From Jim Gilliam's blog archives
My heart is too big

August 17, 2005 10:06 PM

Last week, described two problems, radiation fibrosis, and some other unknown thing. Now there is an additional problem -- cardiomyopathy -- a condition where the heart is enlarged and doesn't eject blood that way it's supposed to. A normal heart pumps out 55% of the blood, my heart only does 40%.

I'm being referred to a cardiologist for this one, and will set up an appointment tomorrow. My pulmonary doc said this is treatable, and mentioned an afterload reducing agent as a possibility. There are several kinds of cardiomyopathy, and based on what I've read, I think it's dilated (congestive) or DCM, but I need to ask that specifically. DCM is not curable, but there's a decent chance I can improve with some treatment.

I do not have idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Radiation fibrosis looks a lot different on the x-ray.

I am to meet with my pulmonary doc on Monday to discuss the lung biopsy. He's not confident that it will help him figure out what the third (unknown) problem is, but is almost positive he wants to do it. He described what he's seeing as a lot of "dead space" -- areas of my lungs that aren't working to get carbon dioxide out or oxygen in.

What I've read on cardiomyopathy says that alcohol is a bad thing. I don't drink much, but I'm going to lay off entirely for now.

More from the archive in Me, My Health.

My heart is too big (08.17.2005)

Next Entry: Minimum health care -- just like the minimum wage (08.18.2005)
Previous Entry: Julia Sweeney on life after God (08.17.2005)

Read the 7 comments.

Dave E.: any of this good news?

I have no idea of the weight behind most of what you said, but it reads like it's not bad news at all. Borderline positive, even.


Thu Aug 18 2005 12:55 AM

Jim Gilliam:

I'm not really sure, I guess. Still processing it, and don't really know all that much without having seen the cardiologist myself.

My initial reaction is that it's yet another thing wrong. I wasn't expecting there to be anything wrong with my heart, just my lungs. But of course they are very connected and related parts of the body.

In reading about cardiomyopathy, it seems that it could be a result of some kind of strange viral infection going on, and maybe that is what this mysterious 3rd thing is? I've had pneumonia twice in recent years ... both infections that got really bad. I'm just speculating. This is one of those days where I feel like I got more data, but actually know less.

Thu Aug 18 2005 4:27 AM


Jiiim.. Here's more good thoughts your way. Its tough enough to diagnose issues outside of oneself and end up in these positions but to continue self troubleshooting and finding more at err, jeebus.

Here's to clarity in the upcoming trials.


Thu Aug 18 2005 8:09 AM


Thanks for the status report, Jim. I share your frustration at not being able to understand what is going on. Please keep us updated.

Thu Aug 18 2005 7:59 PM


Hi, Jim,
Just wanted to send you a few cyberhugs.

Fri Aug 19 2005 3:21 AM


Indeed.. Thanks for the status report & please keep us updated.

Fri Aug 19 2005 11:39 AM

tommy guilbeau:

I am a friend of Maggie's and a fan of your work.Very sorry to hear about your health problems.Please know that you are being sent every morning and every night positive affirmations from me here in Lafayette,La.
"Lache pas la Patate"
Tommy Guilbeau

Tue Aug 23 2005 11:24 PM

Jim Gilliam
Jim Gilliam


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