Friday, April 20, 2007


AAA usually brings to mind the folks who come when you have car trouble on a trip or when you are planning a trip. However, it does have at least one other meaning as I recently found out. It also stands for abdominal aortic aneurysm. If you really want to know the medical details then google it, my point here is that I just went through what my vascular surgeon called the most serious surgery second only to open heart. I spent five days in ICU and am home now recovering rather well.

One of the real problems while in ICU was getting my psych meds. I had covered this with the doctors before surgery, but that did not seem to matter. I had a tube down my nose into my stomach and resident said there wasn't anyway to give them to me. There was more than one doctor standing there at the time. My wife was by my bed just as she had been most of the time. I looked at the resident and said "You had better think long and hard about just how long you want to keep me off my meds." It was not too long before I had my pills and the task of taking them and swallowing them down beside the tube. Why was I so concerned about the meds? Because I did not want to start an upward movement into mania just after having 50 staples put in my belly. I am bipolar. I had a good vascular surgeon, but he was a poor psychiatrist.

We found out about the AAA before Christmas and my surgery was March 28, 2007. That was a long wait. Hard on my wife just like my bipolar illness has been. I have written before that mental illness is harder on the folks who love us than it is on us. I believe being in the surgical waiting room may be harder than being on the table.

If there was ever a time one needed to be embraced by people of faith it was the weeks leading up to this surgery. I did not trust my mind to hold up under the addtional stress. Would they still do the surgery if I was not mentally well? I needed all the spiritual strength I could find and so did my wife. This is the reason those of us who have a mental illness need to be embraced by a faith community. We face the same big problems of life that the rest of you do.

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