a Legend in His own Mind. He of the 6-inch Vertical, who moves in geologic time. He of the Wax Museum D...

GDaddy and the Grandson at City Sport, 2016
Dr. Daniel Kraft (cited here recently) is a fan of the "dashboard" metaphor when it comes to health monitoring apps. See a brief video featuring him, "A Virtual Dashboard of our Health." 

Cool guy. He's in a ton of videos over on YouTube.

My "Check Engine" light thing is more mundane. I don't think there are any "apps" for my evolved condition.

In January 2017 our beloved 15 yr old rescue dog Jaco was diagnosed with a large terminal tumor in his abdomen. We'd had him since we found him on a freeway ramp in Las Vegas in 2003. He was the sweetest.

The vet gave him a month or two. In late February, after monitoring him closely day-by-day, hour-by-hour, I finally had to have him put down.

Earlier in February, on the 7th, My dear old Seattle area friend of 44 years (and former bandmate, world-class drummer) Kurt Kolstad succumbed after a 12-year battle with Mantle Cell Lymphoma. Several years earlier his wife died from COPD. Too much, man, too much.

Then, on March 29th, 2017, "the dx from hell" arrived. My younger daughter was found to have Stage IV metastatic pancreatic cancer. She would live until April 27th, 2018 after a year of chemo regimens followed by 6 weeks of home hospice care here at our house.

During this time, I'd gotten a new Primary at Muir. During my first exam he told he he detected a heart murmur. He quickly looked in my chart and found my 2015 cardiac echo px (done while I was in the hospital for sepsis after my prostate biopsy). The echo result had been deemed "subclinical," but my new doc referred me to a cardiologist for closer review and follow-up.

A treadmill EKG study and series of echoes ensued ("active surveillance"), and my aortic valve condition continued to decline significantly. My dx now is "severe aortic stenosis," and I'm now scheduled for a SAVR valve replacement px in late August (ineligible for a "TAVR" but I'd decided against it anyway). I had a coronary angiogram done earlier this year, negative for blockages -- "you have the arteries of an 18 yr old" (that's gotta be my decades of gym rat hoops).

The constipating stress of Danielle's illness also surely played a role in my getting a large inguinal hernia. It got worse and worse, but cardiology refused to greenlight me for abdominal surgery, citing anesthesia risk, given my heart problem. Gotta fix the valve first. Eventually they relented, with the stipulation that I have a cardiac anesthesiologist present at the hernia scope job. Done.

That could not have gone better.

Now it's time for the Big Show. My recent chest CT confirms no aorta problem or other proximate issues, just a seriously bad valve.

I've been putting this off during Danielle's illness, and now until after my Grandson's August 10th wedding in Las Vegas, where he lives. Had it not been for these circumstances, I'd have had the SAVR px months ago. I feel like I've pushed the envelope all the way out.

Sometimes I feel like the stress of all of this has taken at least 5 years off my remaining life. I am so ready to be over all this. It's likely that I will have to miss the Health 2.0 Conference this year. I may not be cleared to drive by then. (Candidly, I'm not sure that my conference coverage M.O. is all that distinct any more, now that everyone is carrying smartphones with great optics for real- and near-real time WiFi internet sharing.)

If I don't see you there, have a great time.


THE Health IT event of the year.

More to come...

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