Thursday, May 17, 2012


I have not been very actively blogging lately. Partly this is because I have been very busy, being home no more than three days so far in May (and right now, I am not at home, but in Prague). Partly this is because April was taken up -- well, those few days I was home in April -- with a strange health experience. I woke up on the morning of April 10 earlier than usual, felt a little strange, had some pain in my chest, and decided to take my blood pressure. (For some time, I have had trouble keeping my blood pressure under control.) The blood pressure, it turned out, was 208/116 -- a tad high, to say the least. However, it was an hour when my doctor was still in bed for certain and even the local clinics were closed. We have no nearby hospital, so a trip to the emergency room would take a good half-hour, and I was still a little sleepy to embark upon that journey even though Donnie thought I should. My blood pressure is always the highest when I am the calmest and really shoots up when I am asleep, which I know sounds very strange, but it is also very true. So, I laid back down and pretty readily fell asleep.

After I awoke, I felt somewhat better and took off for work although I still had some chest pain. At work, I mentioned the chest pains in passing to my deputy and admin assistant, who immediately locked my office on me (both have a spare key) and insisted that I go to the emergency room. I disagreed and called my doctor, who was not available, but his nurse gave me advice: go to the emergency room.

So, okay, I agreed to allow my deputy and admin assistant to take me to the emergency room. There, the doctor measured my blood pressure, and it was down: 202/100. In spite of my remonstrance that things were headed in the right direction, the doctor admitted me, treated me for a heart attack, and scheduled me for eons of tests, some of which he could not do because I have a couple of heart irregularities (innocuous -- did not prevent me from serving in the US Army).

Ultimately, I was released with several doctors scratching their heads and saying that they had no idea what had happened to me. The enzyme test showed no heart attack. The blood pressure took a nose dive with nitroglycerin but started returning to its erratic behavior afterward. A comment made by the doctor who released me from the hospital after concluding that there was nothing wrong with my heart, however, was very helpful. He said that the MRI pictures taken showed a thickening of the esophagus and thought I should be taking Prilosac, which I am now doing. He did not know, however, that I have had a hiatal hernia for years, ever since Doah was born some 30-odd years ago. It seems that Doah was the cause of it. In any event, the hernia has slowly grown over time so that it is now rather large. Once I realized that the hernia might have been the problem, it became clear that the chest pains were from the hernia, not from the heart. The complicating factor was the seriously high blood pressure, which is now also under control, thanks to a change in medications. So, I am healthier than anyone thought, it appears, thank God!

And that, along with an impossibly busy travel schedule, is what has kept me quiet for the past while.

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