I've been back from the appointment with my vascular surgeon for a couple of hours. I've had time to digest a reality that's part of me. My carotid arteries are hardening, one totally and the other partially.
My surgeon said the doppler taken yesterday showed that my left carotid is still completely blocked and always will be. My right was described by the doppler techs as less than 50 percent. But Dr. Controneo said after watching the video he would estimate the flow as being 20 to 30 percent restricted.
What does this mean? I'll be taking a blood thinner for the rest of my life unless the blockage becomes greater. They would then put in a stent to clear out the blockage on the right side.
My life goes back to a new normal which will be shaped by my appointment with a neurologist on Monday to check if my brain tumor--a menginoma--has taken on a new twist or if I have Parkinson's as a couple of healthcare providers have suggested as a possibility.
Meanwhile, I'm getting ready to walk outside with my wife. It's a beautiful Michigan spring day and I need to stay active more than ever.
What's next? I have no idea, other than I need to keep praying and listening for God and his promise to protect and walk beside me. Maybe I'll sing a little louder in church this weekend.
I have reason to. He Is Risen!
We got home from the doppler test on my left and right carotid arteries. The unofficial good news is that the blockages haven't gotten any worse. Of course, my left carotid is completely blocked and that won't change and the right is still letting blood flow through. Tomorrow, we will find out what percentage of the artery is blocked. It had been 20 percent.
The other good news is that humans are created with a redundant set of arteries in the neck if one gets blocked. That's what happened on my left side. Arteries grew to replace my blocked one and its supplying blood to my face and my eyes. And then there's the Circle of Willis which takes over when needed.
I don't pretend to understand this all, but I'm impressed with the way God created humans. There's backup circulation at least for the carotids. I'm anxious to learn more.
Tomorrow, I have an appointment with the vascular surgeon to make all this official.
I feel my gut tightening up about tomorrow and next week at the vascular surgeon and the neurologist
My grandson Xavier gave me this coffee mug and I'll be thinking about what it says when I have a doppler taken of my carotid arteries tomorrow morning. I'll also be thinking about the phrase from the Ephesians chapter one which can be summarized by four words "Remember Who You Are."
And I'll be thinking about it next week when I have a hour-and-a-half neurologist's appointment to determine if I have Parkinson's Disease. For me my health continues to be a distraction.
In recent weeks, I have had increasing difficulty in being comfortably mobile because of skeletal stiffness. My voice has changed from being strong to barely a whisper. My balance is way off . It increased with almost twenty visits to a physical therapy clinic. My gait is not normal with me walk way stooped over.
Back to my carotids, one is completely blocked and the other a few months ago was 20 percent. Then there's my eyes. My cornea transplant seems to be working most of the time. And my glaucoma affects my vision.
What does all this mean as my gut tightens not knowing what the future will bring? I know that God selected me as his dearly loved son and I'll be grabbing onto that hope.
Will I continue to write about my health? You bet. Doing so, helps me sort out my feelings and to share with my grandkids that people get older and sometimes, they get sick.
March 6, 2019, Wednesday just before lunch
Let me introduce myself. I'm your mother's father which makes me one of your two grandfathers. Only six people in the whole world can call me grandpa and you're one of them. Your grandma, your mother's mom, is Gladys.
You are now a member of our family. One of the greatest joys I've had in my life is being part of this family. It's a place where you get a big part of your identity. You'll always be known as the son of Adam and Krista. It's also a source of strength and encouragement and laughter.
You and I talked ourselves out the day you came home from the hospital. We talked about everything, including your parents and your brothers and sisters and food and countries to visit and cars to drive. After more than an hour I nodded off with your eyes still open. You are a good listener.
I love you little man. Jesus loves you too and so do your parents and siblings, as well as your other grandparents. You are loved. Never forget that. Remember Who You Are.
We'll talk more later.
Again, welcome to our family which is now made better by your arrival.
I needed a haircut. I don't have much hair left, but a little growth on the top of my head can make me look really shabby. A few years ago, we bought clippers and my wife started cutting it. Because of the shape of my head, I have the cue ball look. But, it looks much better.
Now where do we go for lunch with the money we saved by DIY.
As we were walking through our almost rural neighborhood, I noticed that I was bending forward more and more and my back was starting to hurt. It got worse. And when I went for my annual physical, my primary care provider suggested physical therapy.
Having a really strong desire to fix my awkward walking that made me look like more of an old man than I actually am, I readily agreed to go. I was hesitant at first not knowing what to expect.
I can see the light at the end of the tunnel where this can be fixed. Our below zero weather with a horrendous windchill has kept me from any real deep walks, but I'm noticing improvements.
Walking through the doors of Orthopedic Rehab Specialists in Holt here's what I found. My concerns about being judged for my age and my lack of physical fitness were unfounded. The physical therapists and their aides are really up people.
