In 2009, I became sick at home, suffering some body aches, a cough, and a general feeling of “something is not right.” I was a working Principal for the Oklahoma City Public Schools and it was February and I was in the middle of the stretch between Christmas and Spring Break.
I was told that I had diabetes in the Summer of 2000, some nine years earlier, which led to my heart disease in the winter of that year, having a triple by-pass in early 2001. I had abused my body plenty through the years, as I was a veracious eater, but not a drinker or smoker. To this day I still have never smoked a cigar or cigarette in my life time. I have only been inebriated twice and I did not like the feeling. So yes, I ate myself into heart disease and diabetes, and as we all know from lifestyles, if you have participated in athletics as a younger person, and you do not adjust your eating quantity when you stop or slow down your activity, weight gain is a strong possibility.
When I was diagnosed as diabetic at age 47, I understood that heart problems were related to this disease and somewhere down the road I had to change my lifestyle or I would end up as a corpse on an embalming tray at Smith and Kerneke’s. For me, a somewhat immature person with regard to many things, it is a little disheartening as it is not easy to stop eating what you want. I still struggle with the urge to eat the wrong foods, but with a great family doctor, I have my blood sugar AIC in a much better place today than in the past. Yes, what is good for you and what will kill you is always being discussed. But a total “take control” of your eating pattern was actually a joke in 2009, nine years after I became a diabetic heart patient for life.
I am a person of denial. Have been that way since I can remember. When I had difficutly walking without pain just before I had my heart checked, I chalked it up to other things, not heart problems. Once I did go in and have my heart examined, having the stress tests, the dye test, I was immediately taken to the surgery table for the triple by-pass. as my heart surgeon did not want me to wait another day. I was on the brink of a massive heart attack.
Getting your chest cut open, splitting your rib cage and adjusting your organs to get them out-of-the-way of his work, the doctor was very good in his profession. Having veins from your legs removed and put into your chest, to give your heart good blood flow is not all that pleasant. The chance of not living past the surgery was, at the time less than three percent. I can say this experience was not as bad as I thought it would be. The first night after being cut open is not good, but after that, with some added medicines, it was good to have that feeling that you are not always tired as you even walked the halls of the hospital. I felt much better. This surgery was just another thing to deal with for me, as I have and never will fear dying. As my cardiologist said before he opened me up, if he was not successful in his surgery I would not make it off the table alive. Everything he was to do with this surgery had to be one hundred percent correct when I came off that table. If he screwed up on me, he said I would not be around to know it. That first night after surgery I awoke and asked about the OU Sooners basketball game in the NCAA tournament. That tells you a lot about me. Thankfully I got my heart fixed and as I walked out of Mercy Hospital in 2009 I had beat that devil.
But I had not learned a lesson as I immediately began to eat the same old crap that almost choked my heart to death. Just a few months later I became extremely thirsty, every minute of the day. My weight went from 275 to 220 in a short few months, and if you looked at me you could see I was shriveling up as my body wasted away. I looked like I was beig starved. I was not able to keep my wedding ring on my finger as of the weight loss. I could get ready for bed at night by drinking a large glass of grapefruit juice filled with two heaping teaspoons of sugar, followed by a large glass of cold milk, then a large glass of iced water. Within an hour I would be up using the toilet and going to the kitchen for another large glass of water. My doctor told me I was eliminating 3000 calories a day in my urine and I had to start taking medicine for being a full blown diabetic. The day I was diagnosed as diabetic, NEWSWEEK magazine came out with a full blown look at the disease and I remember just one thing. The article began with the statement, “You want to know what the only good thing about diabetes is?” The answer followed. NOTHING is GOOD about DIABETES.
Back to 2009. From Super Bowl Sunday through the following Wednesday, I was sick in bed. My wife Charolet was able to give me the pain reliever Excedrin and small crushed ice chips. For over 72 hours I laid in the bed, sweating out the sheets about every four hours, as I was in a one of my states of denial. I was feeling some what bad, but not to the extreme of going straight to the doctor. Finally, on the Wednesday of the week after the Super Bowl, I got an appointment have the doctor check my health, and that morning (I had already missed three days of work) I drove myself to the clinic some five miles away. My wife was with me as we finally pulled up in the parking lot. I had avoided crashing the car twice, as she told me that she thought she should have been driving. She was to stay in the car as I entered the clinic for my examination.
My wait at the clinic was short and the nurse Cheryl took me to an examination room for Dr. Floyd to do his check. As I sat on the bed in the room I asked Cheryl for a bottle of water as I was extremely thirsty. She said she did not have one and that was not good for me and especially not good for her, Dr. Floyd, and the Mercy Clinic.
Dr. Floyd came in and asked me what’s wrong Fred? That was all I remember as the in a time period of the next fifteen minutes or so I was not with the world. When I opened my eyes as I was laying on the table in Dr. Floyd’s examination room I looked up and could tell something had happened that I was not aware of. Dr. Floyd was was looking at me with an OKC fireman to his side, a EMSA paramedic on both sides, and nurse Cherly to the side.
Dr. Floyd looked down at me and said “you went out on me Fred.” I remember saying to Cheryl just that second, “you should have had a water for me.” I smiled then tried to get myself together. My wife had heard the fire department and EMSA come to the clinic and finally figured out they were for me. She did come in and found me in somewhat terrible shape.
ESMA took me to the hospital just, just a few miles west (Mercy) and I was put in the emergency room with a Hodge podge of problems. The emergency room doctor could not find a vein and the head physician of Mercy, Dr. Wood, DO, was called to my bedside. As I laid there, I heard, for the first time, one doctor curse out another one, as Dr. Wood was totally unhappy with the resident ER doctor. Dr. Wood took charge, found a vein in my left hand between the fingers and the wrist, and continued to berate the ER man. Getting the tests run as of Dr. Woods orders, he was able to tell me that I was not well and that he was going to send me to ICU for a time. He had mentioned to me at that time (my head had actually cleared up) that my problems were many and that being diabetic was a primary concern and the significant reason that I was as sick as I was. He also did not like the fact that I had stayed at home for three days after becoming sick and that he let me know in any such way that when you are diabetic and you feel bad go to the doctor as soon as you can to see what the problem is.
My initial chart that day listed the following: the flu; pneumonia (in one lung); asphyxia (lack of oxygen); dehydration; and 75 percent kidney failure. I was in serious condition but with proper rest I should recover. I spent three days in ICU.
As we go through this virus that has come to the US from another place in the world, please understand that if you have such things as heart disease, diabetes, lower immune system, of age over 60, overweight, smoking, and or a combination of the listed, your chance of having a bad ending from this virus goes exponentially up. Play with fire as you wish, but I learned my lesson ten years ago. The only good thing that I can remember from having this episode of health was of the hallucinations I had while in ICU. They were quite exciting. Like being on drugs legally and experiencing only good thoughts. Thank god.