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?

17 thoughts on “IWSG March 4: Traditions

  1. Sorry for all your health challenges. It can be so hard when you get conflicting advice. Hope your husband and you have a speedy recovery.

    1. Hi Natalie,
      In Mexico, my doctor recorded the entire procedure on video. In the US, they provide written surgery report listing what they did. Not the amount of plaque they found during the surgery. I still have questions, but we are both on the mend and that’s the important part.
      Thank you for co-hosting IWSG and taking time to share your thoughts.

  2. I look at your photo, read your experience, … and want to cry. You have been forced to endure so much. I just wish I could wave a magic wand and make you both 100% better. Can’t, but I can send healing thoughts. Wishing you and Rick speedy recoveries. Best wishes always.

    1. Hi Joy,
      Your healing thoughts working! Both Rick and I are slowly recovering. It’s been a long road, that’s for sure. Thanks for visiting; I always enjoy hearing from you!

  3. Wow. I’m so sorry it went down like this, for you and for your husband. Please take a lot of time to recuperate. Hope you both feel better soon…

    1. Hi Lisa,
      I’m still baffled by the conflicting advice. We both are mending as expected. Thanks for your good thoughts.
      Thank you for co-hosting IWSG and I’m planning to follow your advice.

  4. Hi,
    First, I am so happy and thankful that the both of you made it through those horrendous times. You’re both alive and getting well and that is something to be thankful for.
    When my husband was alive, he had to make a decision about brain surgery. The neurologist told him they did those kind of surgeries every day but said he couldn’t give him any guarantee that there would be no brain damage. My husband decided against it and I supported his decision one hundred percent. As I look back at the situation, I am glad I did support him. He had about three or four years that he enjoyed before he started going down.
    Get well soon and hang in there.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

    1. Hi Pat,
      My heart breaks knowing your husband had to make one of the most difficult decisions ever asked of us. I’m grateful you both were in agreement which added joy and happiness to your lives. I often think about your tag line, “Everything Must Change.” Thank you for visiting and sharing your personal experience with me. Wishing you peace and inspiration.

    1. Hi Alex,
      Living on a boat demands constant attention; especially for Rick. We are both doing our best to take a siesta each afternoon. Yes, the decision was a risk. My silent killers should be eliminated by now.
      Thanks for visiting & taking a moment to comment.

  5. That’s amazing–such different opinions. Third opinion? Don’t know your insurance… My husband had the heart issues (which ended in quadruple bypass) and the basal cell carcinoma. Lucky guy. Yuck about all the pain for your husband. My husband had none. I hope all is going well now!

    1. Hi Jacqui,
      I wanted a third opinion, also. That simply wasn’t possible because we live in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. When we returned to the US for our medical updates, we pay about $150 per day for lodging, car rental, food, plus air fare. I will have another ultra sound of my neck in six months. It will be performed here in Puerto Vallarta. That might tell me something.
      I’m sorry your husband had to have a quadruple bypass. I’ve been told that is a long recovery. I hope he is fully recovered.
      Both Rick and I had basal cell carcinoma removed a couple of years ago. Like you, no pain. This location was near the hairline, above the forehead. Apparently, there are a lot of nerve endings there. We were caught by surprise.
      Thank you for co-hosting the March IWSG Blog-hop and taking time to share your thoughts.

  6. Wow, that is amazing at the different opinions. I wondered why the other doctor did not know that was not the right artery. Sorry you had such hard time with recovery, both of you. I hope you are both feeling much better now.

    No immediate challenges like that yet.

    1. Hi Juneta,
      I’m still amazed the doctor did not know the right artery. We’re back in Mexico and I’ll make an appointment with him and we’ll chat. I have to figure out a way to tactfully discuss the subject. I don’t want to insult him.
      Thanks for stopping by and taking a moment to share your thoughts with me. Wishing you peace and joy.

  7. what an insane journey! so glad we get to hear the happy ending and hope you are feeling completely “normal” again. we forget how wonderful “boring” can be.

    and thanks for stopping by my Beast World campaign at Alex’s

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