Saturday, August 7, 2010

My Heart Adventure

I'm in Sedona, gaining some serenity and perspective on this new adventure. I decided I needed to write about what has been happening. So here goes....

Last February I got my annual physical, which this year included an first since 2002. Dr's office called to say "everything" looked good. All the blood monitors were fact improved". I continue on fat, dumb and happy. Had big summer trailer trip plans to meet up with my friend Sandy in the North Carolina Mtns. In the meantime, my Asthma was giving me fits....or so I thought. I was having trouble breathing, coughing almost constantly and just tired.

Being me, I pushed through all this and blamed it on the poor air quality in my area and my obesity. I signed up with a personal trainer and worked out 3 times a week for a couple of months until I got my typical respiratory infection and had to stop with the trainer. Flew to WA. in April for my friend Marianne's B'day...came home and started feeling less and less like heading out in the trailer for N. Carolina. I talked to Sandy and told her I just didn't want to make a big trip this fact I thought I'd try to stay home through an AZ summer and see how that went.

So I slugged through June and most of July, coughing and audibly breathing hard. Asthma Dr. upped my meds, did a breathing test and sent me on my way. In June, Sandy and I spent a week at Lake Tahoe and I realized just how out of shape I was....again, my fault for being fat and the old Asthma problem.

In mid-July I had a mid year app't with my Dr. to check in and check meds. I also wanted to talk to her about the headaches I had been stuff. At the app'tment she ordered an MRI for the headaches and renewed my prescriptions. As an afterthought, I said, "by the way, how did that Echocardiogram come out. She looked in the file and said in a rather alarmed voice, "you've got some heart damage here".....I was shocked and asked, "how could that happen?". She said, "people have silent heart attacks everyday". I said, "how scared should I be?"....She said, "don't be scared, get need to lose 50 pounds and start getting some you have high blood pressure"....more new news. So she gave me a script for blood pressure meds and sent me home to check back with her in 6 wks. Dazed I left the office, with a copy of my Echo.

I got on the internet and tried to figure out what the Echo said...the more I thought about it, the idea that I could have had a heart attack and not know it was beyond anxiety provoking. So I called the Cardiologist whose read the Echo and set up an app't. I had a week to wait and my anxiety levels were soaring....I ended up in the emergency room with an anxiety attack...they did an MRI...blood work, EKG and found no stroke evidence....but yes, I had had a heart attack at some time in the past...I was sent home with Valium, which I highly reccomment.LOL

Fast forward....Cardio Dr. checked all the reports and decided a heart catherization was the litmus test he needed. On July 21st I was "cathed". Dr. found one artery fully blocked but with a bypass created by "body magic"...two more arteries were 90 and 95% blocked....alas no magic there. So he opened them up with a balloon and inserted metal stents to keep them open. 24 hours later I was released from the hospital....and sent home. Turns out I had been in heart failure for all the time I was blaming it on Asthma. I almost immediately was breathing clearly and coughing very little. The joy of blood and oxygen cannot be overrated!

Once I was home, the emotional roller coaster began. I went from gratitude to terror to guilt and back through the whole ride again and again. My family, including my soul sisters, Sandy, Karen and Marianne, gathered me in their love and got me through. Also a wonderful website called "HeartSisters" and a great book, "From the Heart".

So now I'm moving into my new lifestyle....beginning with cardio-rehab in a couple of weeks. Three months of monitored exercise and education on heart, stress reduction, etc. A support group called "Mended Hearts" and quarterly visits with the Cardio Dr. for monitoring and more testing. There are some other heart and pulmonary issues to deal with but that can wait for another time to talk about. For now I am grateful to be alive and have the opportunity to change make adjustments to a lifestyle that no longer serves me.