Historic/Biographical

Living can be Tough

The act of living is not always easy. As one ages it tends to get downright tough! I had no trouble being active until I hit the age of 58. That’s when life started throwing me difficult pitches.

Shortly after I turned 58, I had a difficult choice to make. Either remain on a drug to control a normal biological function or have surgery to correct the problem. I’m not really a fan of surgery, and being somewhat reluctant to have a very delicate part of my anatomy sliced from within itself the decision was rather difficult. What tilted it in favor of the surgery was the very high incidence of cancer in the men who use the drug for a  long time. The surgery was performed and within 3 weeks, I was better than I had been in years.

At 59, I was moving furniture from my mother-in-law’s apartment and in order to get a large unit up a single stair I had to pull rather hard on the dolly. I felt a sudden sharp pain in my left wrist but since I had more items to move, I allowed myself to ignore that pain. I iced the wrist down after we finished thinking that I had just irritated the muscles. Wrong conclusion, 3 days later I went to see my favorite orthopedic surgeon to see if he could help. I was immediately referred to an orthopedic surgeon that specialized in working with hands. An MRI revealed that I had torn some ligaments in my wrist that would need to be repaired surgically! It took about 12 weeks of careful rehab to restore the wrist to the same level of functionality I had prior to the injury!

The age of 60 found me walking with a noticeable limp. My right knee had developed a bunch of scar tissue and cartilage damage from the many years I played volley ball and was finally making me pay for the abuse. It was scoped out and repaired with no complications.

At 61, my left knee finally wore itself out to the point it needed replacement. The operation was scheduled and 2 weeks later, life hit hard! As if to say “you aren’t getting off that easy”, I was headed to visit a friend at the Mayo Clinic when I started having chest pains. Suffice it to say that heart attack #1 was underway! Three stents later, I was feeling fine, but any hope of knee replacement was put aside for at least a year. Minor heart attack #2 occurred about 4 months later with no major change in my medication, but an increase in the need for coffee.

My left knee was finally replaced at the age of 62. The 8 weeks of recovery was often brutal, but well worthwhile. The only real problem was it aggravated my right knee so much that it too needed replacement. Due to the nature of my heart problems, that had to wait until I hit 63.

With my right knee replaced at 63, I felt as if I would be home free with no further problems. Boy was that a foolish thought!

At 64, my left eyelid drooped down and took away my peripheral vision. I had to stop driving (I choose to not be a danger on the road to anyone else). The initial diagnosis, due in part to a severe pain behind the eye, was Temporal Arteritis. i was put on a high dose of Prednisone. Prednisone is a very nasty drug to be on. It led in no short order to a weakening of my bones to the point that when my dogs managed to clip me during a play session, the ball of my right hip snapped off. During the hospitalization for this problem it was discovered that I now was diabetic. I ended up having 4 more hospitalizations due to pneumonia brought on by the weakened immune response Prednisone caused and a host of other parasitic diseases that took advantage of my system. Finally, I was diagnosed with “Valley Fever”, a fungal infection that embedded itself first in my sinus behind the left eye and then due to the presence of the Prednisone, in my lungs. As the Prednisone dose got smaller (one can’t stop using it cold turkey without major complications), my condition improved.

65 managed to hit me even harder. To date, I’ve now had heart attack #3 and though my heart stopped 2 times during the stent placement, I mad a good recovery for a few weeks. Not content with being able to function, life decided to make the problems with my circumflex manifest itself into a major problem. That was brilliantly solved by my cardiologist and I felt better than I had in years for a few weeks. Life, deciding that I was getting off to easy, has hit me once again with a big problem, Congestive Heart Failure. This has caused me to cancel vacation plans, so I am going to fight back with all I have. With the help of my great cardiologist’s team, I am doing what ever it takes to beat this problem! I don’t expect it to be easy, but I enjoy a tough challenge!