Sunday, February 1, 2015

Perhaps God is Laughing at Me Now

This is part 3 of 3 about my most recent blood clotting ordeal. Find part 1 here and part 2 here.

I wanted to say a little about the staff on the vascular floor (3rd floor) of Southdale Fairview. They are such a caring group of people. Everyone I came in contact with there was always so pleasant and I made a point of learning their names and showing the same warmth back to them that they were giving me. They are such good people! Also, the staff in Interventional Radiology: I actually looked forward to being wheeled down there each time (3 total) to have a procedure done. They were the ones who restored the blood flow to my leg and I have them to thank for their efforts in saving it for me. But they were also a pretty cool group of people and I enjoyed our conversations.

Also, I've never had more people praying for me than I have this past week and I very much appreciate that. Trust me when I say that for all of you who have offered up your prayers and well-wishes or stopped by or offered to stop by to see me, from the bottom of my heart I appreciate all you've done for me.

Dr Foley came by my room before 8:30 Wednesday morning to talk with us about where we go from here. He said he'd had a change of heart about going forward with surgery after speaking with Dr Johnstone and comparing notes. He talked about the patency of the surgery and how there's a "bit of a dance you do when deciding when is the best time." He said that ideally it's best to put the surgery off until there's an expectation that I'll die of other natural causes before any complications from the surgery present themselves years down the road.

Dr Johnstone seemed to think we could afford to wait but for how long I'm not exactly sure. Yes, I do have some clots that could break free into my bloodstream at any time and that's a concern but what's also a concern is how many years I can expect to get out of the surgery.

Also, what I haven't mentioned in all of this is that the aneurysms and the blood clots of my common iliac arteries are two separate things. The aneurysms I have aren't near the point where they're ready to burst so they don't present an immediate problem. They will be monitored, I assume with routine CT-scans but eventually they will have to be treated surgically. Hopefully there won't be any additional blood clots developing within me now that I'm on a blood thinner. I should also add that a blood thinner doesn't actually thin the blood, it just helps to prevent additional clots from forming but will do nothing to erode away a clot that already exists.

So, my main concern now is for the clots in my iliac arteries that could potentially break free and cause me problems. My doctors say they appear to be smooth and stable and not at all impeding blood flow around them. I'm fine as long as they stay put. There's definitely a risk associated with waiting but there's also a risk when I ride my bike on highway 169 during rush-hour traffic catching drafts off semis as they pass by a few feet off to my left with my body feeling more alive than ever. I don't anticipate I'll change my lifestyle all that much or invest too much time in thinking about the what-ifs. I've done enough of that already this past week.

As we were finishing our meeting with Dr Foley he asked who my primary care physician is. I told him that I didn't have one, that the doctor I'd been using for the last 20 years had recently retired. He asked if I'd be interested in having him become my primary care physician. He said he'd like to continue to monitor me closely and that if I have any issues whatsoever he'd make room for me in his schedule no matter what. I jumped at his offer.

There's another question that's been on my mind lately. Am I retired? I really don't know at this point but it's a question I've been asking myself again and again as if it's on a loop in my brain. I had a conversation over the phone from my hospital bed with a retired controller and I told him that I was pretty sure I was done. I hung up shortly after I said that and my eyes welled up with tears. Did I really mean what I'd just said? Was this the way I was going out because this wasn't at all how I ever envisioned my career ending. A part of me pushed back and said ''re not making this decision in this state of weakness from a hospital bed!'

I remember my last night of work last Saturday as I got out of the sector for the final time that night, I stopped to chat with Steve, plugged into sector 36, on my way out. We touched on plans for retirement as is often a topic of conversation with many of us. I told him my tentative plans but qualified them by saying, "Wanna know how to make God laugh? Tell him your plans."

Perhaps God is laughing at me now. I'm okay with that.


Jim Knoll said...

Hi Kevin, Great heart felt comments. Thanks for clarifying the difference between aneurysms and clot. I was confused until now. I know an aneurysm is an expanding artery and a clot is a glob that flows through the artery looking for a "home" until destroyed. What great news to have a new primary care physician who has perfect knowledge of your current "history." Retirement was something I was trying to figure out - are you or aren't you. These are tough questions. Is God laughing? Don't think so. He likes it when we have plans. There is a verse - something like without plans the people aren't established. So we make our plans and hope and pray that they match God's plan for our life. Tough stuff as our plans are made by faith. God Bless, -Jim

Kevin Gilmore said...

Thanks for your comments, Jim.

Trying to get a full understanding for all that's happened this past week was more work than I thought it would be. My brain still feels a little sluggish at times as I sit at my keyboard and try to make sense of it all. I'm glad I was able to clarify those areas for you and I'm sure others too.

The only plans I'm thinking of today are maybe a trip to Hub Hobby in search of a model car to build (something I haven't done in way too many years) or coming up with a design for a stained glass project. I'm keeping it real simple for now.

Jim Knoll said...

Building models is so healing to our mind and bodies. I used to build model planes - u control and tried RC. Liked building better than flying. Have great fun.

Kevin Gilmore said...

Thanks, jim!

Vannevar said...

I don't think G^d is laughing at you at all.

May I respectfully comment on two things? One is decision making in crisis. From everything I read about the Cuban Missile Crisis, every "first-response-plan" they had was wrong. As botched as it was, they ended up waiting a few hours and letting a decision sink in and each time they ended up with a better decision. A little more time, a little more perspective, a little less emotion. I am so impressed at your medical team, sounds like you're in a good spot.

So: retirement. Retirement is the best thing that's every going to happen to you. It's the brass ring, it's the American dream, it's something very few people really get these days - and you've earned it.

it's a scary big honking change but walk towards the paperwork and move into a life that isn't designed around shift and swaps and schedules and penny-ante politics and contrived drama.

Change is so scary. enlistment is scary, marriage is scary, mortgages are scary. This retirement gig is, frankly, a wet dream. There was a time to leave HIghSchool, there was that last time you walked off the ship, and there's a last time you have to sign in, listen to the ties, and then get on with yourself.

Do you know many unhappily retired controllers? I don't.

Anyway: sorry to drone on. You sound great. Enjoy the benefits.

Kevin Gilmore said...

Vannevar, I love all that you've written here...every word of it. Thanks for the sage advice. Hmmm...

I'm taking the next month off from work, or perhaps even longer before going back. At least that's the plan as of now. Taking that time off may be what it takes to convince me that I'll be much better off retired. We'll soon see.