Jump Forward by Jumping Backward

So, I told you about this “thing.” This AVM thing, this strange blood vessel thing. This thing that I had to go to Mayo Clinic to get taken care of because no one around West Michigan knew what it was. Let that sink in for a second……

You’re in 8th grade.

You live near the second largest hospital in the state of Michigan.

And.

They.

Don’t.

Know.

What’s.

Wrong.

With.

Me.

I honestly don’t think, for many years, that I ever really came to grips with the emotional toll that this blood vessel “problem” took on me. But we’ll talk about that more later.

Now I want to jump from 1978 to 1986. Once again, we had reached the tipping point where doing nothing (meaning just watching things) was more risky than actually treating it. And guess what, the doctors in West Michigan said, “It’s different this time.”

Word of warning – if anyone ever says, “it’s different this time,” be afraid.

Be very afraid.

They mapped out a plan where they were going to go in and basically plug up some of these extra blood vessels – a little at a time – over the course of 6 sessions – one per month. Now mind you, when they plug up these little blood vessels, sometimes they are blood vessels that really don’t go anywhere so it’s sort of like putting a road block at the end of a cul-de-sac. So what?

Some of them do go somewhere and when you cut off blood flow to muscles, well, Mr. Muscle ain’t very happy.

Let’s just say that there’s more than one reason I can’t hit a golf ball nearly as far now as I did back before 1986. Each of those 6 sessions was very painful.

But there were two that were special. There’s one where, if I hadn’t been able to hear the doctors shouting at me, I would have thought I was going to die. Honestly. Here’s what happened. The way that they did these sessions was by going up through an artery in my leg and going all the way up to my neck. Well, something happened and normally they would put a small drop of a local anesthetic in before the “super glue” to make it a little less painful. Well, there was a drop of it that had a mind of its own. And that mind of its own wanted to go on a tour of my mind. Suddenly, my world was turning bright green and it sounded like a freight train was running right through the middle of my head. Yeah, probably one of the scariest situations I’ve ever been in. I don’t know whether it was 10 seconds or a minute or how long but it calmed back down and I was fine – but I was extremely exhausted for the next couple of weeks.

I don’t remember if it was the next one or the one after that, but we were back for another session and we had another problem. They would use coils/springs to help the super glue plug up the blood vessels. One of those springs got stuck halfway in and half way out of the tube they were using to insert it. It was stuck.

So rather than a “yucky” outpatient procedure, I ended up with major inpatient surgery and they had to essentially go chasing that coil more than halfway down my leg. Not a good thing. When I went in, I expected it would be a couple of days off, I ended up with 3 weeks off and totally wiped out from it. Not what I had planned at all.

After some hard discussions with the doctors here and doctors in other places around the country, we ended up flying to San Diego to spend some time with Dr. Charles Kerber. He finished up what the doctors here in West Michigan started.

Now I will be the first to admit that I am carrying too many pounds around, 20 years in the banking world and 5 kids don’t help a stress eating habit, but when this whole process was done, I weighed over 100 lbs less than I do now.

I need to lose weight. But not that much weight.

But we finished this up shortly before March 24, 1987. What’s so special about that date? That’s the date that I became a dad.

I’ll probably say more about that later.

For now I’ll just say that being a dad has been a blessing, a challenge and everything in between. I am proud of all 5 of my kids and the unique individuals they are. I love them all dearly.

TJV

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