Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial day to you all!  I have had some time to experiment in the kitchen this weekend, so here is what I have learned.

First, I learned about parchment paper.  Who knew??  It is not easy to cook without oil.  Actually let me correct that.  It is not easy for me to cook at all, let alone without oil.  There--that sums me up better.  I have had multiple episodes of filling the entire house with black smoke attempting to cook without oil.  The parchment paper fixes this. I used it twice yesterday and I will be keeping this on hand in my kitchen.  I can cook on it with no oil and not burn everything up.

The first recipe I tried was White Bean Queso Dip.

This was a great recipe from Robin Robertson.  Actually, I can always make her recipes and you can find her blog here.  This was so yummy and satisfies the Mexican cravings I have.

The second recipe that I worked on was for a veggie burger.  Now it sounds like a veggie burger should be easy to make, but not so much.  I have struggled to find a recipe that I can make successfully.  I tried this recipe from the Engine 2 Diet site.  I chose the black beans, quick oats , peppers and corn.  I used 1/4 C of vegetable stock.  Mine were a little on the wet side, so next time I would add more oats. 

Here is what dinner looked like last night:
I cooked my sweet potato wedges on the parchment paper too.

I have an appointment with a new cardiologist tomorrow.  I hope to have answers to all of my questions and concerns after my appointment.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dismal Post Heart Attack Care

In my last post I wrote about what I call post heart attack stun.  As I have emerged from this and done loads of research, I have learned a few things.  I have learned enough to know that I should question what is told to me.

I went to my cardiologist in Lawrence on Tuesday.  After almost an hour of waiting in the waiting room, they called me back.  So, we get back in the room and the nurse is insinuating that my family doctor should be managing my meds because he prescribed them.  Really??  Did you not look at my records?  Up until October 13, 2011 I took absolutely no medicine.   So, I asked her why my family doc would manage the meds that my cardiologist gave me.  She got hateful.  We continue on through reviewing my list of meds.  Mind you, she is following through the EMR that is asking these questions.  About three questions after the list of meds, she asks if I bruise easily.  I say "Why yes, I am taking blood thinners."  She looks at me and says "you are?"  We had just gone over the fact that I take aspirin and Plavix.  Plavix is a blood thinner.  Now I am worried because the nurse taking care of me in the cardiologist office doesn't know that Plavix is a blood thinner!!  Isn't that her job?  She also tells me that 120/80 is not normal blood pressure, it is way too high.  I proceeded to tell her that I was quite frankly sick of her and to send the doctor in.  I know, I was hateful but this is my health we are  talking about.  It is at this point after I am livid that she takes my BP and it was high  133/77.  I attribute this to her lack of being a good nurse and pissing me off.

The doc comes in.  He asks how I am doing and we do all the chit chat.  I am expecting that 7 months post heart attack we will do an EKG at least.  Perhaps we will check my cholesterol because it was a total of 134 when they put me on cholesterol lowering medication so "your heart can rest."  He proceeds to say he doesn't think I will have anymore issues and that the four prescription meds I am on will just be lifetime meds because that is how he treats all heart attack patients and he will see me in a year.  Really, this is it?  Don't you think if I am going to take the cholesterol meds that you should check my liver function?  Nope, not even going to do that.  Does he even realize that a lifetime of meds for someone that is 43 is a whole lot different than a lifetime of meds for someone who is 80?

I left there livid.  I'd had a list of questions I wanted to ask and I was so mad I didn't even ask them.  You expect me to take a cocktail of meds blindly for another year just because that is how you treat all heart attack patients?  Screw you.  That means that you are treating me just the same as someone who has had a heart attack that has not made all of the significant life changes that I have.  I now follow a  plant based, whole grain diet yet you are going to treat me just as the person who still eats chicken fried steak and gravy?  Screw you again.  I want to be treated because I am Jodi, not because I am a heart attack patient.  You want to treat me like someone who hasn't lost any weight and doesn't exercise?  Screw you again.  I exercise every day and have lost 30 lbs.  You haven't bothered with any blood work, EKG or stress tests--screw you again.  I am grateful you saved my life, but you have hung me out to dry guessing if I am even on the right path post heart attack.

