Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Dr. Awesome, Dr. Chicago, and He Who Heals

This is my one thousandth published blog entry! It's the one thousandth published entry anyhow. I have nearly a dozen more in the works but this it. To celebrate my 1K I had planned to go into length on my understanding of the rapture, but instead I had another run-in with Real Life and chose to write about it;

I'm not happy with 2018, I've had much better years - 60 better years by my count. My chronic back pain is still here, I've got an entire list of things I need to avoid doing just to avoid the pain. And my COPD and Pulmonary Hypertension is still here as are the occasional bouts of bronchitis, but I did get up to see the kids in North Dakota and had a wonderful week with them. On the downside there's been a lot going on behind the scene

First one of my sons smashed his leg on a remote mountain in Colorado and compartment syndrome, an incredibly painful condition, set in. That required long drives across Colorado to be with him and return to be with my responsibilities, not to mention the emotional toll this takes. 

Then, on the Ides of March, my mother passed away. It was a blessing, she went quietly in the depths of dementia thinking that she had happily spent her entire life in a Florida nursing home. The estate wasn't much but there were legal kerfuffles, this was sorted out but this too takes an emotional toll.

Then another son finally admitted that he was addicted to drugs. To be honest the only surprise was that he did admit it at the time he did. The was in that accelerating downward spiral where the addict starts more and more powerful drugs. At this point if you don't pull out, you're lost. We got him into rehab, scrambled to get the financing because his insurance fell far, far short, and did what we could to support his wife and kids. The emotional toll hit my wife pretty hard.

In early August my wife was climbing down off of a step stool when a grandbaby crawled up behind her. Trying to avoid him she lost her balance and fell, and trying to break her fall she broke her wrist. Bad. Dr. Strange bad. Weeks later and hours of surgery later she's finally getting to the point where she can finally sleep at night. Caring for her is a blessing but I have my own physical issues: COPD, GERD, Pulmonary Hypertension, and chronic back pain. But by leaning on the strength of God we were doing fine.

Then one day Dr. Chicago was concerned about fluid gathering around my heart and gave me a drug that would kick start my diuretics, and it did. My body took to this kick starter like a pig to corn. I couldn't be far from a toilet and I was losing weight rapidly, something I've been having problems with so I was happy to watch the scale plummet.

Then I started getting dizzy, but this is Colorado, people pay Top Dollar to feel this way. Come Sunday I knew I was in trouble, after standing up and almost fainting I took my blood pressure and it was 75/63. My BP came back up to a "healthy" 89/56 later but I refused to go to the local Happy Valley Medical Hobby Shop and give them a crack at it. They are a good emergency room for orthopedic emergencies, cuts, and gun shot wounds, but from past dealings I came to know that their weak suit was the "medicine" side. Besides, I had an appointment to see Dr. Awesome in the morning.

Dr. Awesome, like Dr. Chicago, is a blessing directly from God, she's the best and what she does and was placed in my path by Him to keep me alive. I now truly believe I'd be dead twice over if it weren't for her. Even though she examined me for my COPD, she took great concern over what was going on. She sent me for labs and contacted Dr. Chicago (who works in the same hospital) and discussed my issue. Dr. Chicago put a 'stat' on my labs but by that time I was on the other side of Denver with Dr. Soccer-Mom-To-Be for my back. (When I can I schedule all my appointments on the same day and take a "Doctor Day" off from work rather than scattering appointments all over the calendar)

Leaving Dr. Soccer-Mom-To-Be's office I turned on my phone to find that my voice mail was filled with messages from nurses from pulmonary to contact Dr. Awesome and nurses from the pulmonary hypertension clinic to contact Dr. Chicago. As I pulled in the parking lot of National Jewish Health my phone rang again, it was a nurse from Dr. Awesome's office, I told her I was coming in and I was ushered to an exam room in the wing that Dr. Awesome flits about like a wind driven butterfly.

