Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Medical Certificate (or lack thereof)

My FAA medical is a "Special Issuance" due to my history of heart problems. The FAA makes me get a treadmill test every year in order to keep it. That was Wednesday. It was a disaster! As you might imagine, I have studied cardiology as intensively as I study flying, so I was watching the EKG tracings on the screen and saw them getting worse and worse. I had the PA doing the test check my blood pressure, which was starting to go down, not up. We stopped the test, by mutual agreement, before I was even breathing hard. The EKG got even worse during the "recovery."

I met with my cardiologist this afternoon to go over the results, and we scheduled a catheterization (angiogram) for Thursday morning with the area's best-regarded interventionist. If he says "stent?" I'll say "yes, please."

Angiograms can be dangerous but this is my fifth.

This ain't my first rodeo, so I know I can handle six months of restricting my flying to doing checkouts and BFRs with rated/current pilots, and staying current myself with a safety pilot. Medical or no, I won't feel like a real pilot unless I am instrument and night current! I'll do some glider flying when I'm sure that I am safe.

Facing my mortality justifies being a little philosophical. I've had this disease for 12 years. I should have died then. Instead, I've watched my twins grow up, completed two triathlons, flown dozens of single-pilot air ambulance flights in King Airs and a Cessna 414, made lots of friends, taken friends and family and customers on flying adventures, taught some things both to flying and to university students, directed a doctoral dissertation, written some good mathematical papers, impressed the instructors at Flight Safety, written a book, biked hundreds of miles, traveled in Europe and Asia, cooked some great meals and enjoyed those cooked by others, and generally made the most of every day.

I suggest that you all do the same.



At September 23, 2009 at 5:15 AM , Blogger Frank Van Haste said...

Dear Doc:

Just maybe, the FAA's insistence on an annual stress test saved your life! (Not sayin' you wouldn't have done one anyway...)

I wish you Godspeed, sir. Good luck, fly when you can, and keep us apprised of your progress.



At September 23, 2009 at 9:45 AM , Blogger John Ewing said...

I'm sorry to hear your treadmill test turned out the way it did and I wish you the best regarding the angiogram and stent procedure (if it comes to that).

I admire your positive approach to your situation. Having been without a medical myself for nearly a year, I too have worked hard to keep a positive attitude. But it ain't easy! In point of fact, it can often challenge you in subtle ways that anyone who hasn't lost their medical can't really appreciate.

Ironic that just as I'm on the cusp of getting my medical back, another pilot loses theirs. Know that your readers wish you the best and look forward to reading soon about your recovery.

At September 25, 2009 at 9:03 AM , Blogger Sarah said...

I'm sorry to hear about your (hopefully) temporary loss of a medical. It sounds like you have a great perspective on life generally though, and heck, there's always gliding. Hang in there.


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