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The Road Back -- Nowhere to Go but Up (My trip to the Cleveland Clinic)

KenHospitalPostOp I have lost the past two weeks in a sedated haze with tubes down my throat and doctors poking around inside my lungs and heart. 

Holy cow! I've achieved a new level of empathy for what people have to go through to try to regain their health, and in the process of lying flat on my back for 11 days, I now know what it's like to lose almost all of your muscular strength.

Yesterday, it took two guys to help me walk 3 feet to a chair. Today, I was able to walk by myself--shaky and unsteady as long as I had something to use as a "walker." Nancy walked with me up and down the hall and we both agreed we had never expected to see Kenny in this physical condition. 

I can't imagine how this impacts you when you're 85 years old. It's enough to take you out. In fact, more than one doctor has told me in the past 2 weeks that my high level of physical conditioning has helped me endure the problems that I've been aggressively trying to solve during the past year.

Teams of cardiologists and pulmonologists tackled my case and there are differing opinions about what's happening. I got lost in a haze because when they went in to do the initial procedure there were complications and they had to run tubes down my throat. Because of my strong gag reflex, they had to sedate me so the tubes would stay down. 

In the end, apparently there was narrowing of some pulmonary veins and the pressure inside the lungs was imbalanced, causing shortness of breath and bleeding. A couple of cardiac arteries are also up to 80% blocked. I'll have stents put in within a couple of months (I need to build some strength back first, though). 

So how could a guy who has tried to keep in shape all his life develop these problems? One theory is that it's the result some people have who go through laser heart ablations to stop atrial fibrillation (a wacky heartbeat). I had three of these procedures last year. Another theory is that they see calcified spots on my CT scan that suggest my body has had a strong reaction to histoplasmosis -- a fungus that most of us are exposed to during our lives but most of us don't know it.

I talked with some pulmonologists today and a couple of cardiologists. Some have been very interested in my "story" -- the kung-fu teacher who came down with such a condition. I wondered aloud to one cardiologist if I would ever be the same. "Yes you will," he said, "and you shouldn't doubt it."

I love that attitude, but I sure do have my work cut out for me. I've been in the hospital 15 days today. I'm hoping to be released tomorrow. 


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Wishing you all the best...I was worrying when there were no posts since October 15th! I suppose if you can bounce back from all that, I ought to be able to get off my rump and practice.


Herb Rich

Best of luck, Ken- wishes for a speedy recovery!

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