My Health, Part I - History

I have explained this story to enough people that I think I’d better write it down so I can both share it with other people who are interested and so I don’t forget anything. Once I started writing it, I got to the point where I never thought I’d finish, so I’m breaking it up into parts so I actually get somewhere. Here’s the first part…

My dad’s side of the family has had heart problems. His dad had a heart attack, his brother and my cousin have had issues with high cholesterol. My dad has a number of stents in his coronary arteries, he got a couple at a time starting in about 1997 and then the most recent four were put in at the end of 2006. In the middle of all that, he was also diagnosed with type 2 diabetes but he has followed what the doctors told him and hasn’t had too much trouble with that.

My mom, on the other hand, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes many years ago, she has been less compliant. She is now on insulin and has been in the hospital several times due to congestive heart failure and she sees a specialist for her kidneys. She also was diagnosed with sleep apnea. Besides that, in 2008 she joined the club and got several stents put in because she was having heart trouble and there was evidence that she may have had a heart attack prior to the trouble.

So, realizing my genes were not going to help me, I tried to learn what I should do to avoid this same fate. Starting in the late 1990s after my dad’s first stents were put in, I knew I had to make some changes. I knew I had to avoid getting high cholesterol, so I stopped eating any red meat (pork, beef, lamb), I avoided fat, especially saturated fat. I mostly ate vegetarian with the occasional chicken or turkey. I also stopped drinking pop, and avoided all caffeine.

In 2007, I got married and discovered something that I never knew: I snore. Once I had a partner to sleep with, she noticed that I snored… a lot. The led me, in 2008, to see an ENT specialist and got my tonsils removed, along with my deviated septum repaired. Despite being very, very painful, the tonsillectomy didn’t do much for my snoring. So, the next step was to do a sleep study. In doing the study, I learned that severe sleep apnea is defined as 30 apnea events (times that you stop breathing and could die) per hour. My study revealed that I had 62 events per hour! Using the CPAP, the number was down to, I think, 9 events per hour, so the next step was to get a CPAP machine.

The next stop in my road to health, in September 2013, I was working on my car while Katie was out of town with the kids for the weekend. I remember standing up from laying on the garage floor under the car and feeling a pain in my stomach. I went inside and got cleaned up. The pain got worse and worse, by the time Katie got home I was unable to stand up, sit or lay down (curling up in a ball was the only remaining option). A co-worker had just had appendicitis so I was convinced that was what was happening. Then, due to the intense feeling that I needed to explode, we decided that maybe I was constipated. My wife got me a laxative, but before I finished it, she read that if you have appendicitis that you should absolutely not take it. I stopped, but by then I was so sick, I threw it all up anyway. It wasn’t getting better so my wife took me to the emergency room. On the way I was so uncomfortable, I remember accusing Katie that she got me pregnant and I was about to have a baby. At the hospital the nurse was not very helpful, but the doctor came in, asked a few things, then said “well, we’re going to do some tests, but you have a kidney stone”. Just knowing that was a start. He followed that with some dilaudid in the IV and after a few seconds I finally felt some relief (that stuff is great!).

continue to part 2