My main PT is Aaron Holly, a fortyish health care provider, who has been very patient with me and forthcoming about challenges that I might face. Then there's Joanna, a PT who has been always up and encouraging and very willing to explain what she's doing.
I get a special t-shirt when I "graduate" from my PT treatment. I'll wear it with pride and as a reminder that I can slow down this aging thing. I have to keep up the effort.
My mom--Frieda--had five sisters who grew-up in the Thumb of Michigan. Looking at this picture makes me wish I would have had iPhone with video. These women had a real story to tell about growing up on a sugar beet farm from the time the oldest of them was real young to the youngest from the early 1900s to the early 1930s.
Their family of twelve siblings, including six brothers were real heroes who were the grandchildren of immigrants from Germany. They lived through extreme poverty, backbreaking work from the time they were children and the loss of both parents at a very young age.
They kept the family together after moving to Bay City. With the deaths of my mom and her brothers and sisters many if not most of the details were lost.
Theirs is a story that would have rivaled Little House on the Prairie. Their parents--my maternal grandfather and grandmother died way before I was born.
I spent a lot of time this past year with an old, blind beggar named Bartimaeus who was blind on the road out of Jericho and who had the temerity to shout out to Jesus to heal his blindness. This past year I read and reread this story because of my rapidly declining vision.
As I waited to be admitted to the University of Michigan Kresge Eye Center, Pastor David Maier and his wife Pat came off the elevator. I was taken aback a little when he prayed for God to heal my vision. I was a fallen away Lutheran and he was the head of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in Michigan. He prayed anyways with a great deal of passion.
He prayed for the transplant surgeon and all the people involved in this ever so delicate surgery when somebody died in order for me to have their cornea.
As I face more things going awry in my head and neck such as plugged carotid arteries, a large mass on my tongue and a goiter working on becoming a softball, I can see from this post that I need to pray like Bartimaeus, a plain old beggar on the side of the road in Israel.
I'm not a fancy church guy who can quote much of the Bible from memory. I grew up on the poorest side of Bay City, right on the river. I'm not a big contributor to the church, but I know that Jesus loves me.
Pastor Maier connects the dots with this post. It's practical and real life and it's worth of sharing.
I started this episode of my weight loss journey tipping the scales at the high 220s and yesterday I showed I was down to 187. One of my enemies is snacking, particularly after supper. As I inch towards my goal of 175, I've become more dependent on plain yogurt and frozen fruit pieces to satiate my desire for food. And this includes pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top. We also have it at meals.
When you think of plain yogurt, your first reaction might be "yuck." At first, it seems tasteless but after awhile, you can taste its nuances and layers, especially with the fruit.
After I reach my goal, I know I need to keep it off because of my carotid artery disease. One is blocked 100 percent and the other less than 20. I know that if I'm not at peak health for a 72 years old, I would be a prime candidate for a stroke. That's motivating.
Now, I need to get the exercise in line.
Was MSU President John Engler a bully when he was in the Michigan Legislature and when he was governor?
At the MSU School of Journalism, they called it a string book. It held clippings of what you had published in a newspaper and it was usually bound together strings in two or three places on the margin. Over the years, my string book morphed into a several and then into a collection of good sized boxes. It survived several moves and a couple of marriages.
I've been paring down my collection of columns and stories I wrote. I found this one written when former Gov. Engler was a member of the Michigan House of Representatives while he was in his late twenties. He's now the acting president of MSU.
His leadership style morphed into what many have described as skillful bullying. Was it intimidation or just being an effective leader?
Was Engler a role model for Trump or vice versa? The stories are legend.
I never met my grandpa or grandma on my mother's side, but this picture makes me regret that we never got acquainted. This picture makes me regret that I never heard his stories about being a sugar beet farmer in Michigan's Thumb where my mom grew up. He's on the left and his brother is in the middle. As I become more and more experienced at being a grandparent, I want my six grandkids to know me and my life. This old photo is part of a collection that my mother left me when she died.
I am not well practiced in buying the right Christmas gift. That's why this year, I bought my wife skeleton pajamas. She's wearing them, particularly in our condo when it's cold first thing in the morning. Where did I find them? Where does America shop? That's where I got them.
I was saying goodbye to my then four-year-old grandson at the Split, Croatia airport when I pinned this on him. I tried to tell him in a pre-schooler sort of way what it meant. And then I pinned it on him and said "don't worry" if you lose it. I had more, I told him.
Then I read the devotion this morning from Our Daily Bread about the birth of Jesus and how he wasn't born as a king in some sort of Trump Tower kind of place. It was like the cow farms about a half mile down from us where in spring mornings you can smell the animals and all the poop they leave in the fields.
