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Posts Tagged ‘heart’

During my adult lifetime, I have been everything from a size 6 to a size 22.  After years of up and down and not liking crowded closets, I have settled on having rubbermaids labeled 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 and I used to have 18, but I got rid of it last year.  For ever!!!

While I have not gotten back to my weight lifting and aerobic exercise routine I had before my heart problems came up, I am serious about how I eat.  After open heart surgery, I found out I was one of the 26.9 % of people who develop Type II diabetes.  During 2009, I laid off of sweets, to a large degree, and went even lower on salt than I already was.  I cut out red meat, for the most part.  My doctor told me that it will not kill me to eat a piece of cake for my birthday and I have occasionally done so.  Did I mention that I have three official birthdays a year?

Salad for breakfast

In the beginning vegan diet, there was salad to eat. I was hungry 24/7 and now salad is but one part of my diet

Then, I found out that my heart surgery had failed and I had 70% blockage in a vein at the entry point to my heart. I am no longer a candidate for further open heart surgery, so I decided to go vegan.

First, let me say, in no way has this been an easy battle.  The first two months of a plant based diet seemed to be the magical formula.  I lost two pounds a week, but was continually hungry and never satisfied.  It’s the same plant based, no oil diet that President Clinton went on after his heart problem.  Only thing is, I do not have a chef to make the food taste good and the creator of the diet has the wierdest taste buds on earth.  He puts sweet potatoes or sweet squash in everything, along with about 26 more ingrediants) and frankly only sweet and sour chicken is a sweet/sour mix I like.

I am now eating Vegetarian and hoping to work my way back to Vegan.  With the help of three cholesterol busters (medications) and my no meat diet (and there is the very, very occasional hamburger out) I have reduced my clogging from 70% to 50%. You can do that.

Now, if I can just get my body back on the treadmill and weight bench, I can maybe get some of those rubbermaids emptied out to Good Will.

Bon Appetite!

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I come from a line of worriers.  Dad would faithfully watch the news each day and that would give him a whole new set of problems to worry about.  A car drove through a house somewhere in the country and now we must be on alert for rampaging cars.  A girl was attacked.  Then, we were going to be attacked.  He was sure of it as sure as he was that everyone was out to get him.

I’m sure he would have had a field day in this post 9/11 world.  He already avoided large cities because people were mugged in large cities, there was traffic in large cities and everything cost more in large cities.

My mother, having lived with my dad for well over fifty years, has absorbed some of his worrying.

The other day, I received a call from her. The doctor recently asked Hospice to begin attending to mother.  She lives alone, in an apartment and has not been eating well.  She has four very bad leaky heart valves and by the time she has buttered her bread, to make a sandwich, she is so tired that she has to go and sit down and rest.  It can often take her an hour to make a sandwich and by then, she’s just too tired to eat it.

The latest thing is that they are bringing her out a hospital bed.  She has trouble getting into her craftmatic, twin bed.  It is high and she has to sit on the edge and roll and grab the opposing side of the mattress to pull herself the rest of the way up.  This is fraught with the possibilty of her falling out, so a hospital bed can be lowered to a more amenable height for her.

She called me today with a question she has already inquired about two other times.

What happens, with Hospice, if I don’t die in six months?

My first response really wanted to be something like, “Just what are you going to do about this?”

But, mom doesn’t get my sense of humor and I really did not feel like her dying was a good thing to joke about.  So, I again explained that should she not die in six months, they will reevaluate her health status and then resign her up as needing care.  This is presuming that her heart has not miraculously healed itself in six months time.  Should that happen, we will bring back her craftmatic bed for her to use, as “yes, at that time, they would take her hospital bed away.”

There is no date stamped on her.  She may live six years.  We have explained that the doc is not saying, “You have six months to live.”  He’s just saying, “you need help to live a rich, full, safe, life.”  Just enjoy it, Mom.  After 89 years, you have the right to have someone come and help you make a sandwich and dust.

Surely, there are more important things to worry about than where her craftmatic bed is.

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In 2007, I faced mortality when I had emergency heart surgery and stayed in intensive care for six days.  This post is about a woman learning to be a vegan, and not for altruistic reasons either.  I wish I was that altruistic. A little back story is in order here.