In walks Dr. Awesome. "Your labs came back and it doesn't look good..." and she proceeded to tell me exactly what the labs reported in a manner that would have been perfect, had I understood what was going on, I was really dizzy at this point. I caught a lot of numbers and acronyms and abbreviations, but nothing. She was flustered because this was important so she tried again. This time I caught the words potassium, and kidney, and heart, and failure. Ok, I caught that one, but the dots weren't connecting and Dr. Awesome was starting to look like Reese Witherspoon (but shorter)  approaching meltdown. But God had brought me to her for a reason and I thanked him again for her skills and I was whisked off to the ER at "St. Jewish"

St. Jewish is actually Saint Joseph's Hospital, a teaching hospital in downtown Denver. National Jewish Health is an outpatient only hospital so they partnered with Saint Joseph for all inpatient work. I was told that there's even a wing for folks from NJH, and I believe it - my room had a crucifix on the wall and a mezuzah on the door frame. I arrived with a huge package of materials supplied by Dr.s Awesome and Chicago with a huge note for the ER attending to call Dr. Chicago, which he did. From the ER I was moved up to the ward and placed under the care of Dr. Minot who not only knew Dr.s Awesome and Chicago, but she's a regular at the museum at which I volunteer. God placed another doctor in my path to help me.

Once I got a liter or two of fluids in me I was able to completely understand what was going on. Because I was urinating so frequently my potassium level had dropped from an average of 4.6 to 1.7 (low is considered 3.5), my kidneys started to fail, and my EKG was causing Dr. Minot a bit of concern.

You can't just give a person a handful of potassium  and say "good luck!" because potassium, being a salt, is absorbed first into the blood, then it transfers into the cells, then there's a bit of back and forth until the blood and the cells have an even potassium level due to osmosis. Overall, the bodily levels of potassium are regulated by the kidney. You can't introduce a ton of potassium and expect the kidneys to survive the onslaught. And the levels fluctuate as potassium is administered. Here's an example - on Tuesday night my potassium level was 3.4, the next morning it was 2.8.

The staff was incredible, and I've found that if you get to know them, they get to know you, and some times you get to share a little gospel. A simple question - "What got you into this branch of medicine?" or nursing, or technical specialty, and a quick visit with a nameless person becomes a delightful conversation. "You have a delightful accent? Where are you from originally?" works wonders. The guy who brought me lunch was from Morocco and had several degrees in mathematics. I had a nurse from Eritrea, and another from the Ivory Coast who was delighted that I knew where that was.

I went in to St. Jewish on Monday afternoon and was released 72 hours later on Thursday afternoon.

Am I angry with Dr. Chicago over this? After all, she's the one that prescribed the 'kick starter' for me. Not By Any Means. She did it to save my life, and my body 'over reacted'. I'm a Buffalo Bills fan, she's a Chicago Cubs fan, we both know - Stuff Happens. She was on the floor at St. Jewish Tuesday evening and stopped in to see me at 9:00 PM. We talked for a few minutes on my condition, then talked about her beloved Cubs, minor league ball (the BEST baseball by far) and movies. I was honored to have such an intelligent person to talk with for as long as we did. Her time is precious, and she even swung by to see me at 7:00 AM the next day for a couple of minutes. I am truly blessed to know her and be under her care.

And we are all truly blessed to be under God's care. He is the Great Architect. He designed our bodies in such a way that men and women of science can break down body functions to numbers - the universal language that He gave us. On all of His creation (with the exception of Antifa and BLM meetings) 2+2 always equals 4. A potassium level of 1.7 means the same thing in Denver, Moscow, Baghdad, and Seoul. We are not "star stuff" as Carl Sagan once said, we and stars are made of the same, simple, building blocks that God made.

God has blessed us in so many ways, can you believe it - He even sent my sister from Virginia. My wife is still in a lot of pain with her broken wrist, and my sister arrived and helped her out while I spent a majority of her vacation time here in Denver unable to help. I also want to call out some very very special people who saved my body as I leaned on Jesus to save my spirits:

Dr. Amy Olson
Dr. Patricia George
Dr. Lauren Sarnot
and just a smidgen of the nursing staff at St. Jewish:

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