Yesterday I had my visit with Dr. Daniel Lee, my cardiologist. I love that man; him and I are kindred smart-asses.
I had had a heart attack in October, 2014 and a stent was put inside one of my arteries. Dr. Lee put me on Plavix, a blood thinner, as well as a statin drug, and low-dose aspirin at that time. He told me then that he wanted me to stay on the blood thinner for a year.
This created some problems for me because I already had an appointment scheduled in just a few weeks after the heart attack with my ear, nose and throat specialist, Dr. Scott Baker, to have my sinuses rotor-rootered because of my many allergies, headaches and constant sinus infections. But now that I was on the blood-thinner medication, I had to cancel that and I would have to wait a whole year before I could have that procedure done.
In addition, I was supposed to have my right knee replaced because it was now bone-on-bone, with no synovial fluid in that joint to cushion it. That was putting a lot of stress on my two lower leg bones. My orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Bransilav Behan, was very afraid that those two bones could likely break because of how bad my knee had become. So that had to be put on hold as well and I had to endure that intense pain for a year.
In addition to all of this hot mess of medical problems that I have, I had seen my rheumatologist, Dr. Carlos Diola, last week. He had diagnosed me with rheumatoid arthritis last year, in addition to the osteoarthritis problems I had began to have several years ago.
We are still trying to find the right RA medicine that I can take that will not put me in the hospital like the first one he put me on did. I was in the hospital with double pneumonia for a week because that drug had so badly lowered my immune system.
After I recounted to Dr. Diola the pains in new places that I had been having in the past six months, along with unexplainable fatigue, he said that I now had fibromyalgia, which is a new set of painful places caused by unknown causes.
I was floored. I had heard of fibromyalgia and that it is an awful disease, not as bad as rheumatoid arthritis, but still a painful and sometimes difficult disease to treat.
I assumed that he meant that I now had fibromyalgia instead of the rheumatoid arthritis but he said, no, I have all three bad diseases of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and now the fibromyalgia.
Gee, how lucky can one person get? I laughingly told him, “Why don’t we just open up the medical encyclopedia and give me everything that’s in it?” He laughed along with me.
However, because I was still on the blood thinner, he could not begin to prescribe for me any medications to treat the fibromyalgia. I told him that I was seeing my cardiologist the next week and that since it would be after my heart attack a year ago, hopefully Dr. Lee would then take me off the blood thinner.
So when Dr. Lee came into my examination room yesterday, he gave me a hug and told me that I was looking great. Then he sat down and was going over my chart and my latest blood test results when I told him that I was now the proud owner of a newly diagnosed case of fibromyalgia.
He shook his head as he told me, “You’re just one fucked-up kid, aren’t you?” and I laughed like hell as I shook my head in agreement.
Then I told him that Dr. Diola could not prescribe any fibromyalgia medications because I was on the blood thinner and that I had had to postpone my knee replacement surgery as well as the rotor-rooter sinus procedure for the same reason. And I really hated having all of these pains from head to toes. So he said, “Well, you’re doing fantastic so let’s take you off the blood thinner.” Yay!
I also had to tell him that during the past six months, my blood pressure, which had always been in the normal ranges my whole life, had suddenly become a lot worse. I showed him my blood pressure measurement log that I keep of my daily readings from my home blood pressure machine. I also told him that the week previously in Dr. Diola’s office it had been 188/102, which is very, very high.
He said that he believed in taking the cautious approach to high blood pressure and that my readings at home were creeping up but he wanted to wait and check me in 3 months before he just automatically gave me blood pressure medication.
He asked me if I had had to walk quite a bit when I had seen Dr. Diola and I told him, yes, even further than I should have because he had just recently moved and I got the directions wrong in finding his office in the huge medical park buildings he was now located in.
Dr. Lee told me that with as many body parts that I have that are in pain, that causes stress and anxiety and my blood pressure will naturally go up, especially if I had to walk far or if I had injured any body part.
He said, “For instance, if I took a baseball bat and hit you in the knee, what would be your automatic response?” I immediately said, “I would kick you in the nuts!”
He started laughing so hard, he almost started choking! He then told me to sit still, he would be right back and he left the room.
I sat there, half-wondering if he was really going to find a baseball bat to find out for sure what my reaction would be. But he quickly came back in with his physician’s assistant and one of his nurses.
Dr. Lee sat down and he told me that him and I were going to recreate our last conversation, word for word. So we did and they both doubled over laughing as hard as Dr. Lee and I.
Dr. Lee told his nurse he loved me so much, he wanted her to schedule me to come in once a month just to make him laugh and she, with a big grin on her face, told him, okay, she would get right on that.
After they had left, Dr. Lee told me that he had used that example of trying to begin to explain to his patients the way the body reacts to pain and stress with an automatic increase in their blood pressure but in all of the years he had done that, nobody had responded like that to him. He said it was priceless!
I grinned as I told him it was a finely trained reflex: somebody hurts me, I will automatically hurt them back. He laughed again as he told me how funny I was and that he always enjoyed our visits.
The good news is that my heart is doing absolutely fine, and that my cholesterol levels were great as well. I can now get going on getting these other painful areas taken care of so maybe I can start to feel half-way normal again.
After our visit, I was standing at the check-out desk while his nurse was setting me up with my three month appointment while Dr. Lee sat at his desk in the corner making notes in my chart.
He got up to see his next patient and as he passed behind me, he leaned over and whispered in my ear, “I could still kick your ass!” I cracked up laughing as I told him, “I don’t think so! Bring it, baby!” We both started laughing again as he walked away.
His nurse said, “All right, children, do I have to separate you two?” And I began to laugh again as Dr. Lee turned back around and stuck his tongue out at the two of us.
I know she did not hear what he had whispered to me so I filled her in what he had said and she had already heard my response back to him and so she laughed again at the two of us.
As she handed me my appointment card, I told her to tell Dr. Lee that I would meet him at dawn with dueling pistols and she laughed as she said, “Good one! I will most definitely tell him that, he’ll get a big kick out of it!”