From the archives …
Tweet with us!
I just did not see it coming.
It was a gorgeous Friday afternoon in late June of 2009. I had come home to change into more casual attire to attend a semi-regular event my boss liked to call her soiree. These were meetings for all her direct-reports that began with business, but fairly quickly evolved into a social occasion in her beautiful Florida condo. I was feeling great. We had weekend plans. I was not on-call over the weekend. Everything felt like it was all good.
There had been some rocky roads previous to this time. I had been diagnosed with prostate cancer three years prior. I had the “big surgery”. During the time that I was out something, that I guess will remain a mystery for me, happened at work that would create significant difficulties for me. But on this day, I was cancer free and feeling stronger. The work situation had evened out as an administrator left and I was re-assigned to my current boss for whom I had a tremendous amount of respect. There were a couple of concerns – I had been gaining weight and my blood presssure was up, and I would occasionally get a little more tired than I liked. But my doctor was pretty happy. I was following a work-out routine at the gym and my labs were all fine. My physician and I have known each other for more than 20 years, so he had a pretty good feel for me. He felt that I have just experiencing some hang-over from the medical issues and professional stressed that had occured. To be on the safe side he prescribed medication for the hypertension. Other than that, it was “see you in three months.” And I was feeling like the past was only in the rear view mirror. I guess we both should have have paid attention to the gathering clouds.
But on this particular Friday, I was feeling great. I was looking forward to that afternoon, and planned, on the way to the beach, to stop and buy a bottle of wine as my contribution to the festivities to follow. I changed, and had a quick lunch. I went to brush my teeth – and as I did I felt my gag reflex kick in. I coughed, and rinsed my mouth, and stood there – I had a very odd feeling – no pain, just something was not right. Then I coughed, feeling like something was tickling the back of my throat. I covered my mouth with my hand, and after a large cough, I was shocked to see in my hand a quarter sized amount of blood. That’s never happened. Probably just a blood vessel in the back of my throat, I figured, and since I was again feeling fine, almost decided to ignore it. But I guess spending nearly 30 years in the medical world left some common sense intact. I called Sandra, my wife who happens to also be a skilled nurse, and told her what happened. To my dismay, she didn’t blow it off. She said I needed to call Dr. G (no, not her, my primary!). I told her I really didn’t need to, I had this meeting at my boss’ house, blah, blah, blah. She told me that if I didn’t call she would. So I did, thinking the office would be closed for lunch, I would leave a message, and they would call me later and I’d be merrily on my way. But no, my good friend answered the phone himself. I told him my story, and my blood vessel theory, but he told me to come to the office anyway. OK, it was on the way to the beach – I might be little late, but I could still make the soiree.
Well, that plan didn’t work. He did a quick stick to look get a read on my blood levels, looked at me and said “I’m admitting you to the hospital”. And the rain began. Dr. G. was not in a huge rush, so I had a chance to call my boss, explain I wouldn’t be able to make the meeting and that I was sure that I would see her on Monday. I called Sandra, and she had to finish with a patient she was working with, sounded just a bit frustrated that it seemed like our weekend just got rained out, and I went home to throw a few things in a bag. We got to the hospital around dinner time and, I was NOT in a good mood – those were the first storm clouds. I felt fine – I had no further incidents – I was, pardon me, really pissed sitting in a wheelchair being taken to a hospital room. It took a hospital minute (meaning about two hours) of sitting around before a doctor came in. He was a GI guy, very serious, who told me that I was to have an endoscopy in the morning – and he sure did not seem happy about spending his Saturday that way. And I got the jug of prep stuff to drink. Sandra wisely decided she’d see me in the morning.
The hurricane struck – my last recollection was taking a sip of that terrible tasting stuff, realizing I had a problem, and barely making it to the bathroom. My next memory was waking up in an intensive care unit, with my wife, my father, sister, and three kids surrounding me. I knew that wasn’t good because with the exception of my wife and one daughter, they all lived out of town. It took a few days, but what I learned is that I developed an acute internal bleed. It was bad enough that my wife was told I had a good chance of not surviving. I did, but then it kept coming. My liver was failing.
So, in a matter of about eight hours I went from sailing on a bright, warm and sunny day to fighting for my life in a storm so big and so huge that it would take a miracle to get out of.
I just did not see it coming –