When I last posted about my late June episode of temporary amnesia (Part 6 of Dan Loses His Mind as His World is Shaken, Rattled, and Rolled), I concluded that blog with my appointment with Dr. Maslinski, a local neurologist. Click here for the link to that blog.
A simple 2017 Holter Monitor
At that July 5 appointment, the good doctor wanted me to wear a Holter monitor for 48 hours to check out the electrical activity of my heart (EKG); basically to see if my episode was a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) that caused my symptoms. To lay folk, a TIA is often thought of as a benign mini-stroke.
A TIA is a temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain that doesn’t cause permanent damage. That said, ignoring it can be a big mistake since a TIA may signal that a full-blown stroke is coming down the pike.
One pale dude who knows no shame sporting a Holter Monitor on his right hip
July 24 is Holter Monitor Installation Day. At the cardiac unit of York (Maine) Hospital, a cardiologist technician attaches five electrodes to my chest, each with a wire to the Holter Monitor; a device that is no more than 1.5” x 2.5” that fits neatly in a plastic holster on my waist. Installed in less than ten minutes, the monitor has one non-negotiable – no showers for the next 48 hours.
During the day, whether playing pickleball, working out at the gym, playing ping pong, or chilling at home, the monitor is so non-obtrusive that I don’t even know it’s there.
Nighttime? Sleep is not restful as I reposition the monitor as I inevitably move in bed. Even so, the Holter monitor is a minor inconvenience over two days.
Eight days later on August 4, I have my second appointment with Dr. Maslinski to go over the results of the electrocardiogram (EKG) from the Holter monitor.
As when meeting with medical professionals, I come with my hopes and my unwarranted expectations.
Hope #1 – The Holter Monitor will identify whether I had a TIA. The EKG indicated that my heart is basically normal, one any 69-year-old would be proud to call his own. What happened to me was not likely a TIA. Still, I am on baby aspirin for the foreseeable future since something heart-related can’t be ruled out.
Hope #2 – The neurologist would have an idea what did happen. He does. He thinks it’s a TGA. Transient Global Amnesia is a sudden, temporary episode when recall of recent events simply vanishes. Although a TGA isn’t harmful, there’s no easy way to distinguish the condition from the life-threatening illnesses that can also cause sudden memory loss.
Hope #3 – He will know why it happened to me specifically. No dice. While there is a name for what happened, why it happened remains a mystery, as it did 15 years ago during my first such episode. He is leaning toward something epileptic (hence putting me on the anti-seizure medication Keppra).
Hope #4 – I’d be able to stop taking the twice daily Keppra medication (for seizures) that I’ve been on for the last month. That’s not happening any time soon. Since I had a previous incident, albeit fifteen years ago, he cannot rule out that a seizure is at play. Hence, Keppra for the coming year. That we don’t have to meet til late next June suggests to me that the doctor is not overly concerned about my condition. I put that in the plus column.
Hope #5 – I’ll be able to drive three months after the episode! And that I will be able to do, if I have no repeat episodes. And another incident, in my mind, is not likely as I am on anti-seizure Keppra; and it’s been 15 years since my last episode. He did say that he did not inform the Department of Motor Vehicles of my status because he believed I would follow the law. It’s not tough sizing me up as a first child, rule-follower. He did say, he does inform DMV if someone presents as “non-compliant.”
Many people wonder if not driving is a big deal. It hasn’t been. Largely due to Hannah’s sweetness and that we are retired. She and I balance our schedules and make trips happen without too much grief.
To me, Dr. Maslinski’s caution seems reasonable, especially considering this being my second episode.
Could dehydration have triggered this event?
Fact #1 – Without fail for the 2+ months since my episode, I continue daily to drink my 40 ounces of water throughout the morning.
Fact #2 – I have not had a repeat episode.
Fact #3 – Two plus two is four.
Fact #4 – I am not sure I really understand syllogisms any better now than I did when I barely earned a C in a Logic course at the College of Wooster.
Fact #5 – No doctor has suggested a connection between dehydration and a TGA.
So, what does something like this cost in 2017? I had no idea a CAT Scan costs $1,053; an echocardiogram sets one back $1,454; an MRI goes for a cool $2,069; the charge for a carotid artery test is $652; an electroencephalography (EEG) is a mere $561.
In my six pages of detailed charges from York Hospital, I can’t find the cost of my hospital room for the night. But considering that to date, the total charges are $12,822.93, my overnight stay couldn’t have been cheap.
I am a fortunate dude.