Sunday, December 14, 2014

I THINK I CAN. I THINK I CAN. I THINK I CAN.



It's been two years and ten months since I had open-heart surgery and I still haven't reached my goal of running one mile up our mountain road. Breathing problems, sleep apnea  and recently diagnosed asthma are my road blocks this time. It pisses me off to think my "Rocky Moment" is unattainable. Even walking is a challenge now. On rare good days I can walk almost two-tenths of a mile, huffing and puffing the whole way. Sometimes I take my goat along so she can pull me up the incline. I hate to wimp out and  redefine my goal. I had high hopes and I worked hard, but at this point, rather than throwing in the towel, I'll declare my "Rocky Moment" after I WALK one mile up the mountain road. Surely with time and persistent baby steps, I can do it. My regression has been discouraging. One and a half years ago, after my broken ankle healed, I could walk two and one-quarter miles. I know I can do it again. It is my new promise to myself. OK, Rocky, look out, I'm a comin', not running, but walking with determination. 


Once again, Walter Wintle's poem comes to mind.  
If you think you are beaten, you are,
If you think you dare not, you don't,
If you like to win, but you think you can't,
It's almost a "cinch" you won't.
If you think you'll lose, you've lost,
For out in the world you find
Success begins with a fellow's will;
It's all in the state of mind.

Full many a race is lost
Ere ever a step is run;
And many a coward fails
Ere ever his work's begun.
Think big and your deeds will grow,
Think small and you'll fall behind,
Think that you can and you will;
It's all in the state of mind.

If you think you're outclassed, you are,
You've got to think high to rise,
You've got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.
Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster man,
But sooner or later, the man who wins,
Is the fellow who thinks he can.


Meds:   Amiodarone, Cardizem,  Vayacog, Paxil, Pradaxa, Symbicort, Proair, Montelukcast, Ipratropium Bromide, Fluticasone, Nexium, Claritin, Cpap machine, I-Caps, Vitamins D3  and B-12, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, Glucosoamine, Omega-3 Fish Oil, Vitamin C, Phytoestrogen   

Friday, February 21, 2014

Two Year Anniversary


 It's been exactly two years since I had open-heart surgery. The road to recovery was long and hard, but thanks to determination and great medical care I claimed victory. I'm still taking heart meds, much to my dislike. I'll need to wear a heart monitor 24/7 during the month of April to determine if I can discontinue the medication. The following was posted on 2/20/12, the night before surgery which fell on Mardi Gras day. I was trying to hide my fears. My expected seven-day hospital stay stretched to eighteen due to complications.

Twenty-two years after leaving New Orleans some things still stick, so me and my Mardi Gras beads will head to the hospital at 4:30 tomorrow, Mardi Gras morning, but there will be no parades and debauchery for me.This is my last post before they cut open my heart. If I do have extra time before I walk out the door in the morning, I will use it to stand in front of a mirror to admire my d├ęcolletage because it will never look the same again. I'm hoping the doctor can make the scar look like cleavage. I want to cry. I so want to cry. Really, someone should tell me to put on my big girl panties and stop whining about this when there are far worse things. Some people lose limbs.Women lose their breasts. Some people completely lose their minds and never find them again. I need to gain some perspective on this whole thing. Well anyway, this is my last post for quite some time. Actually if I don’t make it through this surgery, this will be my last post forever, like finished, done, gone. In that case, you will never hear from me again. I expect to be hospitalized for a week, with my first couple of days in the limbo land of Intensive Care. I won't take my computer so you'll be left wondering for about seven days if I'm coming back or not. I hate to leave you hanging, but of course, a little tension is always good for a story. That's about as accommodating as I can be. 

Meds:   Amiodarone, Cardizem,  Vayacog, Paxil, Pradaxa, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, B-12, Glucosoamine, Calcium, Garlic,Omega-3 Fish Oil, Vitamin C, Black Cohosh  


Saturday, November 23, 2013

DAYS 549-638 RECOVERY



After my heart was monitored for thirty days last month, the cardiologist determined that I now have intermittent atrial fibrillation. This is not the news I wanted to hear. It came as a shock. I was convinced the escalating irregular beats that my blood pressure reader detected were due to a malfunction of the machine which also reads heart rate and rhythm. Yes, the blood pressure machine was in error, but the reality is that some of the episodes were real. It alarmed the doctor that I could no longer feel that I was in AFib.

Just when I expected to hear it was safe to discontinue the heart medication, I was told I need to increase the dose. I also need to replace the daily full-strength aspirin with a prescription med that better prevents blood clotting. While these meds may save my heart, they put my other organs at risk. I tend to feel that many physicians are pimps for the pharmaceutical companies. However, when you think about it, after lifestyle changes are recommended and natural therapies are tried, and only a few doctors consider those, what can they do other than prescribe meds or cut?

