As FitOldDog (aka FatOldDog) Faces His Second Aortic Surgery He Reflects Briefly On The Nature Of His Disease, And Raynaud’s Syndrome Too!

Wonderful Paleo snack, lettuce in place of crackers, with melted Brie - BUT IS IT THE RIGHT FOOD FOR PEOPLE WITH CONNECTIVE TISSUE DISORDERS?

Wonderful Paleo snack, lettuce in place of crackers, with melted Brie – BUT IS IT THE RIGHT FOOD FOR PEOPLE WITH CONNECTIVE TISSUE DISORDERS?

se·man·tics, noun

“The branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning. There are a number of branches and subbranches of semantics, including formal semantics, which studies the logical aspects of meaning, such as sense, reference, implication, and logical form, lexical semantics, which studies word meanings and word relations, and conceptual semantics, which studies the cognitive structure of meaning.”

dis·ease, noun

“A disorder of structure or function in a human, animal, or plant, esp. one that produces specific signs or symptoms or that affects a specific location and is not simply a direct result of physical injury.” from Google.

pa·thol·o·gy, noun

“The science of the causes and effects of diseases, esp. the branch of medicine that deals with the laboratory examination of samples of body tissue for diagnostic or forensic purposes.” from Google.

Hi folks, welcome to my random, and not so random, thoughts!

FitOldDog expresses a mild form of Raynaud's syndrome/disease/symptom in response to mild or brief cold exposure.

FitOldDog expresses a mild form of Raynaud’s syndrome/disease/symptom in response to mild or brief cold exposure. White finger tip, flushed elsewhere.

During a conversation with one of my surgeons the other day, he said, in relation to the slight expansion of my abdominal aortic aneurysm into the left common iliac artery, “Kevin, your aortic aneurysm is a disease.” As a pathologist, who respects this surgeon a great deal, I beg to differ. My aortic aneurysm is a symptom of an underlying disease, and this disease is almost certainly a genetic connective tissue disorder (or genetic phenotype?), which under certain environmental conditions expresses itself as one aspect of my anatomical phenotype, an abdominal aortic aneurysm. This genetic ‘disease (situation?)’ is almost certainly responsible for another symptom I exhibit, diverticulosis, and it is probably linked to my severe hyperlipidemia, but what about FitOldDog’s Raynaud’s Syndrome?

The pathology plot thickens, which is where cures are found, and critical, potentially therapeutic, environmental variables, such as diet, detected.

Deb sitting by our nice warm fire, thawing out after camping at sub-freezing temperatures in Asheville, NC, USA - Deb's sleeping bag kept her nice and warm!

Deb sitting by our nice warm fire, thawing out after camping at sub-freezing temperatures in Asheville, NC, USA – Deb’s sleeping bag kept her nice and warm during the night!

The study of Semantics, and more specifically Lexical Semantics, is critical for a full understanding of the body of literature known as pathobiology, the study of diseases of biological systems. Why so? Because the confusion of a symptom with a disease will lead to misdirection of research efforts around one symptom, instead of integrating knowledge of all the symptoms into an effective attack on the understanding of the mechanism common to all. It is pretty easy to logically link diverticulosis, out-pouching of the large bowel, with aortic aneurysm, out-pouching of the aorta – both represent a breakdown in mechanics of the wall of a hollow viscus.

I have expressed mild symptoms of Raynaud’s disease for about 15 years, with exposure to cold inducing white patches on my hands and feet, with adjacent areas being bright red – this is an abnormal, and sometimes painful, vascular response to the cold.

FitOldDog experiences severe symptoms of Raynaud's disease, which can be extremely dangerous, SO BEWARE!

FitOldDog experiences severe symptoms of Raynaud’s disease, marked swelling (edema) of the back of my hand, which can be extremely dangerous, SO BEWARE, RAYNAUD’S SUFFERERS!

However, I recently experienced more severe symptoms whilst camping at 32°F with a sleeping bag that was too thin, causing severe chilling during the night, followed by exposure of my hands to very cold temperatures as I made my morning tea. This time my right hand suffered severe swelling and pain, that lasted for several days. So beware fellow sufferers of Raynaud’s disease (symptoms), it can be quite dangerous under such conditions. Forewarned is forearmed, and I know how to arm myself (better sleeping bag, chemical hand and foot warmers available, wear gloves when making tea).

But Raynaud’s syndrome has also been associated with certain connective tissues disorders. Is there a common genetic denominator, or is it unrelated to my other symptoms?

By the way, it is turning out that many adverse genetic ‘disorders’ have some survival advantages under certain environmental conditions. For instance, cystic fibrosis in the case of resistance to cholera, and sickle cell anemia with respect to malaria.

So! If you have a pain in the ass disease, don’t feel bad about yourself. Feel special!

-k @FitOldDog



  1. Feel special regardless! I think you are onto something FOD, vascular issues. Any family history of same things? Yes, consider diet. Check out . Food is our medicine. And check out the medical librarian here: She loves to dig up science. Somewhere once she had something about ‘endothelial health’. I’m off to swim today. Work out my shoulder.

    • Remember to gently throw your arms forward during recovery for freestyle, with loose shoulders but take care not to strain the rotator cuff muscles. Loose shoulders is the second most important aspect of swimming, the first is balance. Happy Laps! -kevin

      • I always warm up for awhile doing breast stroke, kicking laps with a paddle thingie. The shoulder joint is the most flexible joint in the body, until it ‘ceases up’. haha. It’s much better. We’ll see what happens. I think the ‘pain in the ass’ disease I have is ‘aging’, plus a family history of colon cancer but I’m already tackling that one, happily sacrificed 1/3rd the colon to it, and eating quite healthy for it.

        • Is aging a disease? I think not! It is a critical aspect of life on the larger, non-personal scale. There is no life without death, and our bodies are sculpted by death (apoptosis). We all have something, TODAY!!!! Love, Kevin

          • You’re right; it’s not a ‘disease’. It’s the accompanying constraints that annoy me. I’m still trying to accept the changes. I get that we die and that’s a normal, natural process. I am OK with that. Just the trip getting there ‘gets in my way’. Off to swim. Have a great day.

  2. Kevin, As you know I am a AAA surviver also. I was also diagnosed with Raynaud’s about 5 years ago. I agree, I have learned to dress accordingly in our Michigan winter weather.
    Thankful to be alive.

    • Interesting coincidence. If they are causally linked, all people with Raynaud’s should be encouraged to have regular AortaScans, just in case!!! Thanks for the info, and I’m glad we’re both up and kicking. How’s the dog? Mine are sitting right here, and I couldn’t imagine life without them. Kind Regards, Kevin

  3. With all your diseases it sounds as if you are “going to the dogs”!

  4. One disease, many symptoms, I like dogs. -k

  5. I wouldn’t call AAA a disease either; it seems more like a mechanical failure to me, like you said – a mechanical failure due to some malfunction in your body.

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.