Earlier this week, I went to pre-surgical testing for my upcoming knee replacement surgery. The last time I did this, back in May, I had a couple issues with the blood work, but was able to get them corrected before surgery. This time — and truthfully, any time I have lab work done — I mentally held my breath.

On the one hand, I am healthier than I have been since my early 20’s, and I am thankful for that every single day, so logically, the worst I expected was the possibility of a repeat performance; minor blood issues that are easily correctable.

On the other hand, I spent the vast majority of my adult life — more than thirty years — morbidly obese. I am sure the increased weight on my knees contributed to their decline and destruction, resulting in the need to replace my knees.

Why, Aorta!

I also have a little bitty part of my brain that reminds me that I may still have done a great deal of damage to my body, and something may crop up and some unforeseen moment. Honestly, while I firmly believe I have extended my life by making the continual choice to be healthier, I also worry that it’s a sliding scale; what adverse effects haven’t made themselves known, yet? I live a tiny bit in fear, waiting.

The physiologist who followed up on the lab work chatted me up until I laid down on the exam table, and he became concerned because — according to him — he could see my abdominal pulse through my sweater. He felt up and down my abdominal aorta, and even had me feel the pulse; it was strong, and it concerned him because it could mean I might have an aortic aneurysm.

That’s a pretty major thing, folks. I had a primary care doc several years back that died from one he didn’t know he had; he knew what was happening to him, but he couldn’t get to the hospital in time. If you know about them in advance, they can be dealt with, so if that was what I had, discovering it now would be a life saver, but would likely put off my total knee replacement. He referred me for an ultrasound, and I went directly over to the radiologist’s office as a walk-in.

While I told myself to remain calm, that he was just excluding the possibility, I also know that often means they’re more concerned then they let on. During the ultrasound, I was absolutely sure the technician was finding things, but she also explained that she was taking pictures from various angles. I thought about what I would do, how my life would change if I had to sub out one procedure for another.

One of my brothers had a heart attack ten years ago; it resulted in a stint and the advice that they wouldn’t be able to do knee surgery on him for at least a year. He still hasn’t had knee surgery, although I think it’s more by choice. I thought, today, that I might need to be thankful that the really bad knee had already been replaced.

With all of this floating through my mind, I knew I was just torturing myself with what if situations that likely wouldn’t happen, and I hoped that the doc would call quickly with the follow-up. He did. I was a matter of blocks away. His first comment was “Congratulations! Your aorta isn’t going to explode!”

Oh, dear. I laughed — and I was definitely relieved. Everything is fine. But I also wonder how long it will take me to firmly believe that I’m past the risks I invoked on my body while morbidly obese; maybe never.

This. This is the real reason I choose to keep to the straight and narrow. I firmly believe I might not be here, today, if I hadn’t taken steps over five years ago to commit to my own health and save my own life. I took that bridge and made it over troubled water.


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