I have this theory:  Two people with intense medical histories should not procreate.  I am the product of a family with cancer and a family with cancer and heart disease:  A double whammy.  I have been fortunate, through the intervention of the medical establishment who has managed to remove just about every non-essential or redundant organ in my body, to have dodged the cancer bullet.   

My brother died at age 46 from non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.  He did not believe in going to the doctor and waited for three months after he found a lump.  That, and five direct ancestors and three not-direct-line relatives, and an HMO, took his life.

In 2005, I watched as my mother deteriorated from heart disease.  She survived breast cancer but had/has congestive heart failure and all of her heart valves were/are leaking.  I said, “not me” and began a program of alternating aerobics and weight lifting.  Me, whose mother told me “ladies don’t sweat,” who was always picked last for any sport in gym, who was winded from walking up the library stairs, I was now loving weight lifting.

In 2005 and for nine months, I watched my diet and exercised.  I lost two dress sizes and not a single bleeding pound.  Yes, muscle does weigh more than fat, apparently.  I could now run up the library stairs without a thought though.  I beat it.  I would not suffer what my mother was.  I would be in great health.  Then, I woke up one morning exhausted. 

It progressed for two years until the aforementioned heart surgery.  Sorry, guess it was a lot of back story, but here we are.  Fast forward to early 2010.  I am eating good enough that I have lost thirty pounds, and am eating a fairly low fat diet.  I’ve never been much of a beef eater, although the rare Prime Rib is appealing.  I like turkey burgers, chicken and fish.  I’m happy.  Then, I go to the doctor.

My G.P. is concerned that I am tired again (that seems to be a main symptom of many women’s heart problems.  Cardiologist does another Cardiac Catherization, as the stress test does not show a problem on me.  My blockage is still there.  The bi-pass failed.  The surgery did seem to take care of the spasm that was putting me in danger, though I am also on medication for that.  But, now I am one vein short, if I ever need one.

I am told that I am not a candidate for further heart surgery.  The blockage is at the heart, where a stint will not work.  Since it has not gotten worse in four years, I should just keep doing what I am doing.  WHAT?  Keep my fingers crossed???  That’s not me.

I had recently seen an interview with President Bill Clinton, who decided to do something about his heart blockage.  He went on a vegan, oil free diet.  It is based on a diet you can read about in  Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D. 

See more here:  http://www.heartattackproof.com/     and here, a modified version from his fireman son:  http://engine2diet.com/28-day-tools/

So, I started eating what I imagined this diet was, but every night dinner was whatever husband fixed for he and the boys because I was just so hungry.  Then, the book came and the fun began.  Stay tuned.

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I was recently told by my heart doctor that he had never told me my heart was functioning at a low percentage.  Now, I was delighted to hear this.  It has acted like a sugar pill to give me energy that I could not tap into the day before.  Embarrassed, am I? Yes!  Glad I am wrong?  Yes!  Happy with my memory?  NO! NO! NO!

 

I always worked extra hard in school.  I had a poor memory and knew it.  I was thrown under a dash when I was two and standing up in the front seat of the car.  This was before seat belts.  I am pretty sure it is the root cause of my neck problems, so possibly I hit my head also. 

 

I have literally gone blank several times, in my life.  I once dropped daughter-of-eleven off to get her hair done and when I pulled away from the curb, I was a blank slate.  The only thing I knew was that if I drove straight and left, I should get back to somewhere I knew.  Luckily, I was right.  I’m not even sure if I knew who I was.  Ironically, I do not remember now, what I did not remember then, either.  I do know that I had no idea where I lived, if someone had asked.  Fortunately, no one did. 

 

The other time was on the ski slopes.  It was kegger/college break week.  And, NO, I was not participating.  This is THE worse time to be on the slopes, and I was on a catwalk.  Catwalks make me nervous.  There is only one direction to go and people just fly on them.  I woke up lying down on the catwalk with a woman’s face inches above mine asking, “Are you alright?” 

 

Tell me why it is that when we fall down we are embarrassed?  It is not something we do intentionally.  And, in looking back at the incident, I do not believe that I fell down.  I think I passed out.

