Tag Archives: Congestive heart failure

Don’t Forget The Diet

“I saw many people who had advanced heart disease and I was so frustrated because I knew if they just knew how to do the right thing, simple lifestyle and diet steps, that the entire trajectory of their life and health would have been different.”-Dr. Oz

“Think about it: Heart disease and diabetes, which account for more deaths in the U.S. and worldwide than everything else combined, are completely preventable by making comprehensive lifestyle changes. Without drugs or surgery.”-Dean Ornish

One of the things that I have thought a great deal about since my heart attack is my diet. I have always exercised, but as an adult, my diet has been shit. I mean seriously, if you live in America, the choices you have to live a really, really bad lifestyle are endless. Taco Bell (used to be my favorite), McDonalds, BK, KFC and all of the rest contribute to a great deal of misery and unfortunately, death in this great nation of ours.

During the nine days I was in the hospital, I was able to do something that I don’t think I could have done if I was home. I actually detoxed myself off of sugar and any foods that are really bad for you. Since my daughter was home from school, I sat down with her and with the help of the internet, we figured out a diet that would suit my diabetes and heart condition. She spent (according to her) several days going through the house getting rid of anything that didn’t fall into the new plan of healthy eating.

So, after leaving the hospital, I went home not really sure if I was going to have the willpower to stick to a diet that didn’t include at least some of my favorite crappy foods. Fortunately, I think that since I was able to detox in the hospital, when I got home it was much easier to stay off of the garbage. Fourteen months later, I can say that I am still not eating the useless foods and have adopted what I think is a pretty good diet. I can also tell you that with the change in diet and the continued exercise, I feel better than I have in years.

After several months I found that although many of the recipes I was eating were really good for my diabetes, they were high in sodium, which isn’t great for the heart in regards to water retention.

So once again I went to the internet (Amazon this time), and I found an excellent cook book with recipes from the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association entitled, Diabetes and Heart Healthy Meals for Two.

The best thing about this book is that it runs the gamut of everything that you would want to eat, from soups and salads to meats, poultry, and vegetarian dishes. It also includes side dishes, breakfasts and dessert. Seeing as how it addresses both Diabetes and people with Heart Conditions, it makes a perfect cook book to use if you are trying to eat healthy.

Of course, I am not an expert in all things healthy, but I can tell you that I haven’t found any recipes that have not been edible. They’ve actually been really good.

Now the question that I have been wrestling with for these many months as I recover and also stay isolated from anyone who might kill me with COVID is this: If I had been eating better over the course of the last 30-40 years, would I have developed heart disease and diabetes? Although my mother had a bad ticker, it was her life long addiction to cigarettes that did her in.

One thing that you will never see me do is blame anyone but myself for my medical conditions. So many people these days spend their lives blaming everyone but themselves for the condition that they are in.
Only one person has that responsibility and blame and that person is you.

When I Return…

“After a day’s walk, everything has twice its usual value.”-G.M. Trevelyan

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”-Beverly Sills

“A walk in nature walks the soul back home.”-Mary Davis

 

So in my time being quarantined because of Covid and my recovery, I have been able to plan my eventual return to the woods. Being a little leery about going out for the first time, my hiking partner of well over twenty years has agreed to accompany me when that glorious time comes. I have decided that my return hike is going to be an old favorite.

Even though I have hiked Anthony’s Nose over 300 times over the years, I still love it and haven’t had the chance to hike it in a couple of years. As I have noted in other posts, one of the attractions to the Nose is that it is pretty much uphill the entire way there and downhill on the way back.  The views are excellent and if we go on a weekday morning, the crowds won’t be so bad. It is unfortunate, but on Friday’s, Saturday’s and Sunday’s, trying to hike in peace is impossible.

With that said, the views from the Nose are outstanding. Once you get to the top, it overlooks the Bear Mt. Bridge and Bear Mt. itself. On the way back (or the way there), you can also stop at another viewpoint that gives you excellent views north on the Hudson River.

Depending on how far you want to hike will determine where you start your trip to the Nose. For my return, we will begin and end on the AT at South Mt. Pass. This will be just about a 4-mile hike.

You may be asking yourself why I am telling you this and here is the reason why. I am going stir crazy being cooped up in my house! If I can’t actually get out into the woods, I’ll write about it.

