'Back in the Ridges ER, you don't know how lucky you are boy, back in the Ridges, back in the Ridges, back in the Ridges Er!'
I couldn't get that little song I'd put to Beatles music out of my head as I lay on the stretcher/bed at Ridges to begin this day way too early. This morning had us back in the ER with more of the chest/rib pain that brought me there ten days earlier. To find myself succumbing to the pain again was such a disappointment because of the progress I'd made. I had been off all my pain meds since Tuesday morning and over the preceding days I was working out on the elliptical, rower and treadmill and holding nothing back. People would ask me how I felt and I'd reply "great!"
I wasn't feeling so great last night. I took some pain meds but once they'd worn off the pain came back even stronger. It was 3:15 in the morning when Tammy placed a call to a doctor at the ER. He quickly phoned us back and after listening to me haltingly tell him my symptoms through winces of pain he urged us to come back in right away. He acknowledged my concern that there wasn't much they could do that they weren't already doing but he wanted to rule out an additional mass in my lung. So did I.
Two things they typically notice before they start jabbing needles into me; a fatty cyst near where they like to place the IV in my right arm and my heartbeat in the low 40s referred to as brachycardia. I had an FAA physical once where the nurse taking my vitals couldn't believe my heartbeat of 38. "You're trying to do that" she joked. I smiled knowing my many miles of running and biking were to thank. I usually beat them to the low heartbeat comment and tell them that it's normal for me but I've yet to say anything of the lump in my forearm before they do.
Chest X-rays and a CT yielded no new embolisms (or would they be called emboli?) but they did show a reduction in what was already there. That was good news. But why the pain? I was honestly just a little concerned that maybe they thought I was there looking to top off my pain meds for a high but they could see the grimace on my face and hear the pain in my voice. Not that they'd have anyway of knowing but I'm no actor. The doctor gave me a diagnosis of Pleurisy, an irritation in the lining of the lungs. By 7:30 we were on our way home with orders to do a follow-up with my regular doctor in the next day or two. I'm not sure what good that will do but I'll follow through nonetheless.
I can sense that I'm in a mild depression from all of this; not just the distraction from my normal life and the discomfort I'm feeling but more-so the limitations I now have on me that weren't there before; namely my riding. Before I get too involved in a great big buhu though I'm quick to remind myself of all I still have and to not let this discourage me too much.
But the main thing this whole health interruption has done for me is that it's caused me to for the first time in my life get honest with myself about my mortality. I like to say that when I'm on my bike I'm back in my 20s; I'm just a kid again and I think I've been able to carry that feeling of invincibility over to the rest of my life. Whoever would've imagined just a month ago that my mother could outlive me? There are no guarantees and that's what I'm coming to terms with.
I'll be off work for the rest of this week and then it's anybody's guess after that. I've lost my medical certificate to work traffic so I'm content to stay home on paid leave (banked sick-time) until this is resolved and I'm given the green light to return to working traffic.
I managed to get out of the house a little the last few days to try and break up the monotony of being home so much. I surprised the Wednesday night crowd from work at Ole Piper. A few bingo cards were thrown my way and I did my best to try and keep up but my head was still in a bit of a fog I'm afraid.
I made it out to the St Paul Winter Carnival on Sunday to view the ice sculpture contest. Tammy was stuck in the office so I went on my own. I would like to have stayed later to get photos of the finished work but after nearly 3 hours downtown I was ready to head for home. The plan was to return today and get those photos but life got in the way.
Life is a good thing!