Friday, November 21, 2008

good news, bad news

I remember a book from "somewhere in my youth and childhood" called Fortunately. My adult reflection backward is that the theme of it was that all things have a flip side, and we can choose how we look at what is in front of us. It goes something like this: "Fortunately Ned received an invitation to a surprise party. Unfortuantely the party was a thousand miles away. Fortunately a friend loaned Ned an airplane. Unfortunately the motor exploded. Fortunately there was a parachute in the plane. Unfortunately there was a hole in the parachute..." You get the idea.

We've had that kind of week here. A few weeks ago Ken began to experience chest pains, and then had episodes of shortness of breath. We got him to the doctor last week, and a few days ago he had a stress test. The doctor called Tuesday afternoon with the results, and they weren't good. A normal, healthy heart pumps blood from the left ventricle (what is called an ejection fraction: EF) at a capacity of 50-55%. Ten or so years ago Ken was diagnosed with a cardiomyopathy, which is essentially a weakness of the heart muscle that results in inefficient pumping from that left ventricle. His EF then was 26%. At 25% the heart is generally in need of a transplant, if it is pumping sufficiently at all. The ejection fraction from this week's stress test was 30%.

Initially we weren't able to get an appointment to see the cardiologist for follow-up for two weeks, but this wife wasn't happy with that schedule, and we were able to get in yesterday. In the intervening 48 hours we lived in a state of numbness and anticipatory grief. Ken faced the possibility of having to give up his business and livelihood, and it would be the second time his health would force that hand. Every other sentence started with the word "if," or assumed that the news from the doctor would mandate what we feared.

The good news is that the doctor believes that medication, along with a regular exercise routine, will be sufficient to get Ken back on track. He will need to take it easy for a little while to allow the medication to take effect, but the doctor has not restricted his activity. We are relieved, and very grateful.

Still, we learned from the doctor that Ken's story is outside the realm of statistics. Most cardiomyopathy diagnoses don't live more than 5 years. He's gone ten. Most diagnoses result in an average of 3 hospitalizations a year. He has had none since the first diagnosis. In many respects he is a walking miracle. We are also in territory that is totally unknown.

We are taking each day as it comes, and imagining that we have years to come. We can do no less. For richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health--we're there, we're doing it. As a colleague of mine states the request, we covet your prayers.


madcow said...

Another curve ball for you both - I'm sorry. I hope the meds have the desired effect. Big hugs to both of you!

Jayne said...

Let's assume that with medication and exercise, things will be getting back to that higher EF%. And, of course, prayers ascend for a healthier, peaceful heart. XOXOXOXO

Pam in Moncton said...

You have my prayers. Hope the meds do the trick and that will be all he needs, along with the exercise. Hugs for both of you.

karen said...

Keeping Ken, ..and you in my Prayers.
Praying the conservative medical treatment is all that is needed!

Janet M said...

That's a lot to think about and learn about forboth of you, hopefully with good care and of course your care he'll get stronger all the time. Hugs to both of you and those brownie desserts in your other post look fantastic.
Hugs to both of you,

Kip said...

I believe in positives and yes, I will even add both of you to my prayers.


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