Kirk’s Story

Site created on July 7, 2020

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Journal entry by Lisa Carlson

Long time no post!  Which I have to say is a good thing at this point. 

Today was another long day spent at Mayo for another big check up. Can you believe all this happened TEN months ago already?!?  Some of those days seemed to have flown by and others seemed like an eternity.  But, even though today was long, today was a GREAT DAY!

Today Kirk had a CT Angio and an Echocardiogram to check out his heart and how his aortic dissection was behaving.  The Cardiologist said his heart looks great! The new aortic arch they placed is still holding well and the upper dissection has continued to seal itself off and looks better than they could have ever hoped for. The lower portion of the dissection unfortunately did increase a little more than they wanted.  Back in November, it had only grown 4mm from the time of his event, but since November to now it has increased another 8mm, which puts him at 43mm of separation.  They want to continue to watch it closely. The area where this dissection is happens to branch off to other vital areas and, if this should ever have to be fixed, she stated that this would be a “big deal” surgery. For now, it is good and according to the cardiologist this area SHOULDN’T ever have an unexpected bursting event.  She said she can’t say never but said we shouldn’t worry.  If the separation gets to be 55mm or over in size, then he will have to have it repaired. But for now they aren’t planning on doing that any day soon.  Thank goodness. 

SO, the goal is to try to lessen any additional expansion. That is done by controlling his BP even more.  When Kirk originally came home back in August his BP was continually in the 170/180s....they wanted it below 150. Over the months it has finally lowered and has leveled off in the 130/140s. Unfortunately, she is now considering this still to be too high given the affect it has had on his dissection.  And this means more BP medication until it gets into the low 120s.

Kirk was also told that he has to give up lifting altogether, even the 50lb limit they gave him before.  They think that may have slightly contributed to the increased separation.  That was not Kirk’s favorite news to hear of the day.  The Fellow the Cardiologist had working with her today said it was time to “just chill” and that “muscles do not do you any good when you are dead”.  I believe he has a point and, therefore, the kettlebell weights will be finding a new home with Eric.  It will be easier said than done for Kirk, as I am sure you all know that to “just chill” is not how Kirk works!  Our new fitness program will be trying to increase our nightly walks to 2 miles a night vs the 1.1 we currently walk.  Hopefully the weather starts getting better to make them more enjoyable.

KIRK’S FAVORITE NEWS OF THE DAY.:  They gave him the A.O.K. to actually physically go back into work!  Kirk has been waiting for that permission for a VERY LONG time. That made his day!  So starting next week Kirk will start heading back into the office for partial days to start and can’t wait to be back in there full-time.  I am sure he will be deeply depressed not spending all day at home with me 😆 And I am sure his co-workers will miss Bentley’s barking commentary and zoom checkins during meetings.  He will be heading back to campus just when Owen will be moving out of his dorm.  It is amazing to me that Owen is already finishing his freshman year at GAC!  And to add to that...Eric GRADUATES from GAC on May 13th with a Physics degree!  WooHoo! 🎉 Are we that old to have a college graduate?  🤔 That doesn’t seem possible.  I am just glad that Kirk is here to see it. ❤️

They want to see Kirk back in another 6 months. If the dissection is not progressing further, then they will switch Kirk to a yearly Mayo visit. If they are still seeing the dissection increase then they will continue to check in on him every 6 months. 

Overall, she was very impressed by how far Kirk has come since she saw him in the hospital and we keep hearing from every doctor Kirk sees how incredibly fortunate he is to be alive.  I know that all the love and prayers from all of you have kept him going. We can’t tell you all enough how blessed we are to have you all in our lives.  Now that we are both fully vaccinated, we can’t wait to see all of you and to tell each of you THANK YOU for all of your support over the past 10 months.  We have a big fire pit in our backyard and hope to see you all here sometime this summer for some great s’mores and conversation!

❤️ to you all...

Lisa & Kirk

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