And the final diagnosis is? Drumroll please…
Yes, though the first set of tennis balls is barely worn out on the feet of my walker, and my Rascal, Jitterbug and LifeAlert are still on backorder, I’ve been diagnosed with heart failure.
Dr. Google says heart failure is “a condition in which your heart can’t pump enough oxygen-rich blood to meet your body’s needs. When your heart doesn’t pump efficiently, blood may back up into your lungs and other tissues.” (Actually, that’s by the Mayo Clinic, to whom I was referred by Dr. Google, my primary care search engine.)
Awesome. So what has caused this? (Besides, of course, a lifestyle that makes “sedentary” look like a hyperactive triathlete.) “Congestive heart failure often results from damage caused by a heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes or other conditions.” I don’t think I’ve ever had a heart attack, and I assume this is something a person would notice. My blood pressure has always been nice and low. And I’ve been tested for diabetes several times and come up short (just short, but short nonetheless). So I’m guessing I’m in the “other conditions” category.
I’m heading in for another sleep study to see if that “other condition” is sleep apnea. Have you ever had one? Electrodes attached all over your head, neck and chest (especially annoying ones pinch your ears), a microphone taped to your lip, restrictive bands around your chest and abdomen, more sensors on your legs and a hand, a Darth Vader mask strapped tightly to your face, and an unfamiliar bed. Oh, and a very nice nurse telling you to ignore it all and fall asleep naturally. Cuz that’s gonna happen.
In the meantime, I’m on horse diuretics (truly – they give these to racehorses), so I’ve got Secretariat’s urinary output. Which isn’t quite as fun as it sounds. Since the diagnosis was not fibrosis, I get to stay on the poison I’m taking for psoriasis, at least for now. After decades of having all blanks under the current medications column, now it’s more like Walgreen’s loading dock.
Heart failure feels like a giant serving of tired, with a side order of worry and a little dread for dessert. And a big glass of “oh, crap” to wash it all down. When you can feel every beat of your heart in your chest, it’s excruciatingly difficult to not wonder which one could be the last, even without a morbid imagination.
On the up side, you couldn’t ask for better motivation to eat better. I’m already down about 35 pounds since February, and too small for the biggest pants at Walmart. So for those keeping score at home, it’s only 75 more until I get a BMI in the healthy range.
Hey, everyone has to aspire to something.