For all of you that can get out, I salute you and take a hike for me!

HAPPY HIKING!!!

I’m Baaaaack…And Grateful To Be Alive!

“I’m as serious as a heart attack.”-Samuel L. Jackson

“Stress is a major component of cardiac events. It may not cause disease but can trigger a heart attack.”-Anonymous

Hey Folks,

I know that it has been a long time since I posted anything on this site. I am now officially retired from teaching as of 2:46 pm on 3/16/20.

So what am I doing with myself? Let me give you a little background.

First, I’ve had Congestive Heart Failure for just about six years. On December 26, 2019, I had a heart attack and spent nine days in the hospital. The doctors first thoughts were open heart surgery, but after several tests, it was determined that due to the weakening of my heart, I would not survive the surgery. So plan B went into effect. They ended up placing two stents in the arteries that run to the heart.

So, since January 3rd I have been just trying to get my heart stronger. I go to the gym six days a week and try to keep my stress level at a minimum. I have to admit that this has caused a dramatic shift in my lifestyle, especially what I eat. I have always exercised, but I’ve never really paid that much attention to the foods that I ate, Now, I eat tons of chicken, oatmeal, and everything is low fat, low sodium, and no sugar. I haven’t felt this good in a long time,  My cardiologist says with the exercise and vastly improved diet, I should be feeling better.

Now that I am retired, I have all of the time in the world to get to the point where I can back into the woods, hopefully, sooner rather than later. I’m not going to lie-I miss being out there. It has been months since I have felt the soft dirt under my feet, the warm sun on my face and the solitude of just being outdoors. At this point, however, I have to take it slow and listen to what my doctors say.

So what are they saying? I have to go back on 4/6 for an echocardiogram. At that point, I’m assuming they will make a decision as to whether or not I will need a defibrillator placed into my chest. Here’s hoping that they don’t!!!!

So my goals for the immediate future work hand in hand. I need to keep walking on the treadmill to get my heart stronger so I can get back out into the woods. At the same time, the goal is to also have my heart working at a rate where the defibrillator won’t be necessary.

 

Put One Foot In Front Of The Other

“Act as the master of your life by putting your health, well being and happiness first.”

-Mariana Olszewski

“If you learn to create the right kind of climate in your body, mind, and emotion, your health and wellbeing and joy-everything will be taken care of.”

-Sadhguru

Being a teacher, I am blessed every year with having summers off. Although won’t see any kids until after Labor Day, I do have to go in tomorrow and Thursday for meetings. Every year in June I make a pledge to myself that I am going to get out and hike as much as possible. To get out and really put in the miles, see the views and do hikes I have never done before. Unfortunately, this usually ends up not being the case. Many times life takes over and prevents me from getting the hikes in that I have always wanted to do. And believe it or not, my own laziness has stopped me as well! Now I’m not saying that I haven’t hiked during past summers, it just has never been at the volume I would have liked.

As the school year drew to a close this year I made the same pledge. This will be the year that I get out as much as I can to do as much hiking as I could fit into the summer! I’m not going to lie, this school year was a really stressful one and the summer has been even more so. I really needed to commit to this!!! 

One of the other things that not many people know is that in November of 2014 I was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure. Although I have always hiked and rode a stationary bike, this was not only a surprise, but a life changing diagnosis.

When I left the office that day, I thought that not only my hiking days were over, but my life as I knew it. I was really disheartened (no pun intended) at first when I was doing the stress test and did not even last 30 seconds on the treadmill. I knew that if I had continued I would have dropped. When I met with my cardiologist a couple of days later, we talked about the diagnosis and what it meant for me. I asked him when I could resume exercising and much to my surprise he said that I could do so immediately.

So here I am almost three years later. I have gone from not lasting 30 seconds on a treadmill to doing an 11 mile hike last week and completing 27 hikes to this point this summer.

Please don’t think that I am fishing for compliments or sympathy. I am simply pointing out that even in the darkest moments (thinking I was quite literally given a death sentence) that you can come back from that and resume an active lifestyle.

The most important thing to take from this is: All you have to do is put one foot in front of the other. At first it hurts and it sucks. We all have days where you don’t want to do anything, walk, ride, get out of bed. But you have to do it! I know for me the alternative was….well you can figure it out…