I have a second opinion scheduled for Tuesday at another hospital.  There is no way I am blindly taking a dangerous drug cocktail with no monitoring for the next year.  You know what really scares me?  I have worked in and around the medical field since I was 22 years old so I am not afraid of doctors and I don't think they are always right.  How does someone that has not gained the knowledge I have over the years know to question this type of treatment?  How does someone who is elderly and confused know to question this type of treatment?  It scares me for all of the patients that do not have the motivation to do their own research on their illnesses. I expect that this next appointment will go much better.  I can't imagine there are too many docs in this world that suck this bad at follow up care as the one I have been seeing.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Far Reaching Effects

I volunteered a week ago at an AHA event in Kansas City.  This video was made that day and it is a powerful example of how families are affected by heart disease.

Post Heart Attack Stun

So over on the Facebook Page yesterday I posted about not going vegan until Jan 1 because of post heart attack stun.  Post heart attack stun is what I call the period following the heart attack where everything seems so surreal and you really don't absorb what has happened.

Once I was out of the cath lab, they wheeled me up to the ICU.  There was lots of talking from the doctors and the nurses. I really didn't absorb much of it.  Quite honestly, I could hardly believe I'd had a heart attack.  I most certainly could not absorb the seriousness of the situation.  It was much like I would envision an out of body experience.  It was hard to absorb any of it because I knew I’d had a heart attack yet, I didn’t feel like it.  The symptoms I had experienced were nothing like what I thought a heart attack would be.  I never lost consciousness…hell, they didn’t give me anything more than Valium and Versed during my surgery.  I watched it all on the flat screens.  To me, this is not the picture of a massive heart attack.

I know my friends and family had a hard time absorbing it too.  On that Thursday after my husband, ex-husband and kids left and I was alone in the room, it was probably 10:00pm.  I called my friend Deb and this is how our conversation goes:  

Deb:  “Hey, what are you up to?”
Me:   “I just had a heart attack.”
Deb:  “Over what?”
Me:  “Seriously, I just had a heart attack and I just got out of the cath lab. I’m      
           in the ICU."
Deb:  Stunned silence.

This is how most of my conversations went immediately following the heart attack. I was 42 and so are most of them.  I can picture just what they were feeling.  Jodi is 42, so am I.  That is too young.  That is what I thought too.
As the sun came up Friday morning, I had a steady stream of docs, nurses, counselors, and cardiac rehab folks in and out of my room.  Each one telling me I was very lucky and I had done everything right.  At this point, I still have no idea of the seriousness of the heart attack I had suffered.  No one used the term “widow-maker”.  Even if they had used that term, I wouldn’t have understood.  Friday night, they moved me out of the ICU and into a regular room.  I got to go home on Saturday and refused all pain and anxiety meds when I went home.

By Tuesday, I made an appointment with my family doctor because I desperately needed the pain meds.  The femoral artery incision site and all of the surrounding bruising turned out to be very, very painful. He has access to the hospital records but didn’t realize I’d had a heart attack.  When he looked at the records, he said, “Oh boy, you survived the widow-maker.  Did you know only 20% of women survive it?”  This was my first indication that I could actually absorb of what had really happened.  He spent much more time with me than I know he had scheduled and I will forever appreciate it.  We went back over all of my test results from my physical that I had just had about 7 weeks prior to the heart attack.  He was just as surprised as me.

What really brought me out of the post heart attack stun and into a change mode was a show I watched in November.  I watched CNN's "The Last Heart Attack."  What I watched there truly frightened me.  It was then that I started researching everything that had happened to me.  I was mostly frightened by the things I came across.  I made the decision to drastically alter my lifestyle and go plant based on January 1, 2012.(No need to set myself up to fail over the holidays.)

Once I was able to emerge from the stun, I was able to take control of my life and make the decision not to let this happen to me again.  It has been very liberating.  As of today, the scale is down 30 lbs and I weigh exactly what I did the day I got married almost four years ago.  I have 23 more pounds and will have hit the goal weight of being in a healthy BMI for my height.  The skinny bitch is in sight!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

You Never Want To Hear Stemi Alert

The University of Kansas Medical Center sends me a little magazine called Be Well three times a year.  Yesterday, I received the May-August 2012 issue.  In large part, the issue is about the new home for women's heart health.  It looks like a fabulous facility.  In this issue, I find this:

So, I find the STEMI thing highly disturbing.  What they called from the ambulance to LMH was a STEMI alert when I was on my way to the hospital. I didn't know what that meant until I read this.  Although I knew I had a massive heart attack, I did not realize it was really the worst kind you could have.  I learn something new everyday....and I am more thankful every day.

