As some may recall, and if you do not I am reminding you, that prior to early December, 2013 I was sailing smoothly through life with no major health incidents that would make me think that I was not going to live forever. In early December, 2013 I experienced a mild heart attack that made me reconsider my life style choices. . . for a while. After the initial scare was over, my good intentions slowly faded into the background. My promise to my self to eat right and to exercise were soon forgotten. The plan to go to cardio-rehab was scrapped as inconvenient. The plan to eat heart smart was scrapped as expensive and way less tastier than donuts. I slowly drifted back into my sedentary life style, continued to get fatter, and assumed I would still life forever.
But I still had this nagging in the back of my mind reminding myself that I will not lie forever, nor will I live a lot longer if I do not make some serious life style changes. So I committed. Following a suggestion from my son, T.J., I recalled having received a free gym membership as part of my AARP Medicare supplement package. The plan was called “Silver Sneakers” and it would allow me access to all the facilities I needed to restore this old body to its former glory. Soon I would have a body that would be turning every woman’s head as I strutted about the gym, or so I thought.
Day one at the Gym came, my son picked me up and off we went. Following a brief tour of the facility, I was ready to begin my adventure of acquiring my Joe Adonis physique. No more would I have to fear having sand kicked in my face. (If you don’t understand that reference then you are way younger than me). The first exercise I decided to try was something called the elliptical. This machine is intended to give a cardio-workout, exercise several muscle groups and to make the inexperienced look foolish and uncoordinated. I stepped on the machine and quickly discovered that I did not have time to look uncoordinated, but I am sure I did look foolish. In less than a minute my heart rate had shot up to 170 beats per minute. My first reaction was, after ignoring the pounding in my chest, the machine was broken. So my healthy and fit son stepped up and gave the machine a try. The machine reported his heartbeat correctly. The machine was not broken, I was. First my doughnut centric diet was trying to kill me and now also was the exercise. What was one to do?
Following this, I consulted with my heart doctor who arranged a stress test. This test revealed I had a new heart related condition known as Atrial Fibrillation, or AFIB for those in the in-crowd. I studied up on the ailment and discovered that the condition is caused by an irregular heartbeat. The heart beat is caused to run in a coordinated fashion by electrical impulses. As we all learned in high school biology, the heart is supposed to go lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub. My was going lub lub lub dub, lub lub lub lub dub dub, nothing, lub lub lubbity dub dub dub. I was told that the condition was quite common, that it may be controlled by medication, and many people lived a useful and productive life with it. Some people will just tell you anything, won’t they?
As it turned out, I was one of those people who was not able to be controlled by medication. While trying various medications I was able to learn new words, such as bradycardia, tachycardia, and ablation. I spent several scary hours in the ER as my heart rate kept getting slower and slower, finally bottoming out at 37 beats per minute. On to another medication.
In a following article I will discuss what happened next, and how it is that I am fortunate enough to be sitting here telling the story. I am doing this as a public service to help others, should they find themselves in the same predicament as I was. I have discovered that other people will tell you that it is no big deal, that the odds of surviving the condition are extremely good, and that you should have nothing to worry about. I feel the same way, as long as I am talking about their heart. My heart is a different story.
Those are my thoughts, what are yours?