Surviving the Summer of Health Hell Scares

The wheel of health care fortune did not spin in the direction of good news for me this summer.  It was like the demons from Hell had my number and decided to scare the shit out of me just because they could or could they?

Pandemonium by Martin

Pandemonium by Martin (Photo credit: krishna81)

You see I have been doing a lot of mind/body/spirit work and I have hired people who in addition to conventional medicine, got me through with healing energy, essential oils, channeling spirits to guide me, Reiki and holistic massage. If this is all too “woo-woo” for you, stop reading now, if not sit back and enjoy the ride because it was a wild summer.

It all began when I was pulling into a parking spot for my regular manicure/pedicure and as I applied the brakes to my car, my flip-flop slipped off the brake pedal and onto the gas pedal but my brain was still applying the brakes.  You got it, pedal to the metal as I hit the curb and was air born into a plate glass window of a beauty shop.  I was in complete total shock.  I was so discombobulated over this that I couldn’t dial 911.  I couldn’t dial my husband.  I could drop the F bomb though I clearly remember that.

The police/fire truck/ambulance crew arrived at the same time my husband did and I just handed it all over to them.  I had the presence of mind to call my attorney for advice and he told me to get in that ambulance and go to the hospital.  I listened.  My chest hurt, the seat belt had grabbed me hard so I did not argue.

After being poked, prodded, filmed and scanned the ER doctor came to tell me nothing was broken but.  That “but” is how my summer of health Hell began.  I looked at him and he said “But you have a 4.4cm by 4.2cm Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm.  This news shocked me to my bones and drove nails of fear into my heart.  Then he turned and walked out of the room.  I immediately jumped off the ER “bed” and followed him to ask WTF this meant.  Was I going to rupture, bleed out and die and at any moment?

I often wonder why people without people skills ever become doctors.  He assured me I was probably ok, and told me to follow up with my personal doctor.  Being that I am a nurse and knowing that the doctor who takes care of my annual sinus infections is just not savvy enough to deal with this, I got on my iPhone immediately for help.

When we got home I called hospitals all over the country for advice ending with the best heart hospital in the world in my home town, the Cleveland Clinic.  They gave me great advice and told me I should go to Cleveland Clinic Florida for an assessment and told me the name of their recommended Cardiologist.  I made an appointment, but the earliest was a month down the road.

I felt comfortable with the advice and the following day I went to have my annual mammogram.

If you do not know my life, then let me catch you up quickly.  I had breast cancer 19 years ago.  I have had a couple scares but I have always been just fine.  I go for the squeeze em/pleeze em exam and the technician asks me if I noticed any changes or had any concerns.  I admitted to feeling a thickening in my right breast and she told me that won me an automatic Ultrasound of the breast.

I was fine with that, and after my mammo I was escorted to the USN room.  When that was done I was told the Radiologist would look at the films and might even come in to re-do an area.  This is H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, we get our results the same day so I wasn’t concerned.  The tech came in with the doctor who said “Carole, you need to have a biopsy, you have a mass in your right breast.”  Shit.

Let’s see Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm on Monday, breast mass on Wednesday and as my clinician said to me later that day “You are having the diagnosis week from Hell.”  He was right.

I returned the following Monday for the biopsy and this is not a “same day news” day for me, so all I could do was go home and wait.

I shared this news with a dear friend who started working with me on my mind set.  She sent me many emails.  She referred me to many different websites, she sent me book titles I should read.  I went to my holistic massage therapist, Jackie, and for the first time ever I asked for a Reiki treatment.

Jackie was working on me.  I told her nothing ahead of time, I let her energy work on mine.  She immediately found an energy cell over my breast bone which is the area that hurt after the accident.  She told me it was stuck there and could not get out.  She went to work.  All of a sudden her face changed, she started to perspire.  She got flushed and she told me that she had channeled a Native American medicine person and who was I to argue with that, I would take all the help I could get.  After the Reiki treatment we did aromatherapy with essential oils. I do not doubt holistic therapies.  When I was diagnosed with breast cancer I did guided imagery during radiation.  I carried a healing crystal with me into the radiation room.  I have a very open mind when it comes to healing.

