Friday, September 18, 2015


This week I got a severe wake-up call...

Back in 1999 I had two heart attacks, one in July and one in December. The December attack was severe enough to send me up to Miriam Hospital in Providence, RI for a quintuple bypass operation. I was put on medications afterward, for cholesterol control, blood pressure control, and a beta blocker for heart rate control. I took my meds faithfully for years, and ate right, got plenty of exercise, and saw my primary physician and my cardiologist regularly. Life was good in the aftermath of disaster.

Then came 2008 and the recession. I lost my job and couldn't get another one. no matter how hard I tried. I was unemployed for 3 years and pretty much lost everything, including my medical coverage. I fell through the cracks of society and the health care system. I could no longer afford doctors or meds. Luckily for me, my family came and rescued me, got me out of  Newport and took me in.

I finally found a new job in my new home in 2011, a job which, after I was upgraded to a permanent, regular employee in the Fall of that year, offered medical coverage. But I never got around to hooking up with a new doctor and getting back on a regular medication regimen. I was feeling good, eating right, getting plenty of exercise, hiking around, even up mountains, and not feeling any ill effects. I figured I had overcome the cardiac troubles and was back to "normal".

A year ago I had a tangle with Shingles which curiously had less of a rash and more of an effect on my right kidney, causing a great deal of pain. My blood pressure skyrocketed, and everyone involved figured this was because my kidneys, which regulate blood pressure, were adversely effected. At this point I had to re-establish a relationship with the health care system, got meds for the shingles and for the high blood pressure, and saw everything go well again after the meds kicked out the Shingles. After it was done, I never continued the Lisinopril, which controls blood pressure, because once the kidney was back to normal I figured the blood pressure issue was over, too.

Ever since I was a child I've had sinusitis problems. My mother was always telling me to "blow, don't sniff" because she was convinced that sniffing caused the stuffing of the sinus cavities. I lived on a steady diet of Dristan as a kid, and for the rest of my life I've had to live with sinusitis. In the last few years the situation has gotten worse, and the really bad, migraine-level headaches have become more frequent. So I made an appointment for yesterday morning with someone at the same medical clinic that tackled my Shingles problem, to find out what I could do to manage my chronic sinusitis.

When they took my blood pressure, a natural thing to do when addressing chronic headaches, the panic struck; my blood pressure was 203/127, well into the danger zone for stroke. So I was bundled off to Chambersburg Hospital's emergency room and admitted for an overnight stay. An IV drip was used to bring down my blood pressure, and when that worked I was switched over to oral meds, which held the line and continued to keep the blood pressure down. I was sent home around lunchtime today. I'm taking meds again, both for blood pressure and for cholesterol/cardiac issues (just in case). In effect, I'm right back where I was in early 2000, right after the surgery.

I won't ever be that self-satisfied, and self-deluded, again. Health issues don't go away, and when things even out and life runs smoothly and you get careless, they jump right back on you and bring you up short. After I called people to let them know I was back and would be back to work, etc., I decided to walk over to the Dykeman Spring Nature Park to sit and reflect on my situation by the north duck pond, surrounded by the soothing arms of Mama Gaia. And while I reflected on my life, I also considered the reflection of Nature on the pond. And took pictures. And the result was this post.

© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger