Tag Archives: hospital

Calculate Heart Attack Risk

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Do you know how these controllable risk factors affect your risk of heart disease, stroke and metabolic syndrome?

  • smoking
  • high blood pressure
  • high blood cholesterol
  • diabetes
  • being overweight or obese
  • physical inactivity

It’s essential that you measure your risk of heart disease and make a plan for how to prevent it in the near future. Use this tool to help you assess your risk of having a heart attack or dying from coronary heart disease in the next 10 years. It will also check to see if you may have metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors that greatly increase your chances of developing cardiovascular disease, including stroke and diabetes. This Risk Assessment can be use by people age 20 or older who do not already have heart disease or diabetes.

After you have finished using the tool, you can print a copy of your risk assessment results, risk factor summary report, metabolic syndrome assessment and action plans for those areas you need to work on in order to reduce your risk.

Learn your Risk Graphic Text

 

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/HeartAttackToolsResources/Heart-Attack-Risk-Assessment_UCM_303944_Article.jsp

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Strength and Power

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Thursday turned out to be the most amazing day I could have had. After a long sleepless night, I went to the hospital for my scheduled Cardioversion. Frightened and shaking I was directed into a room to get in a gown and hair cap and wait to go to the ICU for the procedure. The nurse came in and put the IV in my arm, she then allowed my hubby and Mrs. Geneva to come in to wait with me. Soon after the man came in to do the EKG to make sure everything was ok to continue. 

After about 5 min, the nurse came back in and to all of our surprise, and great delight, the EKG showed a regular rhythm. She said the cardiologist would be in to talk to me in a minute.  When he came in, I am not sure who had a bigger smile, me or him. He explained that it seems my heart has converted itself out of A-fib. This can happen in some cases, and we just have to keep monitoring it, in case it goes back into A-fib.

Of all the scenarios that I had run through in my head, all the possible outcomes I had imagined, this was never one of them. Wednesday evening I made sure to call my grandmother and my mother for comfort, to both them and myself. I prayed to Jehovah for the strength to endure whatever lay ahead. I never ask him for anything unreasonable, or place any ultimatums on him. I know that in life things will happen that are not as we wish them to, so I try to always just simply pray for strength and wisdom. I find it unfair to ask him to “make sure things go alright”, mainly for the reasoning that there is no planning the outcome just strength in traveling the path.  

As I was getting ready to leave for the appointment on Thursday morning, the phone rang and Mrs. Geneva called to make sure all was going ok and that she would meet us at the hospital and her and her family were praying for me. She also was so happy to tell me that my hubby’s Uncle Sam had called her the night before. This was such a great thing to her because Sam is a teacher and Elder in New York at the Jehovah’s Wittiness Headquarters, for him to take the time to call her and thank her for all she had done for us was very special. We hadn’t talked to Sam in a few weeks so he didn’t know that I was going into the hospital the next day, until Geneva told him. Not even 2 minutes after I hung up from Geneva’s call, Sam called to let us know that he and his wife were praying for me and hoped all would be alright. immediately after that call, the state of Louisiana called to let me know that my medicaid was finally approved and that all my hospital bills, dated back to January 1st, would be covered. It was such a weight off my chest to know that the $24k in bills that have been haunting me were finally taken care of. 

On the ride to the hospital I thought about how amazing it was that, of all days for Sam to call and introduce himself to Geneva, he called the day before my Cardioversion. At just the right moment he was directed to call me that morning when I needed a little extra strength and love. The power of this simple action brought tears to my eyes. At that moment I was sure that everything was going to be ok, and that I was being surrounded with all the support I would need for anything that lies ahead.

Thanks to the outcome of the EKG, and my heart converting on it’s own, I was able to just get dressed and return home. This also gave me the ability to attend the Memorial for the Lord’s Evening Meal at the Kingdom Hall that evening. This was to be my first Memorial, as I have just began to study in the last year. I was rather disappointed when my Cardioversion was scheduled for the same day, but I found the procedure far to important to re-schedule. To my joy and amazement, I was blessed with the ability to attend in the end. I am constantly amazed at the changes in my life since I have opened up to the power and love of god.

Such a wonderful, strengthening and amazing series of events that happened. What a great testament to the path I have been traveling. What better solidification of daily strength to continue this fight to eat, and live healthy. if the last 3 months of this journey has been able to result in the my heart accomplishing a conversion on it’s own, what is next? I will be excited to see what the results of my next Echocardiogram are in a couple months, will my heart be stronger?

I thank god for the strength, the power and the love that has been injected into my life and continues to empower me every moment!

The Waiting Game…Again…

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Once again I am sitting around the house, waiting for my appointment for my Cardioversion. I feel like I am stuck in a Groundhog Day scenario. Wasn’t I just here? Waiting for Thursday to come?

I keep thinking about the procedure. How will I react to the Propofal? How will I feel afterwards? Will it work? If it works, will it last?

The cardiology team said that if we wait too long, there is less chance that they can convert me out of A-fib. I keep thinking back on the end of the year, before I ended up in the hospital. I was sick for months, getting progressively sicker. My A-fib was diagnosed on January 1st, but I was sick a lot longer, so there is no real telling exactly how long I have been in A-fib. What if it has already been too long? What if this doesn’t work? What is next if this doesn’t work?

I have found myself just staring at my laptop, not really doing anything productive, just stuck in a zone. I can’t seem to focus on anything.  I can’t seem to find anything to successfully distract me and pass the time.

So many questions, that have no answers, but to just wait and see what haqppens….please God let Thursday come and be a success.

Cardioversion

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Last weeks blood work came back perfect. My cardiology team thinks we finally have the right dosages on my medications. My blood pressure has come up a bit, I am sitting around 95/56 most days. This is an acceptable range to go ahead with the cardioversion that had to be postponed. The procedure is scheduled for Thursday the 5th at 1pm.

Unfortunately this conflicts with the memorial at the Kingdom Hall that evening, but I decided that my health is more important and the longer we wait the less chance this will work. So Thursday I will be praying to Jehovah that this works and helps to improve my life even more than it already has been.

90 Days

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January 1st I was laying in an ICU unit attached to machines. I was faced with the daunting decisions of how to go forward and survive and live a full life, with heart failure. It seemed so overwhelming at first. When I came home, my head was swimming in all the guidelines I had been given, restrictions I had, and worries regarding how I would ever be able to follow it all. 

90 days later, I have found a great balance in my life, and managed to make it fun. What I thought was going to be a very hard task, giving up salt, caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes all at the same time, turned out to be a great adventure. I had to have a conversation with myself, did I want to live a long happy life, and fight my addictions? Was I strong enough to fight this fight every day, one day at a time for the rest of my life? Yes, I was! 

From the very start I have had to change my relationship with food. I have had to change my relationship with alcohol. I have had to change my relationship with life!  I have been determined to be a survivor, not let this condition disable me. If there are things that I can do to strengthen my heart and improve my quality of life, I am going to do it. 

I have strengthened my relationship with god. I have asked and allowed him to provide me with the strength to keep up this fight and to win the daily battles. This has opened my life to an amazing support system of people and teachings that give me faith in myself. I am not sure exactly what it is, but I am sure that god has a purpose for me, and this is all part of the process of learning and growing.

When it comes to the food in my life, at first, I thought it was going to be a long boring life of under seasoned food that was just necessary to live, but no longer fun. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I have had more fun, already, researching ingredients, reading labels, tasting herbs and spices, and finding the best resources for shopping. I quickly learned that this was neither a bland or boring way to cook or live. Soon after I started this lifestyle, my taste buds started to change and the foods began to taste better, the seasonings began to have a depth and flavor of their own. As my mind and body began to adjust and overcome the longstanding addiction to alcohol, so did my taste buds overcome their addiction to salt. I never knew how amazing natural foods tasted. never did I know the depths of flavor that herbs and spices have on their own.

I have for a long time have had a screen saver on my computer that I created that said “nothing tastes as good, as skinny feels”. I have had to change that because my relationship with my life has changed. I no longer live with the “diet” mentality, thinking constantly about all the things I can’t have, wishing I could have those things that I shouldn’t. I love the the things I eat, and even more I love the healthier steps I am taking in my life. Rather than being miserable, and gasping for air, and hoping I don’t die. I now live, create, smile, enjoy and look forward to everyday I have. I appreciate every little step in life and every accomplishment on a daily basis. My life is no longer a search for a buzz, a party, or comfort food  to forget my worries. My life is exactly what it should be, it is a Life that is being lived healthier, happier and will hopefully be longer and forever full of new foods, spices and fun. 

Busy, Busy, Busy….

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It has been a couple days since I posted, Sorry about that. I have been feeling much better the last few days since Dr. Hanna lowers some of my medication. I haven’t been getting dizzy and no blurry vision, YAY! My blood pressure is coming up a little, this morning I was up to 103/65, this is a huge improvement from the 64/44 i was at a week ago. I go do blood labs tomorrow, so we will find out how my kidneys react to the medication changes. I get short of breath really fast, and my heart races faster since the changes, but at this point I would rather breath heavy then not be able to see. I sure hope the blood pressure stabilizes soon and they can do the cardioversion. Then maybe I can have even less symptoms to deal with.

Since I have had more energy and the ability to move around more, I got some house cleaning done, some good grocery shopping done (I actually made it through the whole store without losing my vision) and been able to do some rearranging around the house. it feels so good to be able to get up and do something!

Saturday was weekly bible study, and Sunday I was well enough to get up and make it to the Kingdom Hall for Watchtower Study. I always feel so much better about my ability to fight this health battle when I get to make it to fill my spiritual plate. Just being around such positive people and learning all the great things the bible has to offer makes it easier to get through each week. I thank god all the time for each day I manage to get through with out a set back. It is certainly by the grace of god that I have had the strength to quit smoking, drinking, caffeine, and salt all at the same time. Many people struggle each day with just one of those battles, I have managed to endure all four battles for 86 days now. I know that I by no means have been fighting alone, and I appreciate it every day.

I am also very excited to say that I have enrolled in an online Bachelor degree program. Since my mother works for Charter College, I can use their family waiver program and complete my degree online for free. I figured that as long as I can’t work, and am stuck at home with all this extra time on my hands, I may as well be learning something. I decided on Business and technology. I will be learning things like computerized accounting systems, e-commerce, project management and employment law. I am a sick individual and these subjects all have me very excited.

I have a few things in the works in the kitchen, I will port them as soon as I get the last tweaking of preparation right. I also have had requests for a list of some of my favorite no sodium seasonings and spice mixes…these are also soon to come.

Hope you all had a blessed weekend

 

Well Nevermind

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The doctor just called and cancelled the cardioversion for tomorrow. Apparently there is a problem with my kidneys in my blood work, and my blood pressure is too low to safely put me under sedation.

So for now it is a medication adjustment to try and stabilize the kidneys and BP and then back to the scheduling board for a safer time. I’m sure I will have more to say about this avter I process the last minute change in my plans…but for now

I guess I will go into the kitchen and cook something fun, since I don’t have to fast 🙂

T-minus 24 hours

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It is the countdown, tick, tick, tick. The final 24 hours before I go in for my Cardioversion. In the rational side of the brain I know it is a simple procedure, they do it all the time. I know there is only a slim chance that anything will go wrong. The rational side of my brain is only part of the equation. It is the irrational, emotional side that won’t stop thinking about all the “what if’s”

 

I have never been put to sleep before. I have talked to people that have resistance to anesthesia, and others that have trouble waking up. I don’t know how I will react to it. On the other hand there is the actual procedure. Will it even work? The cardiologist said that, with an EF of 35%, I am right on the edge of the guidelines to even try and convert. There is a chance it won’t work. There is also a chance it will only work for a short time and then we will have to do it again.

 

In January, when I went in for my angiogram, I talked to a woman who was there for a pacemaker. She had had cardioversion done 23 times in 7 years. This tells me logically that it is a common procedure, and also that it may have to be done every few months.

 

There is that nervous part of me that wonders if I should take the time to write down instructions and wishes, just in case something goes wrong? Should I make sure to call all the important people just to say I love you? Is it irrational to think of these things?

 

I really want it to work. I want to get some sense of normal back in my life. I want to go out and walk the dog. I want to play at the river. I want to go shopping in the French Quarter. All these things I can’t do now because I get so tired so fast and my vision fails me.

 

Please just let me go back to being a 33 year old woman with her whole life ahead of her. If this is some thing that I have to do over and over every few months, at least it should be easier after this first time, when I already know what to expect.

Missing Some Freedom

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Haven’t had much energy the last few days. It took all I had to write a post for you all yesterday. Just looking at the computer screen made my eyes strain and my vision go blurry. This is a problem I usually have when I get up and move around, this is the first time I have had it just sitting down. 

Been spending most my time in bed or on the couch this weekend. Hubby is great and won’t let me get up to do anything other than go to the potty. He is very worried, I can see it in his face. My blood pressure has been really low all weekend, averaging 75/44. The doctor has said on many occations that my low blood pressure is normal, dur to the medications I am on. Though it is usually low, this is a little lower than usual, so I have planned to make a call to my cardiologist tomorrow. 

We have adjusted my medication almost weekly, to try and get the right balance for my blood pressure, and my dizzy spells and vision problems. Eventually it has to all work out right. I just try to hold my head high and keep faith that it will all work out.

I really hope that the cardioversion takes care of some of these problems. It is so hard to be so young and full of energy, but not have the ability to get up and do all I want to do. Just the simplest activity and I start to lose my vision. It is like having a huge spotlight shinning in your face. Everything get’s super bright, and I can’t make out details on anything. I can see colors, but no faces, or specific shapes, I can’t read when it happens, and of course because of this I can’t safely drive anymore. 

It is hard to come to grips with the loss of such things. I have always been independent, I have always been the driver. From the time I started delivering pizza after high school, to the year trying my hand at cross-country truck driving, being behind the wheel has always been relaxing to me. Anytime I needed to relax I could just put on music and go for a drive. This has to be what I miss most. 

I was never a runner, of a sports player, or even an outdoor type person so it doesn’t bother me to much that the outdoors activities are so treacherous to me now. Just the fact that I can’t go off on my own and take a long country drive and clear my head…it isn’t the same when you have to be driven around. When you have a driver with you, it isn’t the same, you can’t just cry, or scream, or pray…you don’t have the freedom you do when it is just you alone.