The next 24 hours I felt the heat of hot coals in that breast bone area that eventually disappeared and took the discomfort with it.

Two days later I got the phone call that told me my mass was old surgical scar debris and non-malignant.

I am feeling pretty darn full of myself again, it’s time for FL Realtor convention in Orlando.  I got to the meeting hotel in Orlando but ended up in the ER of a hospital there with horrific abdominal pain that made me unable to walk.

I remember thinking it could be the damn aneurysm so off we speed to the hospital.  We don’t have a clue as to what it really was, I am still to this day not diagnosed other than to say it might have been my gallbladder.  I was poked, prodded, filmed, scanned, and more but nothing showed up and after I was there for about 2 hours the pain had disappeared.

I don’t like being left undiagnosed, but it is what it is, and I am working with a GI specialist to see if we can figure this out.  I said yes to the Ultrasounds of my abdomen and pelvis and I am not doing an upper GI for one episode of stomach pain.  Time will tell, it either happens again or it never happens again.

Finally I am at my appointment in Ft. Lauderdale, which is 5 hours from where we live.  My wonderful and kind Cardiologist tells me in order to really know what is going on I need an Echocardiogram and a CTA (CT Angiogram).  I schedule these for the following week.

I was so impressed with Cleveland Clinic Florida.  The staff, the doctors, everyone was just so professional.  After I had my two tests I saw my doctor again and we were told that the original measurement from the CT when I had the car accident was really off.  The ECHO showed a much smaller enlargement, and in fact my doctor had a problem calling it an aneurysm.  He was certain everything on the CTA would confirm I was really in good heart health.  The ECHO showed no valve problems, no heart chamber issues, and no atherosclerosis in my aorta.  I was thrilled.

English: The Kraken roller coaster ride at Sea...

English: The Kraken roller coaster ride at Seaworld in . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The following Monday he called me to tell me he was right.  My enlargement was only 4.o cm and I could do almost anything I want to do with the exception of any heavy lifting, pushing or pulling, or straining.  I could in fact ride roller coasters and zip line.  These were two things I did  not want to give up.  I was ecstatic but then he said there was an incidental discovery and my heart stopped momentarily.

It seems I have a 5mm nodule in my left lung and a bunch of scattered nodules in my right lung.  Shit.

I hung up the phone and got on line.  I ended up calling the Thoracic department of H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, and got an appointment there to see a specialist a month from then.  All this waiting around you would think I would lose weight from the stress.

I did what all girls do, I left town on business.  I went and worked with a publisher friend, and we did some Reconnection Therapy.  It was wonderful.  The woo-woo experiences I had doing this blew my mind.

The thoracic appointment happened yesterday.  I cannot say enough good things about this appointment and my new doctor without sounding like I am in love.  Larry is in love too.  Dr K is the epitome of professionalism, patience, and more.  He is what a doctor should be.  He told me diagnosis like mine will drive all of us crazy because many times there is no answer.  It is a wait and see situation with a Thoracic CT scan in 6 months to see if there are any changes.  No changes, a repeat scan in another 6 months.  No changes, we go to e year, still no changes it’s considered benign.

He went into great lengths to tell me it did not look like breast cancer in the lung.  He told me in his opinion I am way too far out for that.  He should know, it’s his field.  He also told me that the nodules do not look like radiation damage.  He thinks the scattered nodules are a past infection.  The 5 mm nodule doesn’t concern him now and he sent me home feeling like I had finally left Health Hell Scares for a while.

The stomach thing – well as I said – not ready for a tube down my throat at this time.

The best thing out of all of this is the two trips my wonderful husband planned.  We went away for Labor Day to an area in Florida where we could relax, and we won a trip to a lovely hotel in St. Pete and booked it for October.

I am relieved, I am happy that 99% of my news has been good news and on top of all this I committed to a new diet and exercise program, after all I only have one body, one go-round.  I need to be a better house for everything to live within and I do not want to repeat this summer’s fun. Oh and those demons are gone – no power over me.






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