Thursday, October 13, 2011

Blog 6 The Love Chunnel

10/13/2011 12:00 AM

I’ve been putting this blog off for a few days as I’m not entirely sure I’m going to correctly lay out all of the data, and it’s sort of all-around difficult to talk about. I’ll do my best to employ an uneasy sarcasm to alleviate whatever Shia-Lebouf-like awkwardness you’ll have while reading this. He’s never actually played a character before, have you noticed that? Dude just shows up to set and Lebouf’s up the joint until somebody yells cut.

Yes, I’m stalling.

I went to my Neurologist the other day, and after a lengthy discussion about both, the early-career brilliance of Michael Mann, and Airwolf, he decided to start dropping some knowledge on me. While in the hospital the diagnosis—es…s were all over the place. Little did I know he was collecting all of the data in the background so that he could make a firm commitment on what was wrong with me. So, allow me to pass the dutch:

I have a PFO, or a Patent Foramen Ovale, which is not an uncommon disorder to have in any random adult you might pass on the street. Essentially, there is a tunnel (actually, let’s call it a chunnel. It’s under the surface) between the two atriums of your heart and typical PFO’s allow travel from left to right (as the left atrium is higher pressure.) Though rare, some PFO’s can travel right to left, and this can lead to complications when other factors are present.

My understanding is my situation is quite rare.

The mixture of factors makes it incredibly difficult to pin down exactly what is happening and which symptoms are responsible for other symptoms. As I’ve been talking about, I have the complexicated migraine situation going on that throws symptoms on top of other symptoms. It’s the fourteenth day I’ve not had sight in my right eye or feeling on the left side of my body. So we don’t know which symptoms are permanent and which will subside when world’s longest migraine subsides (I feel fine by the way, I’m on medication that suppresses the blinding pain of said migraine and allows me to go about my day as a normal gimpy dork.) We’re confident the sight will come back, but the issues with my arm and leg I think are a grayer area—as a result of the stroke.

With a complex migraine at the point of that stroke, it’s sorta like the longest stroke ever. Yeah, I don’t do anything half-assed.

Switching gears to the treatment of a PFO, which generally aren’t treated at all unless they are causing complications, and for the time being lets refer to both complex migraines and strokes as “complications.” This is where it gets pretty awesome.

I am terrified of getting open-heart surgery. This has not been a fantastic year for my luck and health coming together in a meaningful way. This was my fear in finally getting a diagnosis, that I would have to lay down on a table and yell, “don’t touch the sides!” Luckily, it has not come to that.

The actual procedure in closing a PFO is to snake a tool up through my artery up into the atrium of my heart. From there, the Cardiologist opens one or two “umbrellas” into the love chunnel to stop the errant blood flow from any continued passing of blood clots to stuff like brains or whatever. I’ve included a video to better describe this process in detail:

I have not yet scheduled a time for this procedure, but I am pretty scared by the thought of a surgeon going Black Hawk Down on my artery. When I get scared, I tend to hide behind silly humor, and in this case, hiding behind a nonsensical reference to a Ridley Scott movie.

I’ll be real for a moment.

My friends, family, and a flurry of Gearbox fans on the internet has been incredibly forthcoming with the sharing of thoughts and prayers during my ordeal. If you wouldn’t mind extending those through the end of this procedure, that would be greatly appreciated. I’ll be honest, it’s scary. But I thank every one of you for being with me through this, and with entertaining my meandering exploration of words I call a blog.

I feel like I should sign this entry out with some uplifting quote that exemplifies the life I choose to live, like “Carpe Diem” or something by Ghandi. But I think I’ll go with something from the wise Gordon Bombay.

“You may make it. You may not. But that doesn't matter, Charlie. What matters is that we're here. Look around. Who ever thought we'd make it this far. 1-2-3 triple deke. Take your best shot. I believe in you, Charlie. Win or lose.”

Quack, quack, quack kiddos.


  1. Soon you'll be able to say, "Of course! The umbrella was inside me this whole time!"

    Stay strong, dude. Thanks for the update.

  2. Love you, man. You betcha we're with you the whole way.

    Let me know how I can help!!

  3. All this bad stuff couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Well, as far as I know. You've always been nice to me on the internet, but maybe in person you're a huge jerk.

    Still, though, even jerks don't deserve holes in their hearts, so I'm pulling for you regardless.

  4. You know what they say: "That which does not kill us, was probably just a hole somebody drilled into your atrial wall."

  5. I have known you your entire life Mikey, you are the nephew beyond nephews, you keep life interesting . There is a lot to be said about a person in the way they handle adversity especially physical adversity. There are those that run and high and refuse to admit they have a problem (they live in a constant state of denial) I'm sure at some point you wanted to run, especially after who knows how many tubes of blood are drained from you and you enter the tunnel for your 5th MRI! Your personality as quirky as it is (that's a Neumann trait by the way!) you handle it with humor and then to be insightful. While we cannot always understand what God has planned for our lives, we know that we should live it to the best of our potential in even the not so fun times. I think this whole ordeal is your next novel, a mystery filled with pirates, deloreans, umbrellas, vampires and more baffled medical personnel than en episode of House. You do not make this journey alone you have family and friends that pray for you along the way. Praying for a full recovery.