Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My Man is Back

My title for this post may need some explaining.  My regular readers may be wondering where my man has been.  In fact, they may wonder where I have been since it has been over two weeks since I last posted.  So, let me fill you in on what has been happening around here.

Jim, my man, sometimes known as my main squeeze, did not actually go anywhere.  He just has not been himself for quite some time.  As some of you might recall, in December of 2011, my husband dodged a major heart attack when it was discovered that he had a 95% blockage of his LAD.  You can read about that health scare here: Nails Dodges the Big One.

After this major life event, my husband was able to bounce back with renewed energy.  He lost weight, ate a more healthy diet, exercised three or more times a week on the elliptical machine, and walked a couple of miles a day.  Just one month after this crisis with my husband's heart, I fell down our basement stairs and suffered a head injury.  This meant he became the caretaker for me.  He took care of all the household tasks and drove me everywhere I needed to go.  More than that, he supported me through a very rough time in my life as I tried to overcome a traumatic head injury, a vestibular disorder, and debilitating anxiety.  At the same time, we had a very challenging new puppy that did not respond well to training.  Nails, another nickname for my dear husband, proved how tough and determined a man he was once again during this difficult time in our lives.  At a time when he should have been recuperating, he took care of me, and trained a difficult pup while recovering from having a stent placed in his heart just a few months before.

Early this summer, just as I was finally getting better, Jim began to experience some health symptoms that were perplexing.  He was extremely tired, his energy level was very low.  He no longer had the energy to work out or walk.   He seemed to be nauseated on a constant basis.  He experienced body aches, and he became nearly unable to walk because of pain in his hip.  Not only that, but he also began to suffer from depression.  I would ask him to describe what he was feeling, and he would say, "I just feel like I have a general malaise."  At first, I feared that his heart was bothering him again, but he did not have any heart related symptoms.  Every afternoon, he and I would each go to our individual studies, sit in our easy chairs, and take long afternoon naps.  His exercise routine stopped.  He suffered a lot of pain in his hip which did not allow him to walk far.

In September, after a summer of seeing my husband's health steadily decline, we decided he needed to be checked out by his cardiologist just to see if we could get some answers to solve the mystery as to why he was suffering from this strange malaise.   It was an observant LPN at the cardiologist office that discovered that the calcium levels in his blood were very high.  We were referred back to  our internist.  She seemed to have an idea about what could be going on with him and sent him to the hospital for additional testing that included scans of his neck.  After all the testing was done, we were told that he had hyperparathyroidism.  My husband was then referred to an ear, nose, and throat specialist.  Thankfully, we knew a great ENT, one we trusted and liked.  He reassured us that surgery would most likely solve his problems.

There is a mnemonic that our endocrinologist gave us to describe the hypercalcaemia that comes about because of hyperparathyroidism.  It goes like this:   Stones, bones, groans, thrones, and psychiatric overtones.  When one has hyperparathyroidism, there is a high level of calcium in the blood that causes these symptoms:
  • Stones (renal or biliary)
  • Bones (bone pain)
  • Groans (abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting)
  • Thrones (sit on throne - polyuria)
  • Psychiatric overtones (Depression 30-40%, anxiety, cognitive dysfunction, insomnia, coma)* 
*Wikipedia

Needless to say, none of these symptoms are fun.  That is why we wanted to hurry up and have surgery to remove the offending parathyroid.  There was just one problem, Jim was on Plavix.  He had to be cleared by his cardiologist and taken off of Plavix before he could have surgery.  So, back to the cardiologist we went.  He said that he could not clear him because he was sticking with protocol and keeping him on the blood thinner at least until the one year date after the stent was placed in his heart.  One cannot argue with the wisdom of this decision even though it seemed that the hyperparathyroidism was filling my husband's daily life with other health challenges that made it so difficult for him.

Early in the morning of the Monday after Thanksgiving, I noticed my husband seemed to have a drooping mouth when I looked at him for the first time that day.  Stunned by this, I had him go through the FAST test.  He could smile, he could raise his arms, his speech was normal, but I decided that I was not convinced that he was not having an incident.  I had him take his blood pressure. It was incredibly high.  Wasting no time, I insisted he let me drive him to the hospital.


