View From The Ridge

View From The Ridge

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Golf can be a hazardous sport.

Golf can be a hazardous sport!
Yes it has been a long time since I last posted on my blog, about 3 months to be exact.  But there have been extenuating circumstances. 

Back about the middle of January I began experiencing bleeding mixed with sinus fluid that was somewhat similar to the bleeding in the left nostril that led to the cancer diagnosis in January of 2010.  Back then there was just the bleeding, no sinus fluid.  So I made an appointment with my doctor to have her make a referral to an ENT (ear, nose & throat) doctor.  Well, the referral took two weeks and when they called me to make an appointment they politely informed me that new patients were being booked in June.  My, not so politely response was, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!”  Now you must understand that this ENT is the ONLY one on the island of approximately 180,000 people (and at least that many wild pigs, but I digress) she is in Hilo, a one hour and 45 minute drive(80 minutes in the Camaro, or less) the others are in Honolulu, a 45 minute flight, plus taxi fare, etc.  I then reminded myself that we live in the Banana Republic of health care and then, politely, stated that I was a three time cancer survivor, these symptoms had all the ear marks of one or two of the cancers returning and that I could not wait until June.  The following conversation continued:

Receptionist: “Well, let me talk to the Doctor, please hold.”  She returns with “She will see you on the 24th of March at 2 pm.”  Me: “ARE YOU SERIOUS!!!”  Recpt. “Yes, the doctor is making a special accommodation because of your past history.”  Me, after taking a really deep breath “Do you have a cancellation list?”  “No.”  “WHAT??”  “Nobody ever cancels.” 

I then call my GP and ask her if she would intercede and try and get me in earlier.  She calls, end result, no dice.  I go to the appointment on the 24th, ENT scopes my nose, sees no cancer, but does see where the bleeding is coming from and it is not from the sinuses.  Puts me on antibiotics for 10 days and that clears up the sinus infection and reduces the bleeding.  I see her again and she states that there is a sore where the septum use to be, it scabs over, it cracks or comes loose and bleeds, scabs over and repeats.    She can cauterize it, but it will just do the same thing as a scab.  I just may have to live with it.  

In the mean time I have an appointment with the Oncologist here(who is leaving because of being over worked) with a blood test scheduled three days before the appointment.  I explain to him what is going on with my nose and he informs me that my blood results show an elevated level of inflammatory indicators which is usually associated with cancer.  Hello!!.  Oorrrrr,  he says, an infection.  I’m thinking “Dude, you could have included that last piece of information in the first sentence.”  He orders a CT scan of the head, chest, abdomen and pelvic area.  He makes the referral to Radiology, they call me three or four days later to make an appointment another three days later.  We do the scan, and I’m thinking, hey, two days they will have the results and call me.  HA!!  On the third day I call them, talk to the nurse who “politely” tells me she can’t discuss the results, but the doctor will at your next appointment on the 24th of APRIL!!  So help me Hanna, I am about to explode by this time.  I, calmly, explain to her(through gritted teeth) that there is no way on God’s green earth that I am going to wait another month with this elephant on my chest to hear the results, good or bad, of that CT scan.  She agrees to go and talk to the doctor, again, and comes back to inform me that there is no indication of cancer.  BUT, she says, there is indication that there is some hardening  of the pulmonary artery and that I need to see my cardiologist for follow up.  Hold on, folks, cause this gets even better.

On good Friday I get in the mail the written radiologist report.  Problem is it is only one page and discusses the results of the chest, abdomen and pelvic areas.  What happened to the head and neck, the area of prime concern??  Of course this is Good Friday afternoon and everybody is now closed. 
By now you are probably wondering what the heck does this have to do with golf?  Nothing!  We’ll get to that later, it’s a whole different story. 

So Monday morning I jump into my Camaro, loaded for bear, and hot foot it down to the Radiologist to find out what was ordered for that CT scan and what was actually done.  Long story short, it turns out the secretary only mailed out one of three pages, the head and neck regions being on the other two pages.   

