It’s been just over 22 months since my life went topsy-turvy and upside-down. It took only an hour of being dead to change the rhythm and tempo of my life forever. Without medicine and the sometimes overworked but often tireless heroes who practice it in hospitals and ambulances, that would have been the end for me. I have a lot to be thankful for in medicine.
But it hasn’t been a stress-free relationship. And the journey has taken its toll on my loved ones as well. I spent 3 months following my heart attack in hospital settings, first in a coma, then in various stages of utter oblivion and confusion as my brain struggled to restore itself. That process, I suspect, will never be complete, but back then, after I was revived from my comatose state, I was lucky if I remembered things for minutes at a time.
Once I had reached the point where I could safely move back home, I did so with an arm-long list of medications I was required to take daily. Even with a generous insurance policy, those meds cost us hundreds of dollars a month we could ill afford. But, in the aftermath of my untimely death, I took them religiously, assuming they were keeping me alive.
Six months later, I was well enough to be back at work, still taking the meds religiously, but doubts regarding their efficacy were growing. I had visited the ER once a month, on average, since leaving the hospital. On every occasion I can remember, the doctors expressed concern and puzzlement over the exact ingredients of the medicine cocktail I had been prescribed.
When I asked my physician about the meds and the repeated hospital visits, he appeared to brush off my concerns as those of an ignorant layperson. Come August of last year and yet another late-night trip to the ER, I decided the meds weren’t working and were, in fact, doing me harm. And I stopped taking them then and there.
So, another year has passed, this one medication-free. I haven’t seen the inside of an ER once in those 12 months, and my family hasn’t been subjected to the stresses and fears that those incidents invariably invoked. I think I’ve made my point in spades that the approach originally taken was flawed.
But hey, life goes on and I’m no more Superman now than I ever was. What got me back into the doctor’s office is boringly trivial and mundane, but that’s a vast improvement over serious and potentially fatal. I contracted a case of athlete’s foot which got me worried about the risk of diabetes which took my father’s life and his mother’s. Now, athlete’s foot has nothing whatsoever to do with diabetes, so far as I know, but my dad lost a couple of toes in his struggle with the disease and it got me thinking…
So, in the interest of protecting myself from diabetes, I decided it was time to return to the doctor and see whether my concerns had any basis in reality. In general, at my age, there are a growing number of things that medicine can prevent and cure, so it seemed foolish to continue to avoid it entirely. However, I was somewhat dreading the visit as I expected to be chastised no end for abandoning my meds wholesale and returned poste-haste to the regimen I could and would no longer sanction.
Fortunately, and much to my surprise, my doctor acknowledged the validity of my concerns and proposed that with the 12-month baseline of absolutely no medications, we could now assess a medication strategy best suited to prevent a recurrence of my original cardiac arrest without the concomitant negative side effects of the original regimen.
This is a program I can get behind
So, the first step in the process is to get my blood tested to check for key indicators of my cardiac health. I’ve now been fasting for the required 12 hours but will give it a couple more hours to be on the safe side, make sure I’m not wasting time getting a test done that will have to be repeated, then head into the lab to fill multiple tubes with my precious bodily fluid.
Although I stand by my decision to abandon a medical regimen that was simply not working, I’m looking forward to taking what sensible steps I can to prolong the life that I have been lucky enough to have a second chance at.