At the hospital, after getting an EKG, and after not performing too well on an initial neurological exam, he was admitted to the hospital where he spent two days being evaluated for stroke or TIA.  A stroke was ruled out, but it was determined, as it usually is with TIA, that the results were inconclusive as to whether or not he suffered a TIA.  He was told he was extremely at risk for stroke, and he was watched very carefully for those two days in the hospital.  Needless to say, that was a very scary time.

On December 6, 2012, exactly one year after the heart incident, Jim was able to go off Plavix.  We contemplated having his surgery done on December 20th.  He even scheduled it for that date.  Then, we decided we did not need to have the additional stress that surgery brings just days before Christmas. I'm glad we made this decision, even though Jim continued to not feel well and suffered from high blood pressure and other symptoms.

Finally, last Thursday, January 17, Jim had surgery to remove at least one of the parathyroids that had tumors.  It was unclear whether or not he had tumors on more than one because the scan clearly showed one and hinted at another.  He came through surgery with flying colors.

The next day, it seemed like I had my man back.  He was downstairs at his desk working and talking with friends on the phone with his old personality and sense of humor back in place.  He wanted to get out and go.  We went shopping.  He had a new bounce in his step.

The next day, he was tired from surgery, and he most likely overdid a bit the day before.  Everyday has shown improvement.  Today, he went in and had an epidural/steroid shot in his hip to alleviate the pain in his hip from spinal stenosis.  That procedure also went extremely well.


Despite this bout with bad health and pain, that is hopefully behind him, I have continued to be amazed by this dear man I had the good fortune to marry.  Each day, he has spent time with his beloved dog Boston. Each day, he cares for this dog by feeding him, walking him, continuing to train him, and spending quality time with him just sitting on the back deck admiring the mountain range behind us.   Boston is his good buddy and loyal companion.




Each evening, you will find my dearly beloved sitting in front of the fireplace reading.  He loves  reading those thrillers.  He never fails to remark how much he love our new home and how happy he is that we made this move.

He wants to get back to the gym and start tearing up the elliptical machine again.  He wants to get back to walking every day.  He has started doing Pilates on the reformer.  Yes, my man is back!  I am so grateful.

29 comments:

Jackie said...

So glad that all turned out well with your husband's health. What a relief and a blessing to have him "back" again. I pray for continued good health for him and for you, too, my friend. I am so happy that you are enjoying your new home and your husband's new-found health.
Continued blessings to you both.
Love,
Jackie

Perpetua said...

Sally what a terrible year you have both had. I'm so sorry to read about the health problems you have had top cope with and am very glad that the operation is already having such a beneficial effect on Jim. Very best wishes for his continuing recovery.

PS I love the photo of Jim and his beautiful dog contemplating the view. :-)

Arkansas Patti said...

Holy cow, you two have really been through it. Your head injury, Jim's increasing disability, moving(which can break the strongest) and a new dog. Wow. I think that is how you spell S T R E S S.
What an awful time Jim had and not to be able to do anything about it for such a long time due to the drug he needed for the stent. Wow again. I had a friend with a parathyroid removed and it was a real quality of life changer. I do hope you both are on the fast track to health now. I'll pray that 2013 is a cake walk for you both. You are due.

Jean said...

What a story! So glad you have your husband back, and you do because you had your "husband's back" all along the way. Excellent job keeping an eye on him and observing the subtle clues. Love the photo of him and Boston. Boston's got his back, too.

DJan said...

I had no idea you were going through this with Jim. I am so happy to hear that he's so much better now. Seems to me he really needed that surgery earlier, but at least it's behind him now. Congratulations on making the decisions that have allowed the two of you to be happily living in a wonderful place with health restored for both of you! :-)

Olga said...

First of all, you have been missed. But how very glad I am to hear that all turned out so well. You both had so much to deal with over the past year, I really hope you can relax and enjoy your new home in the new year.

Betsy Adams said...

Praise God for your man--and for mine... We are lucky women, Sally--you and I....

So glad that Jim is doing so well. Bless his heart...

Hope you will continue to have your man for many years to come...

Enjoy your new home!!!
Hugs,
Betsy

Grandmother said...

This is such excellent information regarding a number of medical problems. But, I'm sorry that your man, Jim, went through them. It may save another life. Thanks.

MerCyn said...

What a very long, long year for both of you. It is wonderful to hear Jim is finally his active self again. I hope 2013 is a positive, happy and healthy year for both of you - and Boston too!

becca said...