On Friday, I volunteered for the Go Red For Women Half Day event in Kansas City.  There was a fabulous turnout and everyone came to bid on fabulous auction items.  All to raise money for the American Heart Association.  I had a great time and hope to volunteer again:

Me on the left

I continue to improve and am absolutely still following the plant based diet.  Truly, I have never felt better.

I have no new food news this week.  On a good note, I think my kitchen and I are coming to a truce.  Perhaps my kitchen understands that I now really need to use it and is cutting me some slack for my lack of domestic gene.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What Is The Difference?

So, a few posts back I posted that of the women that initially survive a heart attack, 42% of those women die with in a year.  I wonder why these women die because I still have five and a half months of this statistic hanging over my head.  October 13 is my heart anniversary.  I have searched blogs of women that have suffered heart attacks and found that there are women that are still very sick from their heart attack even years after the heart attack.  I have been really questioning why these women are not doing as well as me--what is the difference?

I have read over and over about women who were having a  heart attack that drove themselves or had someone else drive them to the hospital and were misdiagnosed and sent home.  They are misdiagnosed with a multitude of different illnesses.  Back strain, gallbladder disease, indigestion and panic attacks and the flu.   Mostly they were misdiagnosed because heart attacks can present as back strain, gallbladder disease, indigestion, panic attacks and the flu.  The thing is, when they are misdiagnosed, the heart muscle damage they suffer only gets worse.  Once you suffer heart muscle damage, your heart is just damaged.  It doesn't fix itself.  So here these women are having been misdiagnosed and their heart muscle is slowly dying as they are sent home.  My heart breaks for them.  I have read about women who can hardly brush their own hair, take a shower by themselves or walk from the car to the house because of the heart muscle damage their heart attacks caused them. 

So, why am I not in the same shape after the massive heart attack that I suffered?  I can tell you that immediately following my heart attack, I laid in the ICU thinking that this is what my life would be like.  All I could picture was not being able to function.  I am so fortunate that things did not turn out this way for me.  What was different for me?  I asked that over and over--how did I get so lucky?  I got lucky by chance.

The day I had my heart attack, I had just the right set of circumstances that made me call an ambulance.  I had the right combination of symptoms that gave me the feeling that I would die if I didn't get help and get it quickly.  Don't get me wrong, I had all the same things go through my head as anyone else would--should I call the ambulance?  What if it is just indigestion?  I was home by myself so if I went in an ambulance, I wouldn't have a ride home if they didn't keep me.  It turned out to be a good thing that I was home by myself because I couldn't talk my decision over with anyone.  I couldn't say I'll just wait until after the kids are fed or homework is done.  There wasn't anything else for me to concentrate on other than how bad I felt.

In the end, I called the ambulance.  When they loaded me in the ambulance, my blood pressure was 200/120--way high!  From the ambulance they called my symptoms into the ER.  As a result, when we arrived, I never saw a member of the ER staff.  The docs and nurses I saw were all part of the specialized cardiac team.  They called them into the hospital and they had all arrived when I got there and were waiting for me.  I had a fabulous interventional cardiologist that had no doubt that a woman my age could be having a heart attack.  The reality was I had 100% blockage of my left descending coronary artery also known as the widow maker. I was lucky not to be misdiagnosed.  He told me I did everything right.

As I continue to read the stories that are not as successful as mine, I continue to become more thankful and understand more and more that I am so very lucky. I take advantage of this as I have completely changed my lifestyle.  I am totally no oil added vegan and I exercise everyday.  I have started walking at lunch for 30 minutes everyday with one of my coworkers.  We have been doing this for three weeks.  I have not had a soda in over a week.  I have great co workers that cheer me on as well as family and friends.  I am a very lucky gal!

In the end, all I can come up with as I continue to think about it is that luck was the only difference.