Friday, March 2, 2018

Staying Healthy Involves More Than Beating Cancer

On 2/22/18 at 7am, I was standing in my bathroom. Suddenly, crushing chest pain brought me to the ground. I found myself lying on my bathroom floor struggling to breathe. It felt as though an elephant was sitting on my chest. I discovered taking short, rapid breaths enabled me to breathe.

 My panic subsided once had sufficient air.
I wondered whether I was going to take my last breath alone, on my bathroom floor, I laughed out loud. The thought of surviving  prostate cancer, only to die in my bathroom struck me as humorously ironic. I thought of two options:
• I had my cell phone. If I dialed 911 help would arrive in a matter of minutes.
•My wife was sleeping on the other side of the door. I wondered if I should wake her to say what could be my last words.

Lying on the floor, I recalled the last time I went to an ER complaining of chest pain and pain radiating down my right arm. An hour after my arrival to the ER, still waiting for my exam, I worried about the possibility of dying in the ER waiting room. I left the ER, and drove to the nearest Urgent Care Center.

As soon as I described my complaint I was ushered into an exam room and hooked up to an IV. A short time later, an ambulance arrived. They drove me back to the ER where I'd waited for an hour!

Arriving to the ER by ambulance I was immediately given an EKG and blood tests. This was my third time going to an ER with chest pain. Hours later, I was told there was nothing wrong with my heart. I felt like the boy who cried "Wolf." There was no way I'd go to an ER for the fourth time with a complaint of chest pain.

So, I remained on the floor until the pain went away. When it did, I quietly left the bathroom and went downstairs. About two hours later I went upstairs to wake my wife. About three hours after walking, her I told her about my experience in the bathroom.

I wasn't surprised when she suggested I immediately go to the ER. In the spirit of compromise, I called my doctor. His office said they could see me in four days. I set my appointment.

When I told my wife I had a doctor's  appointment in four days, she wasn't as pleased with me, as I was with myself. She wanted me to get a medical evaluation now. I was adamantly against an ER visit, so I called an Urgent Care Center. I explained that I'd experienced chest pain five hours ago and that I needed an EKG to assess if there was any damage to my heart. They gave me an appointment in thirty minutes. I was delighted.

My wife drove me to the Urgent Care Center. Twenty minutes later a staff member called my name. She said “I'm sorry to inform you that our location doesn't have an EKG.” I told her that when I called for my appointment I specifically stated that I needed an EKG. I asked why they didn't tell me there wasn’t an EKG.

She explained that the location I called for my appointment had a EKG. Naturally, my next question was: "Why would they send me to the location without an EKG when I stated specifically that I needed an EKG?" She shrugged her shoulders and apologized.

Frustrated and annoyed, I asked my wife to drive me home. She suggested we drive directly to the ER. It was time for a compromise. I promised I'd immediately inform her (rather than wait five hours) if I experienced another incident of chest pain. She told me she'd call 911, which meant I'd be heading to an ER by ambulance.

I accepted our compromise with the belief there was no way my chest pain would return.  I felt grateful I'm blessed with a wife who takes an active role in my health care decisions.

Four days later I saw my doctor. They performed an EKG. It was normal. I felt vindicated, for my decision to avoid the ER. As a PC survivor, it's easy to get laser focused on surviving prostate cancer, that we neglect other aspects of our health.

Cleveland Clinic surveyed five hundred men. They found only three in five men get an annual physical, and just over 40 percent go to the doctor only when they fear they have a serious medical condition.
Just as our cars have maintaince schedules, we need yearly physicals.
Our partner, our children, grandchildren,  great-grandchildren, family, and friends, appreciate our ongoing efforts to stay in their lives by taking care of our health.
My Doctor referred me to a Cardiologist.

 I'm keeping that appointment.

Note: This article appeared in Prostate Cancer News Today 

Rick Redner and his wife Brenda Redner wrote two award winning books. The first:
provides men and couples with information and support before, during and after prostate surgery.

Their second book was written after the couple dealt with erectile dysfunction for four years following Rick's double nerve sparing surgery. The book was written for men and couples coping with erectile dysfunction. The title of their book is:

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