Sunday, February 10, 2008

Becomming the Old Guy at 27

Third Day, Tunnel

This song has some significance in more than one way to the following post.

We were sitting around the control room at work last week when somebody mentioned that I was the oldest guy in our area. Me? I may be the most senior guy but I don't think I'm the oldest. :) I had to think for a moment -- yeah, they're right. I may mentally feel like I'm still 27 years old in terms of my approach to life but my body would beg to differ.

I think I first noticed the negative aspects of aging when I was 42 and my vision began to suffer. Where I was once able to easily focus on reading a newspaper I now had to have glasses if I wanted to make something out of the blurry letters. The period from not needing glasses to needing them was a window of just a few months. I was surprised at how quickly it happened. Whereas most guys I work with seem to fight the transition to wearing glasses, I didn't mind at all. Not if it meant seeing clearly again.

There have been other less noticeable changes along the way such as a lower overall heart rate when I'm working out and some assorted aches and pains. But, the biggest change of late has been a condition I was recently diagnosed with called BPH, or Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.

Yeah, I'm actually blogging about this.

I had all the symptoms and Tammy suggested I make an appointment with my physician to be sure there wasn't anything more serious at work.

My PSA results were negative and the doctor suggested that he could put me on some meds to help ease the symptoms. I don't like meds unless they're absolutely necessary and at the time I didn't feel they were, so I thanked him but took a pass.

What was I thinking?

I'd seen the commercials about 'going and going and going' a hundred times but never paid attention to them as they didn't apply to me. Now they did and I began to take notice about the claims the ads were making.

The condition grew even worse in a relatively short amount of time, most noticeably the interruption of my sleep. A few weeks ago I cried 'uncle' and made an appointment with my doctor to talk about my options. He put me on Flomax and I left his office confident that I'd soon be back to normal.

All seemed fine for the first couple days but then I noticed that I was having some issues with what I'd call mini headaches similar to what I experience during a cluster headache cycle but nowhere near the same pain level. They weren't intense enough that I needed to medicate them but they were there. Not a good thing. I phoned my doctor again last week and asked if there was a different med he could put me on where I'd maybe have less side affects. He gave me a prescription for Uroxatral. I felt good about this because my brother-in-law was using the same drug without any trouble whereas he too had problems with Flomax.

I cleared the change with the Flight Surgeon at work and began the new prescription when I got home from work on Wednesday.

All seemed well until I went out for a ride on Thursday afternoon. Half way into the ride I could feel a cluster headache coming on. I wasn't all that concerned as I felt it was going to be just another of the mini variety caused by the meds and I could easily deal with it. Ten minutes after I first noticed it I was feeling uneasy about my situation. It was 20 degrees, I was 15 miles from home and wearing only a couple thin layers so as not to overheat. Being dressed with so little is fine as long as my heart rate is somewhere on the other side of 140 but I was having to slow due to the pain behind my left eye and my heart rate was now hovering at around 100.

If this was going to be a full blown cluster headache I'd need to get off the road soon. I still had hope that the pain would subside but it was continuing to intensify. I pulled over and gave Tammy a call. Before I could even finish my sentence she was asking me where I was and assuring me that she was on the way. My angel of mercy.

I continued to press on knowing that my headache was the real deal and wondering if Tammy thought to bring some Imitrex to abort the headache. It was all I could do just to explain my situation and position to her. If I could keep pedaling I'd be somewhat better off than if I were to stop all together. There's something about succumbing to the pain which causes it to reach another level and I didn't want to do that. Riding would be difficult but it was my best option.

It was my only option.

I was feeling chilled but not shivering. I was thankful for cellphones and that Tammy was on the way. She caught up with me about 10 miles south of home. I loaded my bike into the back of the truck and got in. She handed me an Imitrex and I inhaled it like some crackhead in desperate need of a fix.

She got me home and I crawled into bed with all my gear still on sans helmet and shoes waiting for the pain to leave but it would be a while. Unless you take the abortive meds early on they have a difficult time turning back the pain.

While I was recovering, Tammy got online and did some research. She found that the drugs used to treat BPH could cause headaches in some people. In my case they brought about the worst kind. I immediately swore off any further use of meds to treat my condition. I spent all the next day and most of Saturday in recovery mode with two additional headaches as I waited for the affects of the Uroxatral to leave my system.

My biggest concern was that the use of these meds had put me back into another cluster cycle and seeing as I'd just ended a cycle a couple months ago I didn't need that.

It's Sunday morning now and I believe the half-life of the Uroxatral has run its course. I feel back to normal with that full bladder feeling once again. I thank God that the headaches appear to be done.

I've got an appointment with a Urologist in a couple weeks to discuss what I think is my only other I was hoping to avoid the knife at this early stage of my condition but unless there's an entirely different regimen of meds out there and unless I want to keep having my sleep interrupted I don't see that I have a choice.

Tammy found this video on YouTube of a typical procedure to reduce the size of an ever increasing prostate and restore bladder function. Sign me up!

I wonder if it would be in poor taste to bring my video camera with me for my surgery and see if the doc can capture my procedure for my YouTube account?



Claudia said...

Kevin, I get a variant of your headache, a cluster/migraine. The Imitrex (Sumatriptan) didn't work for me for long (injection or pill). I now take Amerge (Naratriptan - pill) and it works most of the time. It's a member of the Imitrex family. The key, of course, is to take it in time. It's a prescription, non-narcotic so you should be able to take it at work. I've had no side-effects so far, and I've been on it 10 years. Claudia

Kevin said...

That wouldn't work for me at work as I'd be dq'd for I believe 12 or 24 hours after using it if it's anything like Imitrex. They're quite particular about what we can and can't use while at work.