Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Post Heart Surgery Again

Good Wednesday to everyone!  I once again find myself post heart surgery and feeling much better than I had been feeling.

If you read my post about Dismal Post Heart Attack Care, you know that I was not happy with the care that I received after I left the hospital after my heart attack.  They were fabulous while I was there and saved my life.  It was the after care and I wasn't comfortable not being seen for heart care for another year.  I went for a second opinion two weeks ago because I was having chest pain.  I just had a feeling that it wasn't right.    The doc ordered a nuclear medicine stress test, echocardiogram and a holter monitor.  I had those done a week ago today and kicked some butt on the treadmill during the stress test. They wore out my legs before my heart.  I left the hospital feeling really upbeat that maybe nothing was wrong.

They had told me to expect the results probably today.  They said the docs would need to read them and that the only reason I would hear from them any earlier is if something was really abnormal.  Don't you know that they called me last Thursday morning!  The nurse said that my stress test was abnormal and showed restenosis.  They wanted me in the cath lab on Monday.  She told me they would take a look and do whatever intervention was necessary on Monday.

I was hysterical over this and could not quit crying.  Even though I had chest pain, I had convinced myself that it was nothing.  I didn't want to go through all of this again. I don't want to be this sick--this was all I could think.  I am 43 years old and too young to be this sick. Once I pulled myself together, then I was just mad.  Really pissed!!  I have done all of this work.  I've lost a bunch of weight and I eat a whole grain, plant based diet.  I eat no animal products at all--not one bit of meat or dairy. (Outside of drowning my surgery fears in some ice cream!)  How can I be having these problems?  I am not normally one to wallow in any kind of self pity, but I wallowed in it for three days.

On Monday, I checked into the hospital at 9 am.  They took me to the cath lab and started prepping me with an IV,  fluids and lots of bells and whistles that sound very loudly when something is wrong with your heart.  My 11 am surgery got pushed back because their was an ER emergency in the cath lab. You will never find me complaining about pushing me back because of a cardiac emergency in the ER.  On October 13, 2011 I was that cardiac emergency suffering from a massive heart attack. I just sat and chatted with my husband and my friend Steph. 

They finally took me back about 11:50.  They were all so nice and my experience there was awesome.  Once I was back, the doc made the incision in my femoral artery in the groin area, threaded the catheter to my heart and took a look.  Turns out, I was 70% blocked in two areas from scarring.  Because my arteries are already small, the amount of scarring that was there was quite a bit.  I would have had another heart attack had I ignored this.  They were actually able to re-stent and used two additional stents to open the scar tissue blockage back up.  It was instant chest pain relief.

I will note that even though I wasn't happy about the follow up care of my first doc, this was not his fault.  The scarring is just something that happens.  If you have normal sized arteries, this is not a biggie.  The reason it was an issue for me is because of my small arteries.  Go figure!  The new doc said now that we have fixed the scarring issue, he does not feel like I will have any more problems.  What a relief because if I do have any more problems, there is not any room for any more stents!  It would be cracking my chest open and by passing the area.

I don't normally give advice, but today I am throwing out a bit of advice.  My advice is to always listen to your gut instinct and to understand that doctors don't always get it right.  Stand up for yourself and your health care. I listened to my gut instinct on October 13, 2011 and called an ambulance which saved my life during a massive heart attack.  In May, I really, really wanted the answer my first doc gave me which is I was fine.  The problem was that my gut told me I wasn't.  I listened again, got a second opinion and managed to avoid a second heart attack altogether.  I once again feel like the luckiest girl in the world!

I am also the luckiest girl in the world because of the outpouring of encouragement I have received from all of those in my life.  It is truly amazing and I lead a very blessed, amazing life.  I now get to focus on my first of two 25 year class reunions coming up a week from Saturday.  I get to go on vacation in July and then I get to go to the other 25 year reunion in August.  I can feel comfortable once again that I will be there in person and not on the memorial table.  That, my friends, is a beautiful thing!

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Well hell, all of the kickin' ass and takin' names I've been doing on my road to heart health has not been enough.  There is too much scar tissue at the stent site for my genetically small arteries, so off to  heart surgery on Monday.  All of you need to listen to your bodies.  If I had listened to my original cardiologist, I would never have caught this before another massive heart attack and I could have been dead by next year's appointment!  There is no amount of nutrition or exercise that would have prevented the scar tissue, so I know there is nothing short of not having the first heart attack that could have prevented this surgery.  I'll post when I am through it:)  Cheers!!

Time To Re-Focus

So, I have lost the 30 lbs but still have 23 more to lose to be in a healthy BMI range.  As much as I would like to weigh what I did when I graduated high school, realistically after kids, my body is just not THAT skinny anymore.  ***Sigh***.  I started at 203, weigh 173 and have a healthy BMI goal of 150.