But, I immediately told her that I was just fine and then proceeded to get up and follow a stranger because, that time, I knew I had no idea who I was, where I was or even where I lived.  I followed the first man I saw looking at me, and who talked to me.  (This is a bad habit I have.)  He too asked me if I was alright and I followed him.  Lesson, girls, do NOT follow the first man who looks at you or inquires into your health.

 

However, it happened to be my husband and I asked him, “Do we live in Colorado?”  Now, mountains covered with snow all tend to look alike, from the standing-on them angle, but for some idiot reason, out of all the things I did NOT know, I knew we were in Colorado.  Then, I inquired as to whether my two daughters were with us?  A couple of questions like that and, quick fellow that he is, he cottoned onto the fact that I was definitely NOT alright. 

Fortunately, my memory lapse lasted only about ten minutes and was over by the time we found a medic.

 

I have gone to see two different neurologists and, after mega testing, been given two different diagnoses.  I’ve been on massive medication at times and gone into remission twice, with no medication.  Right now, I’m back to kind of seeing things in space again, but only at night, when I wake up.  It’s really an interesting life.  I enjoy my nighttime entertainment.

                                                                                             

Frankly, I think it helps me be an artist.  Or is this one of those, I’m an artist, therefore I am seeing things?

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Having been without health insurance for so long, and now being covered under the Healthy Indiana Plan, I have spent this last three months having everything done that could be done. Today, I do believe, I have found the humor in this whole situation and trust me, I am very grateful to Indiana for the insurance.

There was the Cardiologist who, after doing an ultrasound on my heart, told me that my heart was NOT damaged. I felt like I had been given a reprieve and also like he was either giving me a placebo talk or my brain is totally failing me. He says he has no idea where I got that idea. And, as I said after photographing the wedding, I am capable of much more than I thought I was.

Well, I came home from that doctor’s visit a new and energized woman. I’m not lifting weights yet but that is mostly because it is cold and they are on a screened in porch. After Gaffer returns to Santa Fe, they will be moved into his room: with the rabbit, the upright piano, the treadmill and all Gaffer’s stuff boxed up. That room is shrinking let me tell you.

Then, there was the visit to the Ophthalmologist. The Healthy Indiana Plan gives you gift cards for all sorts of things. I filled out an online questionnaire and got a $50 Barnes and Noble gift card. Gosh, they know the way to my heart. So, I signed up for a Health Coach.

Truth be told, I wanted to do it, the $100 gift card is icing on the cake, which I no longer eat because of the type 2 diabetes. I want to get healthy and strong again and I will do what it takes to get there. But, my personal health coach was more interested in my health problems and was concerned about my occasional blurry vision. Being Pre-diabetic, and she told me that they do not consider there is such a thing, you either are or you aren’t, she wanted me to have a retinal check. I went to the ophthalmologist, who declared my eyes free of diabetic damage however; I have cataracts that are just starting. My husband turns to me and says, “You are too young for cataracts.” He thinks a minute and then says, “No, I guess you aren’t.”

Is there humor in either of those situations? Sure, cataracts can be fixed and my husband, well, he was never been known for tact. Such as the time he stated that the actress on Burn Notice, is in fact sexy and does not look anorexic to him. My look told him never to say that again.

There is the hematologist who wants a DNA for Hemachromatosis. And, yes, HIP will pay for same if it is done because of a parent having the disease. My father died of Hemachromatosis and one family member has already tested positive on the DNA deal. I don’t mind blood sticks, so that one is a go.

I’ve had flu shots, shingles shots, ultrasounds, xrays, and now a DNA and visits with a cardiologist, hematologist, ophthalmologists and twice or more my G.P. But, tomorrow beats them all. It’s the dreaded colonoscopy.

I have, as anyone who has had this done, knows, spent the day drinking the most vile concoction and drinking every allowable drink possible to get the sneer off my face that has been there since 2:30 when I drank the Phospho-Soda the first time and discovering that there is no toilet paper, on the face of the earth, soft enough by 7:30pm.

Now, I drink water, listen to my stomach gurgle and drink more water, awaiting that midnight deadline where my mouth will become parched like the Sahara Desert and I will no longer be allowed even water. I will take a fast shower as there is something wrong with the water heater and wake up at an ungodly hour to go and wait two hours for the test.

Somewhere, somehow there is humor in all of this.