Right now, the world seems to be awash in sin. Hate seems to be the favored four-letter word. There's an answer and that's what we are celebrating today. I have to remind myself everyday of the hope that he gives us. It's the only real hope that sticks like Gorilla Glue.
I want my grandson Xavier to never forget that and I want to encourage him to talk about it with his siblings and his cousins, as well as his friends.
By the way, the verse about Him not breaking a bruised reed is from Isaiah 42:1-4.
Because of circumstances I write about in other posts in this blog, I can really identify with the words in this song. I had never heard of Lauren Daigle until I read an email devotion from the church we used to attend-Ada Bible Church just east of Grand Rapids. The devotion is one I will print off and save and read often if not everyday.
I remember Pastor Jeff Manion preaching about identity from the same passage--I remember vividly his emphasis "Remember Who You Are."
This is a real Christmas gift from Him to all of us, including me.
When we sitting on the couch eating lunch this afternoon while watching Everybody Loves Raymond, my wife caught this on Facebook. It got me to thinking about my age and how pay attention to the location of the john when I'm out and around.
I also pee a couple times during the night. I've started to use that time to pray for my kids and grandkids and, of course, for my wife.
Should churches develop prayer lists for their senior members to use when they go to the bathroom during the middle of the night? God doesn't have hours, right? We can't wake him up. He's always awake and has a free ear to listen.
I'm going through old pictures from Yahoo's soon to be closed-down photo storage sight called Flickr and I ran across this gem from the 2003 Promise Keepers in Las Vegas. Our son Justin was studying at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York and needed a break, so he and I hopped a plane from our different locations and met in Las Vegas.
It was the ultimate guys' weekend where we spent our time hearing and talking about our relationship with God. What a backdrop for a national men's Christian group. After it was over we walked the strip, ate some food and talked about everything. It was a God-given chance for a father and son to get to know each other on a more intimate basis.
We went together to 10 more PK rallies and grew that bond even tighter. I thank God for that chance and that we were able to take advantage of it.
Nothing like the threat of a major, catastrophic health event to make a believer in you for major changes like weight loss. As part of my vision care after a cornea transplant about six months ago, I had a "CAT" scan which showed that I had one carotid that was blocked a hundred percent and the other was blocked around 20 percent.
Vascular surgeons said the risk is too great for a stroke on the artery that's completely blocked. Only treatment that works is blood thinners.
At the time, I weighed 220 plus. The scales above show what I weighed this morning. My goal is 175. How'd I do it? Complete support of my wife and with the new and improved online version of Weight Watchers. Do I feel like I've deprived myself in what I can eat? Not really.
For instance, I love Greek yogurt. Now I eat plain yogurt with some fruit on top and it's great. Once a week, we'll have poached eggs with dry toast and that's great too. Can I stay at it? I've lost weight before. This time I have potential consequences if I don't keep it off.
This all makes me wonder about how many other people have blocked carotids. This all started because of decreased blood flow to my eye with the new cornea.
Because of our move from the city of Lansing to the far end of a southern suburb and because of no easy access to freeways, we decided to give Trinity Church in Lansing a try. For eight years, we had attended Ada Bible Church on the east side of Grand Rapids where we faithfully made the 50-mile trip each way every weekend.
As we--my wife and I--get to the end of another year, we are carefully evaluating what we have done this past year and what we want to change next year. Church is right on the top tier of our list.
What factors should we plug into our decision-making? By going to Trinity we have a 15-minute ride. That's certainly a consideration. Are we growing closer to God because of attending this nearby church? What else?
My life is pretty much chronicled in pictures taken with my cell phone. A lot of them involve family, especially our grandkids, what we read and what we eat.
On the top left is a shot of me just before a doctor at Michigan State University took a fine needle biopsy of my thyroid. They were checking for a malignancy on my oversized thyroid and accompanying goiter. The many needles didn't hurt and "praise God" everything right now is benign, no cancer.
Right next to it on the top row is a picture of me and one of my four grandsons. He and I had lunch together at a Pot Belly near his house. The kid is a charmer. Not much more to say about this one. It speaks for itself.
In the middle row is a shot of one of my favorite meals, a black bean burger with half a baked acorn squash. I loved it and I can't pretend to be a food snob. For me, eating something without ketchup is being "hoity toity."
The book on the right in the middle row is a Christmas present for my two year-old grandson who posed above with me. He loves trucks of all types, especially if they are big and make lots of noise. I can't wait for he and I to read it together.
More food on the third row. On the left is taco soup with lean white meat. It's one of my favorites and next to it is a dish that goes back to my childhood. Stuffed peppers has been a favorite of mine since I was a little kid. My mom made it and it was great. My wife's is better than my mom's.