So glad that all turned out well with your husband's health.

thisisme said...

Hi Sally. Goodness me, poor Jim certainly went through it, didn't he?! You must have been so worried during that that time, and I am so thankful that your man is back. Good health really is everything, isn't it? You certainly have a real gem there. :D

rosaria williams said...

We had no idea! Your life has been full of twists and turns, and moving all by itself is a major stress factor. I'm glad Jim is sitting back, pain free, and beginning to heal and enjoy his life. You all deserve some dull days ahead.
May the new year bring you nothing but crumbs of excitement in the health section of your calendar.

hunter party of one said...

Sally, I hope you don't mind if I share this with a few friends. We are all very happy that Jim is recovering well.

Chatty Crone said...

Well - you sure have had your hard times - I am so sorry. But I am glad he is okay. I don not have those symptoms but my calcium level is a little high - was his? Andy how this is just awesome news. Take care of each other as I know you will. sandie

LC said...

I have missed you. So glad this hard time is easing.

Linda Reeder said...

What an ordeal - the long litany of health problems you two have had. Let's hope that's the end of it for quite a while!

Kay said...

Oh my gosh, Sally! You and Jim have been going through so much. It's really a blessing that you have each other for support.

I was just visiting a cousin at the hospital today who had a stroke on Monday. It's such a scary thing. I didn't realize that the parathyroid could cause all this. Wow!

Friko said...

How big is that boulder of weight you now have had lifted from your shoulders? What a year it’s been for the two of you.

I am sorry it’s been so hard and frightening but breathe a sigh of relief with you that it’s all over.

My husband had a series of TIAs too; since he’s been on medication he hasn’t had any recurrences.
Good luck to both of you - and all of us.

Jeanie said...

What a lot you have both been through. I hope all of that is behind you and that the new year and your new home will bring good health to you both.

Jeanie said...

Oh, Sally, what a year or so you two have had -- all that, plus the move, which is exhausting when you are skippy hop up to par. I can see why you would be ever so concerned and am very happy that the problem is gone and jim is "back!" And all the better for it. Grateful doesn't cut it sometimes, does it? It's such an easy word but oh, it means all the world. I'm very happy for you, my friend.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

What a journey for you both. I'm glad that he is back, so both of you can return to living your lives fully. I hope things stay on a nice even keel for you for a while!

Sandi said...

It appears that 2013 is off to a running start for you two! So glad surgery went well and your man is back! It was so nice to catch up on what is happening in your life. Take good care of each other! Big hugs!

#1Nana said...

Such good news! Just like the women in our Vashon group, I feel like I know Jim. I'm glad he's on his way to full recovery.

Dee said...

Dear Sally, what a year you've had. I never realized all this was going on with your husband, Jim. And I'm so appreciative of your sharing this story with us--a story that caused me to feel real anxiety for the two of you and then to feel such hope that all is going to be well.
How relieved you must be.

I so liked the photograph of Jim and Boston together, looking into the distance. Such a bond between them.

Sally, I know you've been away from blogging for a couple of weeks. Well, I've been away from reading and commenting on blogs for about six weeks and so I've missed a lot of what has been happening in the lives of the bloggers/friends I follow.

If there any any of your postings that you'd especially like me to read, please e-mail the URLs to me or insert them in a comment box on my blog. Thank you. Peace.

Isabelle said...

Dear me, but - excellent that things are improving.

Barb said...

Oh, my! Bob and I have been under the weather ourselves through January, and I must have missed this. You and Jim have been through some scary times! Hopefully he'll relax and recuperate now that the surgery is over. I'm thinking this episode certainly didn't do your own anxiety any good! You have had some major stress in the last couple of years. Here's to a calm 2013!

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

I have been absent from blogging much but missed reading your posts. Now I am catching up. I'm so glad that your hubby is doing better. It has been a rough time for both of you. The move may have been a great idea but the stress it added came at a bad time. Thank goodness there's an upside now!

Lorna said...

I am very happy for you. You did not lose him. I did. Life has not been the same. I also lost my dog this past October, 2012.

~Lorna
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Lorna said...

I am very happy for you. You did not lose him. I did. Life has not been the same. I also lost my dog this past October, 2012.

~Lorna
_______________________________________