A brief summary of my 2009 illness:
Back before Easter, 2009, I had a fast moving bacterial chest infection. I was in intensive care at the hospital for a week, but essentially the antibiotics and an operation were not enough and my heart & breathing stopped on Easter Sunday. I came back via CPR and an emergency tracheotomy. After a week recovering in the ICU, I had some internal bleeding and my blood stopped coagulating – a condition referred to as “DIC.” They told my wife Abby that I probably would not survive the ensuing surgery, but survive it I did. They needed to put me in a coma for 5 days and feed me with blood products. Eventually, my blood started working again and I could start the healing process.
At first, I needed dialysis and external oxygen, but after a few months my kidneys and lungs returned to full health. After a total of 10 weeks in the hospital – 6 of them in intensive care – I was able to return home in late June 2009. The ordeal also seems to have had an effect on my heart and I developed congestive heart failure along the way.
Although my Department Chair and my Dean told me I could take the fall semester 2009 off from teaching, I insisted on teaching the PhD microeconomics course as scheduled. I am very grateful that they allowed me to do so as I enjoy teaching that class very much. Although lecturing was extremely difficult for me at first, it was the most rewarding part of my day. I was also blessed with having an extremely good group of students.
Update, November 2010
The stomach scar, where they searched for my internal bleeding, became weak and I developed an “incisional hernia.” This was surgically repaired.
Update, April 2011
The congestive heart failure was deemed transient. My left side heart chamber now is healthy once again. Good news!
Update, December 2011
My health had turned a bit worse over the past year or so. Basically just walking on a flat surface feels like I am going uphill -- so you can imagine what walking uphill feels like. Finally it seems that we have traced the problem to severe pulmonary hypertension. I have had pulmonary hypertension as a result of blood clots in my lungs since the late 1990s, although it had remained "moderate." Apparently my medical trauma from 2009, together with changes in medications has worsened the pulmonary hypertension to a severe level. Although not reversible, the condition is treatable with some newer medications. Although the condition is a serious one, I am very relieved to know the source of my breathing problems. I also am happy to be treated by the folks at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Department of Cardiology, which is well regarded in US rankings.
Update, October 2012
The medications had been doing well and my health, while still far from perfect, was much improved. I had to go into the hospital for some scheduled throat surgery in August ... partly to clean up some scaring from my earlier tracheostomy. The surgery went fine, but my body did not react well and I had to spend a few extra days in the hospital, mostly in the ICU. It took a couple of months to recover, but I finally feel up to my pre-surgery health level once again.
Thanks to many of you for your good wishes throughout!
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