A New Year…a New Life…

This forum is new to me…and after some discussion and feedback  on some of my previous posts…I have decided on trying a new approach.  Rather than just random thoughts that are popping into my head at any given time, why not try a series on one particular topic.

On December 6th, 2011, just over one month ago I had heart surgery.  I was awake through the whole thing…watched as they ran this contraption through my arm and put in a stent to open an artery that had a blockage.  It doesn’t hurt…but it feels very strange as you can feel it moving around inside of you.

Just to give you a bit of background…I had no symptoms.  I did not have a heart attack…there was no numbness…no loss of breath…no fatigue.  In fact, I was feeling very healthy.  Since I started running again in February of 2010, I have lost a substantial amount of weight.  I have been good with my diet….great with working out and running and have in fact had more energy than I can ever remember having.

We came upon this heart issue rather by chance.  I had gone for a CT Scan of my lungs last year to finish up monitoring some nodules that had been discovered.  ( I was a smoker at one time and have been in a house fire…so the fact that there is some scarring on my lungs comes as no surprise.)  I got the all clear on the lungs…they were in good shape, however, the radiologists thought he saw a shadow around the heart.  So began a series of tests…and while I would come through the test with flying colours…at the end of each one there was a lingering doubt by the doctor and so we would proceed to the next stage of testing.

I had finished up the final nuclear testing (they shoot radioactive dye into you after you have run on a treadmill) and the doctor felt there was a minor blockage there.  At first he was not going to  proceed any further.  So I asked him what type of symptoms I needed to look for.  He then changed his mind and felt because I am so active that we should investigate a little more.  I would be scheduled for an Angiogram shoot dye into the heart muscle) and if they found a blockage  then they would do an Angioplasty (insert a stent into the artery).

Throughout the process of all these tests I was encouraged to continue with my workout routine.  During this final stage of testing I was in fact training for a 14k which happened on September 11, 2011.

As I said I went in on December 6th and had the procedure done.  A week later I went to my family doctor.  I wasn’t happy with the medication that I would have to take.  It seemed to be just an assembly line type of thing in terms of them handing out the medications and telling you to take them for a year.  I read  about the medications  when I got home and was not impressed with the side effects.  Also the cost is really incredibly high.

So I took my concerns to my doctor, who knows me well enough to know I am not a fan of medications.  He sat me down and began to explain a few things.  As it turned out I had a 95% blockage in my artery.  The left side of my heart had been overcomensating for the blockage so the right side of the heart had probably gotten a bit lazy.  My doctor is an articulate and incredibly knowledgeable man who I have come to hold in very high regard.  As he explained all of this to me it really hit home.

For the first time since this whole thing started I realized the seriousness of the situation.  At that moment I felt so very vulnerable.  I also felt that I was far too young to have this happen.  The emotions running through me were pretty raw.  At the end of his explanation my doctor asked me if I had any questions and I think I probably had a million but I just shook my head.  He could tell just by the expression on my face that he had dropped a bit of bomb on me.  He came forward on his stool, took my hands and said “You’re the good story that doctors like to see, Nancy.  You didn’t have a heart attack so no damage has been done and the problem has been corrected.  The bad news is that you have to take the medication for this period of time while the stent embeds itself into the wall of the artery…much like re-bar.”  I nodded then.  We stood up and he said “Merry Christmas, Nancy” and helped me with my coat.

Driving home, I cried.  I am not someone who likes to feel their mortality.  I am sure none of us are.  I don’t like to feel that fragile either…but at that moment I did.

I had to take a bit of downtime from working out to let the body rest up and heal but got the go ahead to resume my exercise regime after a few weeks.

So here is the challenge.  At the end of this year I want to go into the cardiologist’s office and be told that I can go off this medication.  I want to be absolutely, certifiabley, 400% top-notch healthy.

So that is the first challenge.  I also want to finish up a book I have been working on and work on my photography.  So the objective is focus.

What I have set up and have been doing for two weeks now is a 12 week plan.  I will be on a heart healthy diet.  Very minimal eating out…and ensuring that the choices made are heart healthy.  I will be keeping a worksheet itemizing the meals and the workout for the day.  This will be done simply as an exercise to assist with the plan.  I find when I actually take the time to record everything..I make a much more concerted effort to reach my goal.

As I told you before I have been good with my diet….but there is room for improvement.  Last year I socialized a lot and I like a good beer…or two or three.  Not the worst thing in the world but very hard to take off the additional weight needed to get to my optimum health goal.  So at the end of the twelve weeks I am hoping to reach my healthy weight goal…and have the book pretty much done as well.

This will be the series I will be working on and if anyone can assist with any thoughts or ideas…they are most welcome.


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