Thursday, February 16, 2012

My Heart Took a Beating


16 February 2012 

 Like I said yesterday, it took about a year and a half for me to feel something close to “normal” so that’s what I considered fully recovered. In the following months, recovery was a long and painful process for me. I started with walking from my front door to the end of my driveway. At the time that was a distance of maybe 50 feet one way. . It was hard physically and emotionally. The first few times, it seemed like I was climbing Mt Everest and it was very discouraging. But I got over that and soon started walking further and my strength and endurance gradually came back to what it is now

Movement brought pain for months after the surgery. A ride in the car felt like being on the receiving end of a massive beating. Every turn, brake or change in speed or direction brought exceptional pain. I was on strong pain killers for the first several months. They did the job of taking it away mostly. I made the mistake of being confident that I was recovering well and took myself off the pain killers after about two months, thinking they were needless. I quickly learned how wrong I was about that. I had never felt pain like that. It was a deep all consuming pain that would radiate throughout my entire body and sometimes take my breath away. I’m not sure how long after that I stayed on the pain killers completely. But eventually the pain subsided and I was gradually weaned off of them.

 I was on a lot of different drugs then. In addition to the pain killers, I was on Warfarin which is a blood thinner and about three different heart and blood pressure medications. I was also on cholesterol medication and those were having bad side effects on me. After some trial and tribulation, it was determined that the drug Crestor was the drug that suited me best and provided no side effects. With the drugs, the heart surgery and my heart condition, the marked decrease in activity, my weight ballooned. At its high point I got up to almost 280 lbs. (127 Kg). I was wearing a size 44 pants and up to 3XL size shirts. At 5’11’’ that’s way too much girth and way too much strain on an already weakened heart.

Eventually, the amount of medications decreased to what I take today. These days I am prescribed 20 mg Lisinopril for blood pressure, 325 mg aspirin for heart and blood flow and 50 mg Atenolol which is a beta-blocker I take, in conjunction with the Lisinopril, to help regulate my blood pressure. It also helps control and regulate my heart rate, chest pain, and strain on my heart. I take a variety of vitamins and supplements throughout the day to help ensure my body gets its required daily nutrients. I take a combination of fish oil and garlic twice a day. This is great for people like me who have problems with cholesterol and have heart conditions. I also take vitamin C, magnesium and a cranberry supplement that also contains different herbal ingredients. I no longer take blood thinners and no pain medications related to any surgery or heart pains.

I have improved my diet by eating sensibly and as much as possible, eating fresh foods made from scratch. We don’t eat a lot of processed foods though we still eat some. For the most part we make our food from “scratch” as they say. I quit smoking cigarettes when I started having my heart attacks in July of 2003. I have changed my alcohol consumption from “drinking like a fish” to not. Nowadays, when I drink beer, it is normally a craft beer of some type and I only drink 2 beers. When I am feeling “froggy” I will drink 3. I also drink wine and especially bourbon (which I am fond of) in moderation. I no longer drink to excess. I maintain a good schedule of rest and sleep. I monitor my blood sugar, blood pressure and heart rate twice a day and document the results in an Excel database. I give this to the doctors whenever I go see them for checkups. My weight has decreased as has my overall body fat. My weight is currently hovering around 250 – 255. My pants size is back down to a 36 or 38 depending on the brand and cut. I’m also back to wearing 2xl shirts and I wear those because I prefer loose fitting shirts. I still have a ways to go. I would love to get back to around 210-220. If I do that, maybe I can get off the blood pressure medications. I will always have to take aspirin and probably the atenolol. But I have, with my family doctors consent, weaned myself off of the Crestor cholesterol medication! That’s major for me.

There are two things I still am not doing as much as I should. Removing or relieving stress in an adequate fashion. I bring a lot of stress on myself and I have some issues inside me and in my life I need to sort out. They affect me greatly and I continue to work this issue. Writing this blog seems to help but I note with curiosity that as I write about the surgery and the recovery, I experience chest pains and some discomfort. I’m sure it will pass. I’m not exercising enough. I need to at least walk to help exercise my heart and reduce my weight. Walking is the one thing that will have the best result. I do it for a little while then I stop. If I am able to motivate myself enough to maintain a good consistent exercise program I could reach my goals and improve my life greatly. I find it curious that I don’t seem to have the motivation to do that now after what I have been through.

Overall though, my health is better today than it has been in some time. I certainly feel better but not as I did in my younger days. Admittedly, that may be asking too much. But since my heart surgery, I have had numerous episodes of chest pains that were determined to not be heart attacks and just anxiety related episodes. I don’t have any feeling in the inner side of my right leg where they took the veins from my leg. Walking is something I have to do with caution and running is next to impossible. The next time your leg goes to sleep, try to walk on it. That’s what mine kind of feels like every day, all the time. I have had several staph infections originating in that leg that quickly go septic. Each time requiring up to a week’s stay in the hospital. I have had two episodes of blood clots in my lungs and had to give myself blood thinner shots in the stomach. That sounds worse than it is. They really don’t hurt, it’s just weird doing that. I have to go see my cardiologist twice a year for checkups and  testing. Since my 6 vessel by-pass, 4 of the vessel grafts have collapsed and no longer function. I have 2 grafts left and for now all is well.

Despite all that, I am thankful. I am thankful to be alive. It may not be a perfect life but it is a good one despite my occasional belly-aching and whining. I know that no matter what, I have had it worse. The number one reason for my good health and my continued life is my wife, Terry. She has been my lifesaver, my saving grace and my guardian angel. She has stuck this out with me and I have not made it easy for her. It has been just as hard on her and she has never batted an eye, never complained about it and has endured all my crap. She has always been there for me and she has never left me. I love her for being there for me. I love her for being my wife and consider myself very fortunate that she’s here.

Have a Blessed Day Ya’ll!

Today’s “Did Ya Know” It’s “Do a Grouch a Favor” Day!!!!!! Instead of poking that bear, how about getting him a beer???? He might be nice to you in return. Or not! So if you see someone being grouchy, go do or say something nice to them. It may be all it takes to change a bad day into a good one for them!


Today’s Related Links:

WebMD article on Cardiac Rehabilitation:

National “Do a Grouch a Favor” Day

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