It took a while to find my logbook. The last entry was on September 13, 2009. A little over an hour in the Cherokee Six, doing practice approaches with a buddy (and aspiring instrument instructor) as safety pilot. As I recall it was a rough afternoon, and it was good practice.
September 16 was the treadmill test. No flying after that one.
September 24 was the stent: The FAA says that I may reapply for a medical on March 24, 2010.
A stent is absurdly easy on the patient. One day, your life is hanging by a thread, and less than a week later you are out running. The only difficult part is the money. This was my second stent, too. After the first, I went right back to flying, working with a CFI candidate. He was always Pilot-in-Command, of course.
I didn't know that I had it so lucky. I am fully confident in my heart; the problem is my hands. A couple of Saturdays ago the soaring conditions looked promising (locals have been climbing to 18K in strong wave, and running 300K in strong ridge), and I was feeling up to doing the drive (it's hard to sit still for too long). But I woke up in the middle of the night with excruciating hand pain. "Oh no," I though, " I can't hold the stick and I'm too weak to pull the dive brakes." I didn't fly.
The week before had gone the same way. I had been suffering from extreme fatigue; I fell asleep at my desk every afternoon that week. And I had been taking narcotics for pain, although i stopped. The National Transportation safety Board [NTSB] report would have been very unfavorable:
"The pilot in command held an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate with multi-engine rating, and commercial privileges in single-engine landplanes and gliders. [So far, so good.] A recent major medical procedure had made his 14CFR67 second-class medical certificate invalid, but no medical certificate is required to be PIC of a glider. [Still nothing to get upset about.] PIC also suffered from an as-yet-undiagnosed condition. Pilot complained frequently of fatigue and inability to sleep at night, and family and friends remarked that they had found him asleep during the day several times. PIC also complained of loss of appetite, and had lost 10 pounds in the past month. PIC had been taking narcotics for pain."
The NTSB bureaucratese falls short of "What the blankety-blank-blank was the PIC doing trying to fly a glider?"
[It's not as bad as all that, but I'm sure that would be the NTSB's spin on the situation.]
Anyway, I'm seeing the rheumatologist again tomorrow, and am hoping for a definitive diagnosis and the beginning of treatment. The treatments are supposed to be well-tolerated with quick relief. Of course he'll have a definitive diagnosis: my insurance denied the claim for a $106 blood test. They'd only do that for something useful.
So please cross your fingers; I can barely cross mine.