I thought we had found the problem and the solution but, nay, not so. I have blamed Ed’s health issues in the past year on many things, from drinking too much caffeine and alcohol to COPD. I’m starting to think that it was a combination of problems and we are finding them little by little.
He started out just having problems with not being able to walk very far without having to stop and rest. If he stood up and immediately started walking, he tended to get dizzy and sometimes ended up on the floor. He learned to stand up and get his bearings before starting to walk. When the symptoms didn’t get any better, he took a breathing test for Dr. John and we found that he was not taking in enough oxygen. Yes, he failed a breathing test! He apparently was breathing just fine but wasn’t getting enough oxygen into his system. Ok, AdVair, Theophylline, and Ventolin were prescribed. It seemed to be working … at least for a while. It definitely helped.
Unfortunately, the symptoms returned and kept getting worse. Recently, he blacked out after standing. Yeah, that was definitely a new twist. To say that family and friends were worried is definitely an understatement. Last week, he went back to see Dr. John and was scheduled for an MRI on his head, a chest x-ray, and an echo-something on his carotid artery. It really didn’t take that long today but it felt like it took all day long!
It seemed to go just fine until the last test, the echo-something. The technician had difficulty getting a good reading for the Right ICA. Grrrr. I hate acronyms!!! That stands for the inner carotid artery on the right side. The technician brought in the senior technician and just couldn’t get a really good picture. There was a severe constriction of the carotid artery and they talked with Dr. John before letting us leave, just in case he wanted another echo-something or an MRA done. He didn’t so after 3 pm today, we went and grabbed lunch at Frilly’s Seafood. Good stuff!!!
We don’t know what Dr. John will recommend but Ed has another appointment set up for this Wednesday, when Dr. John can explain what our options are and the risks associated with them. In researching WebMD online, there are at least 3 possible recommendations:
1) Change lifestyle habits, such as avoiding weight gain, a healthy diet, increase exercise to at least 30 minutes most days of the week, and limit alcohol.
2) Take medications as prescribed, which Ed is already doing now, for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a daily aspirin.
3) Improve blood flow, such as CEA (Carotid endarterectomy), which means they surgically remove the plaque and sew the artery back together, OR CAS (Carotid artery stenting), which means they enter through the groin, use a balloon to open the blocked artery, and place a small stainless steel mesh tube inside the artery to hold it open. The CAS is the newer treatment option and one that I think I would prefer since it is less invasive and is permanent, but there is a controversy about how much it helps.
We’ll just have to see what Dr. John suggests and trust his judgment. I’ll write more after Wednesday when we know more.