Friday, September 16, 2011

A few pints low...

For the second time in my life I narrowly avoided the reaper this week. What started off as symptoms of a potential bout with the flu last Thursday turned into a racing heartbeat and extreme lethargy over the weekend and ended with me in the emergency room Monday morning eight pints of blood low and at death's door. Turns out I have been slowly losing hemoglobin for months, and even though my body had compensated well, this weekend I hit the point of no return.

So instead of life as usual (like there is such a thing) I have spent the past week receiving blood transfusions, MRI scans, upper and lower GI probes (always highlight events) and a barrage of shots, shots and more shots. I think the worst part, with the exception of drinking the GI GoLytley prep, is that I haven't had solid food since Sunday night.

As for what happened, while we don't know all of the details yet I will piece together what I think happened. About nine or ten months ago I started periodically bleeding internally. The cause of the bleeding stemming from pressure caused by my liver. This in turn affected my spleen causing it to begin reducing my red blood cells. Although my body compensated for a long time, I started feeling colder at my extremities (if that ever happens to you, go see the doctor immediately) especially at night. My skin color got gradually paler and paler as I lost more and more blood. My energy level was impacted but again my body compensated and just took stored energy from other areas of my body. During the final weekend, my body just couldn't keep up and my heart started racing. I could physically feel my heart pounding and I could hear it in my ears and head. I slept most of that weekend and had I not gone into the ER on the advice of my boss on Monday and instead gone home to sleep, I would have most likely never gotten up again. When you lose too much blood, you organs start to fail and that is bad.

Fortunately, by the grace of God, almost ten years to the day of my last miracle, I found myself in the care of Presbyterian Hospital of Huntersville (an awesome hospital with a great staff) where I am receiving the best care and hopefully will determine why my blood is not behaving correctly. The big thing I have learned from this ordeal is that medical science is the most complicated science of them all. The human body is a not just a single machine, but more a gestalt of many machines all working together; some with mutual dependencies. So when something is not working, it is not a simple this plus that equals reason. The answers are much more complicated and the process of elimination takes time.

The team of doctors working on me are examining each piece of the puzzle and hope to have the problem mapped out soon. Once we know the cause we can determine a solution.

In the meantime, I have time to reflect on all that is important in life. Yesterday I got to eat liquids (I had only had clear liquids til then) and enjoyed tomato soup and grits. As I said to my boss, it's the little things that make life worth while. For me that includes having my wife and kids around me and my parents who were coming to watch my son play a JV football game Thursday and got to see me too. I even received a YouTube video from my team at work wishing me well. Now that's what it is all about - family and friends!

More to come.

- Ken

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