My body started changing shape when I gained 90 lbs with my first pregnancy.  I started at 140 and ended at 230 on my 5'6" frame.  This was really the start of total out of control being fat for me.  I was 29 when I got pregnant the first time--for those of you doing the math on me being a grandma, my older kids are by marriage;) I am 43 now so that is 14 years of weight struggles.  I am tired of struggling with weight.  I am tired of the havoc it has wreaked on my health.  Most of all and most shallowly I will openly admit that I really just want to look better.  I don't like being fat, but it is so very hard to jump off the fat bandwagon.   I am getting there.  I'm glad I was able to jump off even if it took a 3 day post heart attack stay in the ICU to get me there. I know me better than anyone else and I can tell you that I don't always like what I know about me.  I know that if I had not had the heart attack, I'd still be on the fat bandwagon.  Blessings come in odd packages sometimes!!

Right now, I am stalled.  I have lost the 30 lbs but have not lost anymore.  On the flip side, my body is changing shape from all of the walking.  I still loathe it, the exercise.  Perhaps this is why I didn't stay skinny bitch after high school--and I was a skinny little thing!  I just really, really loathe exercising.  Once I am doing it, it feels good and I feel great after.  It is the actually getting started.  I have been walking 3 miles 4-5 times a week for some time now.  I will get there, it is just so frustratingly slow!

If you follow my blog, you know several things about me including the fact that I am now vegan and the fact that I struggle with my last vice which is caffeine (coffee and soda).  I have been feeling stuck and found this the other day:  Stuck In A Rut.  I read it and it was like hitting me over the head with a hammer.  Just because you are vegan does not automatically make your diet healthy.  I have let oil seep back into my diet and have been eating more crackers and bread than I should.  It is time to re-focus and put the overwhelming amount of veggies back into my diet.  I started doing that on Monday.  Now, to just give up the soda:).

We are at a 10 week countdown to my high school reunion which of course is my main motivator currently.  I am so excited to see everyone and excited not to be fat and sick when I go!  Mostly, glad that I am not a person that people will pity because "she is so young to have all those health problems."

I had all of my tests yesterday and don't think I am actually glowing from the radioactive dye that they injected me with!  They went very well.  I have had so much anxiety over these tests and over the lack of knowing where my heart health stands that I haven't been able to sleep. I am so excited that they did not cart me off to the OR and crack my chest open yesterday after the treadmill portion of the testing.  This was my large fear as I got to the hospital yesterday.  I slept so soundly last night even though I don't have the actual results back.  I just needed some reassurance that I am not going to keel of another heart attack right now and not going to the OR helped:)

Here's to getting out of the rut this week, the renewed energy it brings and not keeling of another heart attack!!!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Why do I eat the Rabbit Food??

I went to the new cardiologist last Tuesday.  It was a good day.  Even though I didn't like some of the things he had to say, I understood the explanations.

We talked about the cholesterol lowering medication.  What I wanted to know is if my total cholesterol was at 134 when I had my heart attack, why am I taking it?  I have now gone totally plant based, whole grain which also lowers cholesterol.  He explained to me that once you have had a heart attack,  none of the numbers you read really pertain to you.  Once you've had a heart attack, there is no such thing as cholesterol that is too low.

We talked about the anatomy of most heart attacks.  Most  heart attacks are not caused by a gradual blockage of the artery rather they are caused by a small plaque build up.  The plaque in the build up ruptures and the blood rushes to clot the rupture which results in a complete blockage causing a heart attack.  There are other causes of heart attacks, but this is what they think caused mine.  He explained that the cholesterol lowering medication not only prevents further build up (as does the way of eating I now follow), but it also makes any existing plaque build up more stable.  All of this being said, he told me I didn't have to take the medicine, but if he is me, he takes it.  Armed with the knowledge that I need, I can now comfortably make an educated decision.  I am going to have my liver function tested to make sure it is doing no damage and if it is not I have decided to continue taking it.

We discussed the fact that I am having heart palpitations and some tightness in my chest.  Every pain I feel is concerning to me.  We are running tests on Wednesday to check these things out--nuclear medicine stress test, echocardiogram and holter monitor.  He said at this point the stress test and echo would be standard for someone post heart attack.  The holter monitor is to check out the heart palpitations.  There is a 95% chance I have always had them and only now notice them because I am so in tune with what goes on in my chest. Hopefully, that is what we find out.

On the bright side, the doctor likes the diet I am following.   I wish I could educate those around me about my diet better.  One of the guys at work asked me if I am still eating that "rabbit food".  He also asked if there is just medicine I could take.  Basically he can't understand why I am so intent on living a healthy when I could just take medicine.  He clearly doesn't get it--being heart attack free is a complete lifestyle change which I excel at most days.  There are a few that sneak in that are not as healthy as others, but I don't stress over that as long as they stay in the very few.