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Adventures with heart failure
October 16, 2008 9:40 PM   Subscribe

Artist's notebook. "...But once we saw Dr. Kukin's office, complete with a photo of the winning touchdown at the Super Bowl, a photo of Babe Ruth, and various signed balls, we were put at ease. The message? Heart failure is like bank failure: Bailout is possible. Life goes on. Plus, he had a plastic heart that comes apart; I just love playing with those things."
posted by spish (12 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, that's really powerful, thanks for the post. I recently recovered from pneumonia and the first few "slides" are exactly how I felt before I went to the hospital. Makes me feel fortunate.
posted by amyms at 10:35 PM on October 16, 2008


Glad you're recovering amyms. :)

Loved this. Thanks for the post splish. If I could favorite it a few times I would.

The author/artist also has a readable and beautifully illustrated notebook of her surviving breast cancer.

On this page of her cancer notebook it says:
"Before chemo, I needed another test to see if my heart could handle the stress of the poison."

Chemo is so poisonous, I wonder if that precipitated the heart failure?

I really love Vicky Behm's writing and artwork, funny and poignant.

What a good point. Why would a doctor have HEART FAILURE Room 9D on the door?! Why not Heart Treatment? Heart Medicine? But heart failure? What are these doctors thinking? It seems so much of medicine is not geared around how the patient feels but procedures, quite narcissistically, it's about the doctors actions or the patients' failings, not about a getting-well process, which is worked on *mutually* by the doctor and the patient, who is not merely a lump of meat but an active participant in the process.

Another short visual journey through a major illness:
San Diego photographer Adriene Hughes, now 48, created a series of self-portraits chronicling her 2004 diagnosis with stage II estrogen-positive breast cancer and the treatment ordeal that followed.
[nsfw]

It's excellent, imo, that scary illnesses/near-death events like heart failure or cancer are being talked about, expressed artistically. I think this de-monsters dealing with the illness for the person working on surviving and maybe, maybe, those physicians, who are capable of empathy, will be inclined to understand a bit more of what it's like on the receiving end of treatment.
posted by nickyskye at 10:54 PM on October 16, 2008


*spish
posted by nickyskye at 11:37 PM on October 16, 2008


What a good point. Why would a doctor have HEART FAILURE Room 9D on the door?! Why not Heart Treatment? Heart Medicine? But heart failure? What are these doctors thinking?

I would have gone with HEART KITTENS.
posted by stavrogin at 6:35 AM on October 17, 2008


This woman needs an implantable cardioverter/defibrillator.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:16 AM on October 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I used to ride my bike to work everyday. That was until my Tachychardia Arrythmia screwed me up. My heart was beating so fast one day that they had to stop it and restart it without a
defibrillator. They found out that I had a strange node on my hearth valve and removed it with a laser. My heart was also very enlarged at the time but somehow had shrunk back to a normal size. Now my heart beats at a normal pace and I don't feel like I'm having a major panic attack.
posted by doctorschlock at 8:37 AM on October 17, 2008


Wow. This reminds me a lot of Lorrie Moore's "People Like That Are the Only People Here" which is a very good thing.
posted by The Whelk at 9:04 AM on October 17, 2008


I'm reminded of the fact that at work, Journal of Cardiac Failure is immediately followed in the catalog by Journal of Cardiac Rehabilitation.
posted by sperose at 10:22 AM on October 17, 2008


I would have gone with HEART KITTENS.

Ah, you must be thinking of the Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Dr. C. M. Kitten, who, according to patient reviews say he is not merely a technician but also considerate.
posted by nickyskye at 11:30 AM on October 17, 2008


I hate bringing up My Heart Failure of 2002-2003, but my most vivid memory is having One of the Highest Rated Cardiologists in Burbank baffled in my lack of arterial blockage. He'd had me sign releases so he could go in and do an angioplasty immediately after an angioscope but saw no reason to. The best doctors and hospital of Burbank (whose services were lost to me when I lost my insurance soon after) remain clueless, with my ongoing survival (at varying reduced levels of energy and endurance) meaning either it wasn't all that serious or I'm living on borrowed time and dumb luck. (Later in 2003, it got REAL complicated, with psychological depression added to the mix but which did earn my Disability designation much faster than anyone I know and get me some Medicare-funded doctors who aren't quite calling it Heart Failure even when I'm at my weakest; as long as I'm minimally functional, I don't mind the Medical Mystery status)

The Heart knows what the Heart knows. Modern Medicine, not so much.
posted by wendell at 1:10 PM on October 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


my most vivid memory is having One of the Highest Rated Cardiologists in Burbank baffled in my lack of arterial blockage.

Heart failure can come from causes other than atherosclerotic ischemia, and the HRCinB should know that and not be "baffled". Viruses, for example, can cause myocarditis leading to CHF, as can valvular disease, hypertension, and electrocardiographic conduction disorders (like doctorschlock's).
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:53 PM on October 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


normally I wouldn't post something like this, but this 'felt' different to me. not the normal "this is how i'm dealing/dealt with a bad thing'. i found it very uplifting. glad you enjoyed it.
posted by spish at 4:17 PM on October 17, 2008


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