This is what I honestly miss the most sometimes.

I Have Always Been A Fighter

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Lets start with where this lifestyle started.

I currently am being treated for Dilated Cardiomyopathy , Congestive Heart Failure and Atrial fibrillation

Basically, in terms easiest to understand, the left side of my heart is enlarged and damaged, the top of the heart is beating irregularly and too fast, and the heart can not pump enough blood to run my whole body correctly…..I know it sounds like I should have one foot in the grave, but I am way to stubborn for that.

I have always been a fighter. I have always credited my mother for that. She is the most positive, upbeat, strong woman I know. She has taught me a lot about how attitude effects how you feel. She is a 2 time cancer survivor. All through her chemotherapy she kept a smile on her face, and didn’t miss a step. Sure there were days that she was a little green, but she was always at work setting a positive example for her employees. There were days they would have to just close her office door, because it was easier than watching her look weak, but she was always there fighting and not letting cancer take control of her life. From the time she was diagnosed and began treatment she never said she had cancer, she always considered herself a cancer survivor.

That is the attitude I want to emulate. I could just sit around and be sick. I could just feel bad, be depressed, and wait for this to kill me. It would be too easy to give up. Not me, Not now, Not ever!! I am fighting, I am living, I am going to beat all odds, I am going to help others fight!

On January 1st 2012, I went to the emergency room and the Electrocardiogram showed that I was in A-fib and I was admitted into the ICU, the next day my Echocardiogram revealed an Ejection Fraction of 20%. Common guidelines generally consider an EF below 20% to be terminal and below 18% to be grounds for being put on the transplant list. Luckily I have never been anything close to common, nor do I ever follow normal guidelines. What would be the fun in that, right? Who wants to be common? I want to be the extraordinary, the one that the doctors talk about, the one that blew all the guidelines out of the water.

After 6 days, I was released to go home to a very scared hubby, and dog that was very happy to see me. After about a half hour of face kisses, big hugs and some tears, the adventure began! I now had 7 prescription medications to take daily. Coreg 25mg twice a day, Aldactone 25mg daily, Lasix 80mg twice a day, Benazepril 20mg daily, Aspirin 81mg, Pradaxa 150mg twice a day and Nitroglycerin in case of chest pain or emergency. My counter looks looked like I was either 90 years old or just robbed a pharmacy. Taking the medications was going to be the easy part of this journey, the hard part was yet to come, changing how I lived my entire life.

The things I was told to do by my cardiology team (yes I have a whole team) were clear. Don’t over exert your heart, but do get a little movement each day to try and build some strength. No Caffeine at all, this means no caffeinated soda, tea, coffee, and even no chocolate. Yes you heard it, NO CHOCOLATE. Apparently this lovely creamy sugary friend that most us women love so much has a natural amount of caffeine in it and it was now off limits. NO alcohol, it is a Vasodilator so it makes your heart race, and mine already does that on it’s own. NO smoking, it also speeds up the heart rate. Eat healthy and slim down, the smaller you are the harder your heart has to work to run your body and organs. Most importantly, and the item that was stressed the most to me every day of my stay in that hospital bed….NO SALT!!

The normal dietary guidelines for sodium in a 2000 calorie diet is approx. 2300mg per day. A basic low sodium diet is suggested to be 1500 – 2000mg sodium per day. Then there is the regulation for food labels. You may ask What is low sodium on a food label? Well this a start, but my team put me on a “Very Low Sodium” diet. The basic thing my team told me was, to read labels, and avoid processed food. Do not buy or eat anything with over 120mg sodium per serving. Items with between 60-120mg per serving limit to 4-6 servings per day. Items below 60mg per serving go ahead and eat. Fill your meals with lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat. Avoid canned and packaged foods, processed meats and cheeses, and always read labels. Always remember if it tastes salty it probably is.

How in the world was I going to be able to have the strength to quit, smoking, drinking, and eating processed foods and salt, ALL at the same time. People always say how hard it is to cut out one thing, is it possible to do it all? I am sure going to give my best fighting try!

It is now 67 days since I got home from that hospital stay, but for all intensive purposes the changes started on January 1st when they put me in ICU, and I have not had a drink, smoke, caffeine or over 1000mg of sodium or even over 1200 calories in a single day. It is getting easier every day. I have lost 27 pounds since I got home and started this life. Tomorrow I will let you in on how I started the changes, and we will start working on the ways to love them and keep the lifestyle going.

My heart is still very damaged, I still have very little energy, I have weekly trips to my cardiologist, I have procedures scheduled to try and fix some of the problems……. but I am always fighting! As long as there is a fight to be had…I will be on the front lines of my battleground for survival!