Coronary Artery Disease? From Where?

Last Wednesday I had a stress echocardiogram, and the results were “abnormal.” I don’t have the technical knowledge to understand the medical gibberish in the report, but the bottom line is that my doctor suspects “severe coronary artery disease.” So on Wednesday I have an appointment to see a cardiac nurse practitioner.

Heart disease runs deep in my family history. After getting furious with his doctor, who had missed a key indicator for diabetes on a routine blood test (Daddy noticed it and pointed it out), my father went home and had a heart attack at 62. For the next 13 years he had many long periods of decent health, but also many angiograms and angioplasties, not just in his coronary arteries but in femoral and carotid arteries as well. He was up on the roof one day in 1996, happy as could be cleaning tree and leaf debris off, and died in his sleep that night.

One of my younger brothers had a quintuple bypass while still in his 40s. Mom had atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure. Continue reading

Total Knee Replacement

(Written Friday, June 24, 2016)

My right knee has been bad for a long time. In it I have not only severe arthritis but Paget’s disease. This is a double whammy for pain. So I’m finally going to get a knee replacement.

See, your bones are always replacing old bone tissue with new tissue. In Paget’s, “there is an abnormal breakdown of bone tissue in specific areas. This is followed by abnormal bone formation. The new area of bone is larger, but weaker. The new bone is also filled with new blood vessels… [t]his results in deformity of the affected bones.” (Medline Plus)

My right knee is grossly deformed. It and the left knee look like they belong to two different people. Continue reading

Why I Can’t Take Chantix to Quit Smoking

Several of my doctors are really pushing me to quit smoking. I know – intellectually – that I do need to quit. The problem is, in 1999 I quit for three years and never got to the point where I was comfortable. I wanted to smoke every single day of those three years. Finally I couldn’t stand it any more and started up again.

This dramatic failure – and the fact that I really enjoy smoking – are two huge factors playing against my even making another attempt.

Still, I was willing to try bupropion (generic version of the antidepressant Wellbutrin and the anti-smoking aid Zyban). This was a major disaster.

I do have e-cigarettes, but they aren’t satisfying (maybe I bought the wrong brand?). Then they died, I couldn’t find the charger, and it took weeks for the company to send me a new one (promised in 3 days). That kind of killed my interest in using them.

My ashtray at the end of the day

My ashtray at the end of the day

But I smoke a lot: at least 2 packs a day. I have developed wheezing when I lie down. I really don’t want COPD, and I was told that smoking could have contributed to the attack of ischemic colitis I had a few years back (which could have been fatal, though I didn’t know it at the time).

There’s one more drug that has a very good record in helping people quit smoking: Chantix. But my doctors refuse to prescribe it because of my bipolar II disorder, and I agree with them. My current meds’ control over my BP and anxiety is precarious enough without adding a drug known to cause problems to people with mental illnesses. Continue reading