Some welcome home…
I leave a tropical paradise, heavily populated by women so beautiful they rival les belles Montréalaises, only to arrive home to what feels like 6 feet of that wet, heavy, good old Montreal snow. I couldn’t have picked a better day to land… c’est la vie! The first snowfall of the year is hard on everyone, all the more so on the day you arrive home from Costa Rica. Just my luck!
I’m sure everyone is on the edge of their seat, waiting for an update on my experience down South. And rightfully so; it was all of you that made it possible. Never in my life did I ever hope so forcefully that they would find something wrong with me! Good news; the initial Doppler ultrasound detected and 80% blockage in my left internal jugular vein (LIJV) and a 60% blockage in my right internal jugular (RIJV). Both my iliac (pelvic) and azygous (spinal cord) veins were obstruction free. Success! I was a viable candidate for surgery. Just as quickly as I got the news, I was on the operating table having my left femoral vein sliced open, a catheter inserted, and balloon angioplasty being performed immediately following the venogram — the venogram which provided a more accurate measure of the blockages in my veins; as it would turn out, “during the procedure stenosis of 80% of the proximal segment and 90% at the distal segment of the right internal jugular vein were seen associated to reflux and slow flow. The left internal jugular vein presented an 80% narrowing. Dilation of these lesions was induced through the placement of a 18 x 40 mm Boston XXL Balloon and a 14 x 40 mm Maxi-LD Balloon. Improved vessel caliber, flow velocity and direction were seen following the dilation.”
These were the notes that were provided to me post-op. You’ll have to forgive me for the jargon, it really just seems easiest to copy and paste what the professionals noted. And while I’m no doctor, common sense dictates that they found something, something that was not right. And so, rightfully, they did what they could do safely to effectively eliminate the blockages – at least for now. The next step is to make an appointment with my general practitioner, and see if he is willing to write up a consult for me to have my internal jugular veins scanned in three months time to ensure that the blockages are still clear. In the interim, a pretty radical lifestyle change needs to occur; no more smoking. Anything. No more drinking. Anything – while I’m sure the occasional glass of wine wouldn’t kill me, the problem is that with me, it’s all or nothing. That being the case, the logical conclusion is to go with ‘nothing’. Because in this instance, that nothing could turn into my everything.
The days and months ahead are going to be hard. They are going to be filled with 7-day weeks where I will be exercising endlessly, trying to tone my atrophied leg and core muscles, all with the eventual hope that I can form new neural pathways to get my legs working. While it would have been great to come out of surgery with miraculous improvements, it just was not in the cards for me. I instead must keep working, keep pushing, and follow the advice of the medical professionals that treated me in Costa Rica.
To my surgeon, Dr. Diaz, to the physical therapy team that treated me post-op (Andrea, Sofie, Claudio — who I have affectionately nicknamed ‘the Hulk’), to the nursing staff who played nurse and psychologist and babysitter for many of us (Beverly and Javier), and to all the fellow Canucks who were down there with me, both those being treated, and those accompanying those being treated, I will never find words to properly express my thanks.
Lastly, to my sister Rachel, and to my brother Olivier, I owe you two a debt of gratitude that I will never be able to repay. I could not have done it without both of you. And it’s not over yet – in the days ahead, I will likely be turning to you for further support.
I said at the beginning of all of this that it was going to be an effort where many small parts make up the whole. I keep adding more and more parts… now it’s time to find the whole.