Thursday, January 19, 2006

As some of you know, I have been being treated rather aggressively for asthma for the last year or so.

It has become increasingly apparent that the problem really isn't asthma, and so I've been looking at other places for help, visiting a few other specialists along the road. I made an appointment with the cardio a couple of weeks ago then promptly caught bronchitis.

She (the cardio) postponed some tests until the broncho had cleared up a bit, so early on Martin Luther King day, I showed up at the cardio office for an echocardiogram. The tech took me back into the test suite and began the exam, and about five minutes into a 45-minute exam, she sharply said, "I'll be back in a minute."

Never a good sign.

One of the cardio partners came in and looked at the screen on the echo machine, and said something about 4 or 5 centimeters. He then asked me what my plans were for the rest of the day.

I told him I had to go to my boss's house and repair his wireless network. The doctor told me that that had been Plan A, and he was about to introduce me to Plan B.

He said the echo showed a pericardium full of fluid about two inches around on all sides, and that I would need immediately to go to the closest hospital (which, fortunately for me is one of the best heart centers in the region... even vice-president Dick has been there) for a cardiac catheterization and draining of the pericardium. The cardio practice got me an "add-on" slot for the procedure to be done in the afternoon. I was at the hospital being prepped at 11 am, and a little after three they came and fetched me to the catheter lab. I was back in my room by 5 pm. Amazing stuff!

The reason for the catheterization is that the cause for the fluid buildup is pulmonary hypertension. You can look that up for yourself if you're interested; not very pretty, I'm afraid.

You may recall that a year or so ago I told you all that I'd been diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder called CREST syndrome. There didn't seem to be any consequences from this disorder at the time. That status has changed. Evidently CREST is one of the more common causes for pulmonary hypertension. Ooops.

Now, here's the fun part; the current pharmaceutical with the most bang for the buck (so to speak) is....


Yes, boys and girls, I am now taking a little blue pill so I can breathe. And I'm not sharing. I like breathing.