I was in quite a dilemma. I had to choose how I might die. Not taking the meds puts my heart at risk. Taking them can damage my liver, kidneys, thyroid or lungs. Many other side effects are possible. A few are hair loss, depression, vision damage, sun sensitivity, swelling, and uncontrollable bleeding. I bought the meds but couldn't bring myself to take them. Several weeks passed before my cardiologist contacted me early this week. He explained the seriousness of my situation. All the while I'm thinking,Yeah, you’re a heart doc, of course you want to protect my heart.Surely a pulmonologist would vote in favor of saving my lungs, an internist my kidneys, and so on. He emphasized my risks due to family history, previous heart attack and value problems, age, high blood pressure and two blood-clotting disorders. He stated that he doesn't prescribe medication lightly. Then he got me when he told me there are ways to fix lungs, kidneys, etc, but there are no ways to fix my highest risk, a stroke. He asked me how I felt about spending my life in a nursing home. I started the meds that night. 


Meds:   Amiodarone, Cardizem,  Vayacog, Paxil, Pradaxa, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, B-12, , Glucosoamine, Calcium, Garlic,Omega-3 Fish Oil, Vitamin C, Black Cohosh 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

DAYS 546-548 RECOVERY


A couple of weeks ago my heart began showing occasional irregular beats.  My ignore-it-and-maybe-it-will-go-away approach hasn't worked, so today I checked in with my cardiologist in Spartanburg SC for an EKG and some blood work.  They outfitted me with a heart monitor to be worn 24/7 for 30 days.  I'm all wired up and lugging around a pocket monitor that's way too big for any of my pockets. I must admit, I'm kind of worried about my misbehavin' achy breaky heart.  If it goes back into atrial fibrillation (A-Fib), there's little that can be done because the docs already used the "big guns" last year when I had open heart surgery to repair the mitral valve and a Cox Maize III ablation to curtail the A-Fib. I'd like my heart more if it would stay in sync and stop marching to an off-beat drummer.  

Meds:   Amiodarone, Cardizem,  Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, B-12, L-Arginine, Glucosoamine, Garlic, Aspirin, Omega-3 Fish Oil, Vitamin C

Monday, September 2, 2013

DAYS 510 - 545 RECOVERY

I'm making progress slowly, but surely.  On the days when I can get to the track, I manage a combination of walking and running, or perhaps I should call it jogging, for 2 1/4 miles. I hesitate to call it running since I'm sure a serious runner would laugh at my efforts.  Even on a flat plane the jogging and running takes much effort.  My endurance, while still pathetic, shows some improvement each time.  With autumn approaching, the lower temperatures will make it more comfortable and, who knows, maybe if I keep pushing I'll be able to reach 6.2 miles like I did 30 years ago when I ran 10K races.  Even back then I wasn't a racehorse--no trophies, no ring of roses.  I felt I was doing good just to stay at least a few feet in front of the ambulance.  

Meds:   Amiodarone, Cardizem,  Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, B-12, L-Arginine, Glucosoamine, Garlic, Aspirin, Omega-3 Fish Oil, Vitamin C

Sunday, July 28, 2013

DAYS 463-509 RECOVERY


As the weeks turn into months, I continue to walk the mile up and down the road several times per week. Other  than having to monitor my blood pressure, which wants to be too high even with medication, and a brief gastrointestinal problem, I've had no medical setbacks.  Even my left knee is no longer painful when walking downhill. This time of year, instead of working out at the gym, I do a great amount of physical work here as we continue to carve out our little homestead on the side of the mountain. 

I feel I've mastered the two-mile round trip up the road and back while walking.  Running is another story.  On an incline I become out of breath after only a short distance.  Running is such a leap from walking that I've become a bit discouraged so I've come up with a plan to bridge the gap.  Maybe if I condition my body to running on a flat plane, then I might be able to better make the transition to running up an incline.   With no flat surfaces here, I'll need to drive to town to use the running track at the elementary school or another at the horse complex.  I don't want to give up reaching my "Rocky moment"  so this week like the little train engine that tried to make it up the hill, I'll say, "I think I can!  I think I can!  I think I can!"

Meds:   Amiodarone, Cardizem,  Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, B-12, L-Arginine, Glucosoamine, Garlic, Aspirin, Omega-3 Fish Oil, Vitamin C, Pantoprazole

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

DAYS 442 - 462 RECOVERY

I reached a milestone, literally, last week when I walked the whole mile up the mountain road.  This accomplishment was a major step toward my goal of running one mile up that same road.  I actually ran a tiny bit of the way.  It helped that my goat, Olive, who was wearing a leash, pulled me, or maybe I should say dragged me.