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Remember the Dick VanDyke show?  There was a great episode where he went to his son’s school, probably a “What does father do?” day. He was bombing.  Telling kids you write for a sit-com that is on later than they are allowed to stay up, did not impress them.  Then, he slipped and fell, and they laughed.  So, he started a monologue about what humor is.  It boiled down to one word:  the unexpected.  Okay, that’s two words but the first one doesn’t count.

 

My humor has been on hiatus lately.  I have exactly twenty-seven blog entries started.  I go through them every day; and edit and try to make them either more interesting or funnier.  But, lately I’m just on a dry spell.

 

I should be happy.  I think the world is going well and that leaves me without funny things to complain about.  Maybe, the starving artist that I am, just needs things to go wrong? 

 

My garret is too full of food.  I can have the heat up as high as I need as we are switching companies and have to empty the propane tank.  Since we will lose that propane anyway, it’s almost like having free heat; even though I break out in a sweat when I remember just how much that tank cost to fill.

 

I have health insurance now too, and I went to the cardiologist the other day and he said my heart is good to go.  There was no permanent damage done and I am clear to get running and lifting weights. Now, that might be funny once I get going.  I have been on the treadmill all week, except I forgot yesterday.  That’s the trick now, to get in the habit.

 

Gaffer is scheduled to come home for Christmas, which is always a joy.  And, he is taking visiting bunny back home with him.  At least that is the plan, for now.  That’s what they thought last visit too.  Also, news from him is that he is buying an upscale wardrobe.  Last Christmas EMT bought Gaffer a really nice leather jacket.  I think it influenced him to upgrade from “Charlie Harper cargo pants” to jackets and even a tie.  Perhaps he is getting ready to go out in the world now.  We will know if he ever gets his hair styled. 

 

EMT may join the Army.  He took some type of test and got 100% on it.  They have been courting him ever since. They pick him up in Nashville and take him to Bloomington, to their office, where I think they conduct secret experiments on him.  From my understanding, no one gets 100%. 

 

And JRock starts his guitar lessons today.  He is doing MUCH better in his classes.  The teachers tell me that a lot of kids have trouble when they start high school but a year and a half is a bit much.

 

So, life is going well.  But, tomorrow is always another day. 

 

 

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I came from a television family, my dad had the first television on our rural block and then studied, evenings, to become the local repairman. TV has been the background of my life.

 

Mom has a debilitating heart condition now and spends a ton of her day in front of the television. She cannot walk very far on her own and that has, needless to say, slowed her down considerably.  She has an electric buggy but does not use it much unless I am around, because mom never learned to drive. GASP!

 

Yes, children, there are people in the world who have never learned to drive.

 

When she was sixteen, her brother took her out in the farm yard to teach her. He later declared she had sideswiped a cow and was hopeless and never took her out again.

 

My dad acted like he was teaching her to drive, but only actually offered to teach her when she 1. Had a cake in the oven and couldn’t leave or 2. It was Christmas Eve and snowing; thus making sure she never learned. 

 

NO ONE drove my dad’s car (my brother and I were both taught to drive by our mates) and he was not going to make an exception for her. Beside, dad was rather of the belief that women are to be taken care of and not allowed to learn to think for their selves. Yes, a chauvinist extreme.

 

What does all this have to do with TV, you ask? Well, if mom was comfortable driving, she would be tooling all over Martinsville, Indiana in her scooter. She wouldn’t be afraid to enter the elevator with it. Getting in and out of the elevator is kind of scary yet and we work on that every time I am over. It is a tight turn.

 

But, for now, she sits and watches tv. She likes to watch “Little People, Big World” and “Some obnoxious woman and her beaten husband and their twin daughters, one of whom is an obnoxious child and the other who is ignored, and their sextuplets, many of which are brats.”  And, apparently, the whole family likes to hit each other on the head. I do not watch it, so I’m not as up on it as she is.

 

Secretly, I think mom likes it because the children are so out of control, and maybe the families are dysfunctional. The husband on “Little People…” overextends and leaves projects unfinished; thus reminding mom of my father, who measured shelves every year for twenty years and never did get the shelves put in until they were ready to sell the house.

 

I’m not sure why she enjoys bratty children? I plead the fifth.

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