Two hospital visits on the same day

transthoracic echocardiogram

hospitalHow I had two hospital visits on the same day. Well, of a sort.

Monday, October 10: Leslie and I return to Albany, stopping to pick up a lot of Italian food. My wife also wanted us to pick up her prescription pain medication, but it wasn’t there. Her doctor’s office had failed to send the info either that day or the following morning. She increasingly needed pain relief, particularly from the inflammation of her left foot. Finally, it was filled, and I retrieved it.

Moreover, in addition to the infection of her ankle, a blister developed on her left shin. When I think of a blister, I think of a tiny, though irritated, area. This was considerably larger. As my wife later suggested, it was also appropriate for the holiday season because it like as though it was from a zombie.

Leslie and I saw my daughter before she left the next morning with about a third of the food, which was fine.

Tuesday, October 11: We were going to go to a timeshare in the Berkshires, but my wife couldn’t stand the pain of being in the car for an hour. Plan B:  After we put the one cat in the basement, Leslie came over and washed the dishes while I attempted to straighten up the house and tend to my wife.

Wednesday, October 12: Leslie and I went to the rental car place to return the vehicle. She Ubered to the airport, and I took the bus home. I certainly didn’t mind taking care of my wife, but it ate into most of my time for food prep and just helping her to get from one point to another.

The day without end

Thursday, October 13: My wife and I had separate medical visits. I went to the cardio section of St. Peter’s Hospital to get a transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE). What is THAT? It is “a test that uses ultrasound (sound waves) to create images of your heart. TTE can determine how well your heart is functioning and identify causes of cardiac-related symptoms.”

I’m getting this test because of this. I used to get one annually, but then my cardiologist retired, and no one in the office followed up. So I had to get my primary care physician (PCP) to contact another practice in Schenectady, who I had seen a couple of weeks earlier. BTW, the Ellis Hospital main phone line sucks. I was in phone hell for ten minutes before abandoning it, Googling the directish number I needed, and calling that.

Part 2

So after the test, I went home, ate lunch, and watched a recorded episode of JEOPARDY. But before I could finish it, my wife called and said that HER PCP was displeased with the progress of her leg. The antibiotics should have done more. She should go to the emergency room and be admitted. I was to meet there, at St. Peter’s, where I had just come from.

We both arrived around 2:30 p.m.; she’d gotten a ride from the church friend who had taken her to the doctor. After two hours, she was called to the triage office, which involved her using her crutches to hobble there. Yes, the nurse there said my wife should be admitted. She finally got a wheelchair.

Around 6, I went home to take the trash to the curb, feed the cats, and, most importantly, make my wife a sandwich. The selection of graham crackers, saltine crackers, and Lorna Doones has dissipated over time. The bottled water is gone, with just some ginger ale cans.

Finally, my wife gets to go to a bed attached to the ER. I go in about a half hour later as it becomes obvious that she won’t see anyone for a while. At about 11 pm, I go home.


Friday, October 14: She tells me that several medical folks saw her overnight, some of which involved doctors waking her in the middle of the night. Around noon, she’s on the fifth floor. But she doesn’t have a room yet. And she hasn’t eaten or even drunk water since 8 pm the night before because the vascular surgeon was supposed to see her.

I arrive on the 5th floor at about 1:45 pm and find my wife, who doesn’t yet have a room. She’s on the floor, with some partitions providing a modicum of privacy. Then I got a call maybe 10 minutes after I arrived. It was my MIL wanting to know how her daughter was doing; I hadn’t spoken to her since we were still in the ER.

Finally, at about 2 pm, my wife gets a room. More importantly, since it was established that the vascular guy WOULDN’T see her that day, she got some food!

I was very distressed by all of this. It was my impression that her PCP could call the hospital and bypass the hours of waiting. I figured it would be like my last ER visit in August. Of course, that was a perceived heart thing in a less busy hospital. One of the medical professionals we spoke with subsequently said that’s just how health care is, especially in the last three years.

Health report, from head to toe

Golden Oreos

headtotoeI haven’t done a full-scale health report in a while. Actually, I’ve been impressed how Arthur, for instance, here and here and here, has been quite open about his health challenges. So from head to toe, me.

Head (inside): I briefly saw a shrink online in 2021. Part of it was technological, specifically that I was supposed to use my old phone, and it didn’t work to their office’s technological needs. In any case, I was put off by the process. Then the personal connection with the therapist just didn’t happen. Maybe I’ll try with someone else this year.

Skin: As noted, I have vitiligo. I had been getting an annual full-body skin exam for three years running. The next appointment was scheduled for June 2020, but of course, did not happen. I had one scheduled for January 2022, but then got an appointment at the very end of 2021. Except for my feet (see below), A-OK.

Eyes: my vision is such that I need a good amount of light to see some objects. For instance, if the remote control, which is black, were sitting on the dark brown cabinet in the underlit living room, I’d have a difficult time seeing it. If I were driving, I’d probably not do so at night. I’ll likely have cataract surgery in 2023.

Nose: occasionally runny, but the allergies are mostly under control.

Teeth: Cavity in the lower left part of my mouth. It probably would have been caught earlier if not for COVID.

The heart of the matter

Heart: As I’ve noted, I may have a congenital bicuspid aortic valve. At some point in the next year or two or five, I’ll need surgery. Meanwhile, I’ve taken my blood pressure almost every day for nearly two years. It’s amazingly consistent, for the most part.

Body: Too much of it. I’ve been flirting with diabetes and hit the magic threshold. Now I’m seeing a nutritionist. My levels have clicked back down to pre-diabetes levels, but naturally, I still have to be vigilant.

One very bizarre thing I’ve discovered recently is that, when I’m grocery shopping, my desire for certain snack foods is driven by price. I can walk by those Golden Oreos, which I love, when the package is $5 or more. But when they were on sale for $3 in December, I was sorely tempted, especially since my wife and daughter like them as well. But no. And I actually had my hand on a packet of bakery-quality apple turnovers. A four-pack, two for only $5. No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

Knee: Specifically, the left knee I tore the meniscus in 1994, and it’s hurt pretty much since. I wore the knee brace back when I played racquetball, and I put it on now when I know I’m going to be walking a distance. If I’m walking on an uneven surface – lawns are particularly treacherous – I use the walking stick someone made for me.


Feet: I was going to say that my feet are my Achilles’ heel but decided against it. Back in Binghamton, when I was 12, a bunch of us walked to see our 6th-grade teacher, Mr. Peca, who lived near the airport, about 10 miles each way. By the return trip, I had ruined the shoes with my pigeon-toedness. I got frostbite in both feet when I was 16.

Wearing hard-soled shoes has been an agony for decades. That’s why I almost always wore sneakers. I made the tactical error of wearing a  pair of shoes, new ones at that, when I was on JEOPARDY in 1998! By the end of the second game, I was pretty miserable. This is why I believe in function over form.

For the last year or more, I have had neuropathy in my feet, especially the left one. For a time, I was so miserable – they felt as though they were burning from the inside – I was literally in tears. Since I’ve been taking Gabapentin, the misery has stopped, but they still as though someone has bound them. I COULD take more medicine, but I am loath to do so.

Only this fall, I got orthotic inserts for my shoes. This required getting better shoes, which I got at an SAS shoe store in the area. GOOD service, BTW. (And not a paid endorsement.)

I tend not to write this stuff often, less out of a sense of privacy and more about not wanting to bore myself, let alone y’all.

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