Walking back down the mile was easy until I got to the incline that goes up to our cabin.  Once again, Olive came to my assistance.  You don't think that's cheating, do you? 

Meds:   Amiodarone, Cardizem,  Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, B-12, L-Arginine, Glucosoamine, Garlic, Aspirin, Omega-3 Fish Oil, Vitamin C 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

DAY 438 - 441 RECOVERY

It's a little unsettling when you're lying on the examining table in the doctor's office and a nurse lifts up your shirt in preparation for doing an EKG, gets a look of horror on her face and shrieks, "WHAT is that?"  My initial thought was that it was the scars from the ports that were inserted into my stomach area during the open heart surgery last year.  But then, she is a cardiologist's nurse, she should be used to this. 

Another nurse came to the rescue.  Unbeknownst to me a tick decided I looked pretty yummy and latched on to an area below my boob where I couldn't see.  It's difficult to believe that someone could be a nurse and have never seen a tick.  I suppose she's a city girl who's never hiked or lived in the woods and doesn't know anyone who has.  After the tick removal, she still hadn't totally calmed down, so the other nurse did the EKG.  Even after this brief turmoil, my blood pressure and EKG readings were fine.  I doubt that nurse's would have been.  I hope she never has to work in an ER. 

I so much wanted to get off the two heart meds I've been taking since last summer.  Amiodarone is loaded with side effects, one that can cause a permanent disfiguring blue-grey discoloration of the skin with sun exposure.  Old age has taken enough of a toll on my appearance, I surely don't need a freakish skin color.  Because I have a lot of faith and trust in this doctor in Spartanburg SC, he convinced me to remain on a low dose of amiodarone at least for the next nine-months as a safeguard to prevent my heart from going out of rhythm.  So I'm looking at another summer of staying covered head to toe and slathering sunscreen on those body parts that may become exposed. 

There are several types of non-invasive ablations to cure atrial fibrillation.  Most aren't a permanent cure and need to be repeated.  He said the kind I had through open heart surgery, is the "big gun."  Most times it offers a permanent cure.  "Do-overs" with the Cox Maze III usually aren't successful if the heart misbehaves.  I'm also supposed to remain on meds to keep my blood pressure in check.  

He gave me the go ahead to return to strenuous exercise, so I'm happy to say I can once again begin working on my goal of running one mile up a mountain road. He highly recommends basic walking on a regular basis, however when one lives on the side of a mountain, no walking is "basic."  

He stressed that caffeine is a no-no because it can trigger an irregular heartbeat.  Some mornings I soooo need a kick from my coffee, but I'll have to settle for sipping decaf and dragging myself through the day.  All of this is just a small price to pay for adding years to my life.

Meds:   Amiodarone, Cardizem,  Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, B-12, L-Arginine, Glucosoamine, Garlic, Aspirin, Omega-3 Fish Oil, Vitamin C 

Friday, May 17, 2013

DAYS 417 - 437 RECOVERY

I finally heard from the cardiologist's office regarding the results of wearing the 24-hour monitor to determine if my heart was staying in rhythm.  The result was that there were no results.  They said they experienced a technical glitch and lost the data from the monitor when it was being transferred to the computer.  They asked that I come back in so they could outfit me with the monitor to redo the test.  I asked them to transfer my medical records to the cardiologist in SC.   I'll be seeing him later today. 

Meds:   Amiodarone, Cardizem,  Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, B-12, L-Arginine, Glucosoamine, Garlic, Aspirin, Omega-3 Fish Oil, Vitamin C

Friday, April 26, 2013

DAYS 414 - 416 RECOVERY


My biggest fear  was relieved on Tuesday when I  found there is no problem with my mitral valve.  There is some leakage, but it is still within acceptable limits.  I was disappointed that the doctor didn't have the results from the 24-hr heart monitor to determine if my heart has gone back into A-Fib (atrial fibrillation).  He was supposed to call me Wednesday morning.  When I didn't hear from him, I called his nurse.  She said the results hadn't come in.  I called back yesterday and was told the monitor still hadn't been read.  I've heard nothing today.  My patience is wearing thin.  Since I've had other issues with the support department of this medical practice, I'm considering switching my maintenance care back to the cardiologist in South Carolina who handled my case during the heart surgery.  I don't like to have my life put on hold. 

Meds:   Amiodarone, Benicar HCT,  Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, B-12, L-Arginine, Glucosoamine, Garlic, Aspirin, Omega-3 Fish Oil, Vitamin C