I get home and start to go over the results of the CT scan with Jeri and we run across this term “Old lacunar infarct in the anterior limb of the internal capsule on the right.”  SAY WHAT??  What happened to plain English?  Isn’t somebody suppose to explain this to me?  Is an infarct in fact a brain fart?  I don’t know but I think I have had a few of those, but not sure.  So I scan it, send it to our daughter, Lani, the nurse practitioner, asking “what is this?”  She calls me ten minutes later and says “Dad, you’ve had a silent stroke”.  About this time the elephant in the room comes out of the corner, jumps 10 ft. in the air and lands squarely on my chest.  

Turns out a silent stroke is just that, you have no idea it is happening.  OK, a review of the situation is now in order.  I have had a silent stroke prior to January of 2014, which was on a MRI taken in May of 2014 and never mentioned by anyone, and that makes me more susceptible to a real stroke in the future.  Lani tells me to get my blood pressure and my type II diabetes under control because both increase the risk of strokes.  I have the blood pressure under control and working with my PC physician on the diabetes, and finally making some progress.  Consequently I cannot eat what I enjoy and I have to stick myself with a syringe three times a day, and prick my fingers three or four times a day.   I have a bloody nose that may or may not heal.  There are three cancers waiting to return, plus a good chance a forth kind could show up, that only God knows when or if.  Oh, and I have something going on with my pulmonary artery that may or may not cause a problem.  Add in the fact that I am 76 and getting older by the day, my golf game sucks and all this starts to weigh on me.  I then decide to have myself a two day pity party. 

Day three and I get a phone call from my friend Paul who has been battling Lymphoma off and on since 1995, and now has it in his lungs and only has a month or two left.  He had heard by the grape vine that I was struggling with all of this and called to say he knew exactly what I was going through and wanted to encourage me.  We talked for a while and I was reminded that God is in control, our days for birth and death were determined before the foundations of the earth were formed.   We live in an area that many consider paradise, I’m able to play something resembling golf 12 months of the year, and there are those around me that can barely walk across the street, let alone play golf or do anything else.  Fritz, I am more likely to die being t-boned in the Camaro by some idiot texting on his i-phone and driving than I am by any of the above.  Or by somebody running a red light.  It appears that the red light here means if there is no one in front of you, you can go on through if the cross traffic hasn’t occupied the intersection.  The green light means wait 5 seconds, then look both ways before entering the intersection.   The right away belongs to the oldest and/or biggest vehicle.
Bottom line is Jeri and I are doing fine.  Some of you out there are dealing with worse issues, or will be, so what have I got to complain about.  We are warm, not having to fight winter, live on a live volcano (How cool is that! Exciting.), and we have an awesome God who cares for us, provides and protects us, and promises to walk with us through any and every adversity.  What more could we ask for?  Nothing.  We are blessed every day by his love. 

Ah, yes, the dangers of golf -- in a cart.  We are in the beginning of the rainy season here and two of us were playing golf.  It had been drizzling off and on for a few holes when we finished up playing the 11th hole.  I had parked the golf cart on a knoll behind the green and as we were leaving to go to the 12th tee box, I applied the brakes to slow down as we approached the cart path.  Because of the rain the grass was slick as snot, the rear brakes locked up and we started sliding sideways.  I could see what was going to happen and sure enough, we hit the cart path sideways and the cart rolled onto it’s side.   Slammed is probably a more appropriate word.  I landed on my elbow and the steering wheel hit my right hand.  I thought at first it was broken, but it was just bruised.  By the time the staff came and brought us a another cart, and some ice from the cart girl, the hand was feeling better and I  finished the round of golf.  Actually had three birdies after the incident. Of course I had three double bogies and a triple to go along with that and no pars.  That's why my game sucks right now. Thought about starting my next round by slamming my hand with a golf club to see if it would help my game, but then thought better of it.  Be my luck I’d break a bone.

"Like sand in an hour glass, so go the days of our lives."