The last leg

Posted on Friday, February 8th, 2019 at 2:56 am

Well, it’s 40°F outside. So much for the blossom inducing spring weather we were having.


Having a bit of a reflection on the nature of living medicated. I am the survivor of an emergency abdominal aortic aneurysm patching surgery back in 2012. The bright side is that I survived 100:1 odds and that I’m still around to talk about it. The dark side is living wth the results. Granted, there are issues I haven’t discussed, and won’t. They aren’t life threatening and don’t make that big of a difference in my life. But the one major difference is hypertension.


My body, with the aneurysm, was in a condition for which my body was responding as life threatening. An when the surgery took place, and the aneurysm was altered, my body went into death shock. The cardiovascular system contracted violently to retard blood loss. This is very common in firearm wounds where blood loss is a life threatening occurrence. The body tries not to loose blood in panic mode. When repairs are made and blood replenished through transfusion, the vascular system relaxes when sensors tell the brain that things have returned to normal parameters.


In my case, the typical male adult abdominal aorta holds about a cup of blood. Mine was holding about a gallon. With the aortic patch installed during surgery, the body has never since returned to what it had become to see as normal parameters. Hence, my body never got the signal to relax the cardiovascular system. An example is my arms. My veins and arteries used to be obvious, protruding noticeably. Nurses who drew blood always were happy to see me. Now my circulatory lines in my arms are invisible, and the nurses have to poke and prod and get a second opinion. A good one will hit it first time, and I always complement them.


So I am running a tight fluid system with a strong pump, and the resistance from the arteries sends my blood pressure way into the dangerous zone. Untreated, my heart pumps very hard, experiencing a constant exercise session, and it builds mass in the cardiac muscles (especially in the left ventricle), which is not good. So I take angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) that tell the brain to relax the cardiovascular system These medications work in the lower brain, areas where conscious thought can not directly reach. Meditation has some effect, but it is fragile and not always effective. The secondary nervous system can have better results, acupressure in particular, hot water therapy, and aerobic breathing, but it is fleeting and not practical for full time control.


So that leaves me with an ARB regimen, probably for the rest of my life. ARBs are drugs that essentially affect brain function. They all have an effect that is a bit sedative, a bit fatiguing, and a little dingy. It’s harder to become inspired toward creative work, which is one of my pursuits in life. I don’t do 3D work nearly as often as I used to. Granted, “been there, done that” plays a little of that. I am more inclined to music these days. But still, I have lost a good portion of my chronic intensive edge. I am more sedentary and passive than I used to be.


Add to it that the ARBs play havoc with the kidneys. So a diuretic is usually an accompanying dosage. Edema is a constant watch. I have just started a new diuretic because of a reaction of the pulse regulation mechanism in the brain with the hydrochlorothiazide. The newly prescribed chlorothiadone seems to be handling the edema handily and not causing me some of the peripheral side effects as before. After two doses, I am hopeful.


The results of the blood tests are coming in, and they look good. My cholesterol is normal. My kidney function is adequate, and that was without diuretics in my blood stream. I haven’t seen the comprehensive metabolic panel yet, but I usually do quite well on those. All in all, I feel pretty good about the state of my being as a complex organism.


I have started accepting the slower pace. I am still alive, physically self-sufficient, still contributing to society in my own ways. The alternative of having been dead for nearly seven years is a judgement call, but I’m a tough one to bring down. Diminished by age and health is just part of the cover charge for still being here.


Tomorrow (today, actually) is the last leg of medical week. A run to College Station to have my annual follow up with the ophthalmologist. I don’t expect any cause for panic there, my vision is still acceptable. And I’ll do a little socializing in Bryan while I’m there.

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