I’ll Take Medical Insanity for $2,000, Alex

  • On the way out of the hospital, one of my doctors mentioned doing an MRI to examine something as a follow up to a CT scan of my abdomen. I thought I heard her say “adrenal” and maybe “renal”. Well, I looked at the scan results. There are small abnormalities on my right adrenal gland (which sits on top of my right kidney) and my right kidney. Since cancers can be precursors to blood clots, the doctors want to investigate further. According to the interwebs, the vast majority of these sorts of abnormalities are benign cysts. It also turns out that one of my siblings has a similar anomaly on his kidney. It’s benign.
  • I didn’t sleep a wink last night. I don’t think it was my lungs. More likely my insomnia was caused by drinking a beer after dinner. This usually messes up my sleep cycle. Suffice it to say, today’s 4 hour afternoon nap was a winner.
  • I also learned that the blood thinning medication that I am on does not break up the blood clots in my lung or leg. The clots in my lung will be absorbed by my body over time. My doctors think this is what happened after the May 2016 episode. In any case, the anti-clotting medicine will keep my body from adding more clots. It took about a week to ten days for my 2016 problems to go away. It’s obvious by my relative lack of progress that the damage this time is far more severe and will take longer.
  • The results from my chest x-ray in May 2016 and the one last week are very different. In the former, my chest is clear; the x-ray shows no abnormality. In the latter there is pneumonia and a partially collapsed lung. This prompted a CT scan to follow up.  The CT scan found the clots that caused all this. Mostly the blockages are in my right lung but there is some blockage in my left.
  • As a practical matter, I feel like I have aged 25 years in less than a week. I have very low energy levels. My breathing is still very shallow. There is good news buried in this. I am not losing my mind from wanting to jump on my bike. Once my kids leave, I am going to start riding Big Nellie for a few minutes at a time in the basement. That will tell me how high I have to climb to get back to normal. And maybe help me defeat the evil Spiro, the Dark Lord of the Lung.
  • Speaking of Spiro, the spirometer, he’s winning so far. The force isn’t very strong in me. I haven’t been able to exceed 2,500 milliliters of air inhaled yet. My target is 3,250. This is for the typical 6 foot. 62 year old. I have no idea what a 9,000 mile bicyclist with asthma is supposed to use as a target so I’ll go with “normal” for now.
  • My mental game remains pretty strong. The first 24 hours were tough but going to see Star Wars and basketball games and hanging with my kids is really helping me stay away from the big red self-pity button.
  • If you talk to me, you’ll find my voice trailing off. I can’t sustain my voice for as long as I am used to. I need a few seconds to reload the air bags. Most people will count this as my personal gift to them.
  • Finally, if this had to happen it’s good that it happened in the dead of winter. When it’s cold and windy outside I enjoy curling up with a good book and a cup of tea. And I won’t lose any warm weather cycling days during my recovery.

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