• David Smeltz

My Diagnostic Journey

I’ve made it to 65 years and a few days old. Amazing! I’m currently on the 5th day of wearing a 14 day heart monitor and I have a cardiac catheterization scheduled 4 days from today. Still, life is peachy! I’ve actually been feeling better during the course of the day which I contribute to switching some meds from being taken at the beginning of the day to the end of the day instead. I’m not much on ingesting a bunch of pills these days anyway. When my mother was in hospice they took her off of all the medication she was on and she told me she felt 10 times better and actually outlived her projected expiration date! I was prescribed multiple diuretics to eliminate the fluid build up in my stomach due to the congestive heart failure. It certainly explains why sit ups weren’t flattening my gut! I have to weigh myself every morning and I’m finally maintaining a baseline weight. My blood pressure is crazy low all the time though. As I said, all is peachy no matter what. Heck, I could be out on the street fiending for one more hit. So, yes - all is peachy. The few months leading up to my diagnosis were a trip and ran mostly adjacent to Covid quarantine restrictions. Let me share a small piece of my diagnostic journey with you.

I had been feeling more and more winded in early January 2020. Going up stairs and walking were making me extremely short of breath along with my heart pounding harder than usual in my chest. My primary physician was unavailable so I asked to see someone else. I consulted with a resident physician on January 9th and told her my complaints. She asked about family history and I told her my mother had amyloidosis. I really didn’t know that much about the disease other than my mother dying from complications. My blood tests came back with an elevated Lamda light chain level which didn’t mean a lot to me. My BNP, which signals cardiac efficiency, was high as well...high meaning my heart wasn’t pumping efficiently. The Dr. referred me to a Hemotologist in the Cancer Center which freaked me out! They wanted to test for Multiple Myeloma and AL Amyloidosis which are both blood born diseases. In order to check my plasma and red blood cells I had a bone marrow aspiration performed on February 7th. This was not fun. Did I mention I had a colonoscopy performed January 21st? Well, moving right along. It was suggested I have a fat pad biopsy performed too. I had the fat pad biopsy on February 12th. They basically sliced into my stomach and removed a bunch of superficial fat to examine. Kind of like a poor man’s mini liposuction. I still have the scar and I think it will be there for years to come. On February 13th I had a CT scan. All the tests came back negative. I was referred to a regular Cardiologist and had an EKG of my heart done on February 25th. That EKG showed my heart tap dancing around. Even more so than in January. On March 3rd I performed a spirometry and 6 minute walk test for the Pulmonologist. I told him I had asthma as a kid and that I was allergic to pollen and animal dander. He gave me a steroid inhaler and sent me on my way. On March 9th I had an Echocardiogram done of my heart. I watched the screen while she used ultrasound to get an image and measure the thickness of my heart walls. I was her last patient for the day. I asked her what she saw in her measurements. She replied “ Let’s just say we saved the best for last!”. On March 13th I had my first appointment with a Heart Failure Cardiologist. Believe it or not, this was only the beginning. Just writing about this much has worn me out! I’ll conclude my initial trek to discovery in a subsequent blog. Thanks for allowing me to release this stuff...it helps. Don’t forget..it’s All Peachy! 🍑🙏🏽🍑

Love To All...💛

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