Tag Archives: heart attack

Your Physical And Mental Health Count

“Never discredit your gut instinct. You are not paranoid. Your body can pick up on bad vibrations. If something deep inside of you says something is not right about a person or situation, trust it.”-Anonymous

I’ve had a great deal of time since 12/26/19 to think about my new situation and how it has changed my life. An overhaul of my diet, including the total elimination of sugar and fried foods, has changed my physical outlook on life.

Your mental well being, however, is something that they don’t really talk about. When I was in the hospital I got tons of information about the physical side of my recovery. In a small side note on one of the pages, it did mention something about seeking help if you needed it, but that was about it. I did have a colleague who asked me about my mental state commenting that her husband had been depressed after he had his heart attack.

I, however, never felt depressed. Instead, I almost felt reborn as if I had been given a second chance at life. If you think about it, since my odds of surviving open-heart surgery were slim, I really have been given a second chance. I honestly could not think of a reason to wallow in self-pity, instead, I chose to tackle my new life head-on.

Is it sometimes difficult to stay motivated? Of course it is. I would be lying to you if I said it wasn’t. But at the end of the day, I’m only 55 and I am hoping that I still have some good years left in me before I venture to the great beyond.

They say that up to 20% of heart attack survivors suffer from depression. What do I wish I had been told prior to leaving the hospital? Here is a shortlist that I got from the Cleveland Clinic.

  • Your negative feelings, such as low mood or lack of experiencing pleasure, persist daily for 2 weeks or more.
  • You find it increasingly difficult to participate in your recovery from heart disease. It is not uncommon for patients participating in cardiac rehabilitation to experience emotional difficulties during their physical recovery. A lack of mental drive or motivation, as well as a lack of confidence may indicate that depression has settled in.
  • You have significant difficulty with your daily routine, social activities and/or work.
  • You don’t have anyone in whom you can confide. If you don’t have anyone to share your thoughts with, it’s hard to know if what you’re thinking makes sense. Depression also has a tendency to make people more withdrawn and isolated, making it harder to receive social support during difficult times.
  • You have suicidal thoughts or feelings. Suicide is an irreversible solution to problems and causes permanent harm not only to yourself, but also to family members and friends. If you are having thoughts of suicide, call your physician or local 24-hour suicide hotline right away, or go to the nearest emergency room for help.

The most important thing is to remember that if you have survived a heart attack you have been given a second chance. Fight every day to improve both your physical and mental health so you can enjoy every day.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

 

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!!!

It’s Time To Get Back In The Saddle

“Life is short. Go to the mountains and never look back.” -Anonymous

“Having a heart attack felt nothing like how I thought it would feel.”-Anonymous  

This whole Covid virus is really screwing up the start of my retirement. My goal, as small as it may be, was to be at a point now where I could be out hiking. But thanks to the virus, it has not gone exactly as planned.

Ever since I left the hospital on January 3rd, I have had to wear a portable defibrillator just in case I go into cardiac arrest. Originally I was only supposed to wear it for 45 days and then the decision would be made as to whether or not I would need a permanent one implanted, stay with what I have or nothing at all.

What are the factors to get me to one decision or another? It’s something called Ejection Fraction. What is that you may ask?

Ejection fraction (EF) is a measurement, expressed as a percentage, of how much blood the left ventricle pumps out with each contraction. 

When I had my heart attack, my EF was 8%. A normal EF for adults over the age of 20 is between 53% and 73%. Can your EF be improved? According to my cardiologist as well as what I have researched the answer is yes.

So for 6 months now I have done many things to help improve my EF. I still exercise at least six out of seven days per week, I don’t eat sugar and I also adopted a low sodium diet. The result is a decent amount of weight loss. I also take many medications to address my heart failure.

Now here is the interesting part. Although I complain about not being able to hike because of the virus, being locked down has actually helped in adjusting to my new life. The nine days that I spent in the hospital helped me detox from all of the crap I had been eating and having everything closed prevented me from slipping back into my old eating habits.

So on July 15th I finally go back to my doctor for an echocardiogram. I am hoping that at this appointment I will be given a more concrete plan on how to proceed. It is my hope that I either don’t need any type of defibrillator or they will implant one. The wearable one that I have now is a huge pain in the ass.

Until then, I’ll just keep on keeping on!

HAPPY HIKING!!!

 

The Strangest Dream…

“Dreams, if they’re any good, are always a little bit crazy. ”
― Ray Charles

“Promise me you’ll never stop dreaming.”
― Melina Marchetta

One thing that being cooped up in the house is that it has given me ample time to live in my head. To not only think about the last five months but what I can expect in the future. Since I have not written pretty much anything since being hospitalized in late December/early January, I’m going to spend some time just writing about the crazy shit that has been residing in my head. Feel free to comment!

When I could sleep, the dreams came like clockwork. However, sleep did not come easy during the nine days that I was in the hospital. Blood being drawn every two hours, the coughing and crying of the patient next to me who appeared to be waiting for death and the visits from a multitude of doctors made a heavy and necessary restful sleep almost impossible. But I always knew that at some point during the day or night I had slept because I could remember the dreams.

They were always the same. I would start a hike at South Mountain Pass that would take me to Anthony’s Nose. Although the hike is about four miles round trip and easier than most, I could feel a sense of dread as I made my way up the trail. Each step, laboriously taken to avoid wet rocks and branches, became more and more difficult as I made my way up the trail. The sun disappeared behind the clouds and the vegetation on the ground and the trees themselves had changed. At the parking area, I was surrounded by lush green leaves and beautiful flowers. Now, all of the vegetation was dead and the sense of dread was much worse. Each time that I had the dream, I would walk a little further and after being enveloped in darkness, I would wake up.

After leaving the hospital, the dream never returned.

I have thought about it over the course of the last few months and I can’t figure out any answers as to the meaning of the dream. Any thoughts?

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.