Does Ruthie’s Brigade ring a bell? Sure it does! You are family, friends and faithful readers who’ve been my support network as I’ve done battle with various medical issues. A Brigadier suggested a column to update everyone on a couple of these ongoing battles. Here goes:

As you know, I have atrial fibrillation (AFib) and have been taking Eliquis for two years. My last EKG showed no change—my cardiologist and I were pleased.  

Shortly after the AFib diagnosis, further testing had indicated I had erythrocytosis, a blood disorder resulting in an increased number of red blood cells. Following closely on the heels of that diagnosis, pulmonary hypertension reared its ugly head: high blood pressure in the arteries that go from the heart to the lungs. This condition “is a life-threatening condition that gets worse over time, but treatments can help your symptoms so you can live better with the disease. It may take some planning, but plenty of people who have it find ways to do all the things they love, just as they did before they were diagnosed.” 

Sign Up for E-News

In the treatment of erythrocytosis, I had 10 phlebotomies in 2017 to try and bring the number down. This frequency caused concern among my doctors. The pulmonary specialist, after some research, prescribed nocturnal oxygen treatment, which began in December. 

All joking aside (“it sounds like a type of owl,” from sister, Roe), the reasoning behind this treatment was twofold: My oxygen level goes down at night and my heart works harder; hence, the pulmonary hypertension—the added oxygen would help ease its workload and relieve my precious heart!

The second reason: The specialist had indicated that the increased oxygen should bring down the red blood count, thereby eliminating the need for phlebotomies. When I see him next month, I will thank him profusely: Last week’s blood work showed that my red blood count is finally normal! After six months of oxygen therapy, no more phlebotomies and I’m breathing easier! Hallelujah!

Yes, an early Thanksgiving in June for me: Medical issues are currently under control and some fun events are coming down the pike this summer. May I add heartfelt thanks that my granddaughter, Kala, has safely returned from Asia (look for a future column on her four-year adventure) and grandson, Matt Jr., will be attending Fordham University Law School in the fall?  

We know how life can change in a heartbeat and we do the best we can when that happens. Dear Brigadiers, our thoughts and prayers are with and for each other. God bless you for your caring and support!