IWSG March 4: Traditions

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is enjoying its monthly blog fest invented by Alex J. Cavanaugh. IWSG is a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

The awesome co-hosts for the The awesome co-hosts for the March 4 posting of the IWSG are Jacqui Murray, Lisa Buie-Collard, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, and Shannon Lawrence!

QUESTION: Other than the obvious holiday traditions, have you ever included any personal or family traditions/customs in your stories?

MY ANSWER: I decided to not answer this month’s question. Instead, I’m going to tell you what happened after five stents were installed in my heart. For that part of my story read blog post: IWSG Nov. 6, 2019: Strangest Thing.

February 2020 Rick and I flew back to the States for my follow-up doctor appointment and three-week vacation. I was excited to show my US physician the CD created by my heart doctor in Mexico.

While in Mexico, my cardiologist performed an angiogram of my neck proving the blood flow in my carotid artery was normal. He was adamant: my artery was clear. No blockage. I saw the proof: a video showing my artery with normal flow. I was convinced. No surgery.

I proudly showed my US doctor the CD. I fully expected his agreement. Instead my specialist said, “The artery on your CD is not the carotid artery. That image is your vertebral artery. There is still plaque in your neck and it is blocked 80%. I advise surgery.”

I squeezed my hands in an effort to contain my astonishment. How could two specialist have such different opinions?

Whom do I believe? My heart specialist in Mexico? Or my vascular specialist in the States?

Do I trust this US physician that discovered the blockage in my neck and did not bother to check for blockage in my heart? Why was his PA (Physician Assistant) so reluctant to give me copies of my medical records? I was torn with indecision and filled with uncertainty.

As you can see from my picture, I accepted the US diagnosis and choose to operate.

My Scar (Click image to enlarge.)

I was totally unprepared for the magnitude of this surgery, or the recovery time, or the disfigurement.

I had no idea it was considered major surgery, high risk, and a two month convalescent period.

Our 21-day vacation in California was jammed with appointments including two five-hour round trips to my eye specialist in Los Angeles.

Life was a blur as we jumped to met our demanding schedule.

Meanwhile, Rick was diagnosed with basal cells carcinoma on his forehead. He was operated 11 days after my surgery. Neither of us realized Rick’s operation would be so painful.

Apparently, all the nerves from the back of the head converge near the forehead. Rick suffered intense nerve pain while I struggled to regain my strength.

We flew back to Mexico 48 hours after Rick’s surgery. We needed help getting our suitcases down the dock and placed on our sailboat, La Vita. We were both weak and exhausted.

My first opportunity to completely rest was 16 days after surgery. It was heavenly.

I’ve included a photo of my neck after surgery (see above). They assured me when the scar heals, it’ll just be a white line. Right now, I feel a long rope of lumpy flesh.

Reminder: Plaque can suddenly break off and cause a stroke. That’s why this condition is called the silent killer.

Other than being tired, I had NO symptoms of heart disease or clogged arteries.

QUESTION: Have you or your characters been forced to make a life or death decision? How did it turn out?