Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Lessons in Gratitude....

Hmmmm.....never published this blog.... So I will publish it today :)
I love this bush in my mom's yard
A couple of weeks ago I visited my cardiologist for my 6 week post heart attack progress report. The week prior to that visit I had a repeat cardiac echocardiogram to evaluate if my heart was headed in the right direction towards recovery. I was a bit anxious about this appointment, which is normal I guess. I just wanted to hear that my heart was getting better in regards to ejection fraction which measures the hearts ability to pump effectively. During the echo, I pressed the technician to give me some preliminary numbers since it would be a week before I would get my results from my doc. Reluctantly the technician shared her observations which put my ejection fraction at around 50% (normal is b/w 55-60%). During the heart attack my EJ was about 45% due to the stunned nature of the muscle around the tip of the heart. The technician did remind me that the doctor is the expert, not her and that I had nothing to worry about.

I was PISSED with the news the technician gave me and left the office in such an angry state I could hardly concentrate when I went to work. I was expecting significant positive changes, like a completely healed heart. I was so messed up in my head with the news that I left work early and went home as I could feel my heart rate rising with my anger and anxiety. I drove the hour home to help me relax but I just got worse. By time I pulled into my driveway my heart rate was racing around 136 and I was feeling light headed. Was I actually having an anxiety attack?. I was feeling sooooo bad that I walked to Krogers (which is practically in my back yard) to go to a machine to take my blood pressure.  I sat down and tried to relax a bit before I took my pressure. With no relaxation in sight I went ahead and took my BP which was 158/109. So with this number my anxiety shot through the roof and I started getting light headed and all that stuff so I got in my car a drove myself to the ER. I sat in my car thinking about all the time I would have to spend in the ER as the drew my labs and ran several tests that I had weeks earlier. I also thought about the stress I was putting on my heart at that moment (from anxiety) So instead of rushing into the ER I decided to RELAX while I was in the car. I pushed my seat back, took some deep breaths and called my husband. We talked through my situation and both agreed that I just needed to go home, lie in the bed, relax, and take a nap. I went home and did just that. I napped for about an hour and then watched some YouTube makeup videos when I woke up. I was feeling much better so I walked to Krogers to re-check my BP and it was 97/ normal. 

I learned a TON and am grateful for this experience. I learned just how much my mind can control my symptoms and what stress can do to the body. At this point I realized that I could mentally push myself into another heart attack if I was anxious and stressed out enough. Illness/injury plus stress can equal grave consequences. Through all my years of nursing I never truly appreciated the affects of stress on the body...especially a body in a weakened state.   I took care of many patients with anxiety and panic attacks but never appreciated the potential acute or accumulative toll on the body.

So, I was good to myself the rest of the week. I slowed my walking down a bit and I did everything I could to remain stress free. 

I finally had my appointment with my cardiologist and he came in with a big smile and told me my heart is back to normal. He also went on to state that I can start doing whatever I wanted at this point. Perplexed, I asked him if I could start lifting heavy weights and he replied, if you want to. What?????? He would not give me my ejection fraction numbers, he just told me not to worry and my heart was back to normal. I was super stoked about the news, but cautious too as he refused to give me my numbers. How arrogant!!! So I called my cardiac rehab physiotherapist and told her the news. She was surprised too that he said I could do we planned to incorporate weights slowly into my cardiac rehab sessions. I had my first weight training session on Tuesday and this is what we did:
- 7 minute warm-up on treadmill at 3% incline and at a rate of 3.0 mph
- 3 sets of squats with an 8 pound bar
- 15 minutes cardio on Aire Dyne bike
- 3 sets of body weight dips off a chair
- 3 sets of bicep curls wit 20# Dumbbells 
-15 minutes treadmill workout at 3% incline and 3.5 mph
- 3 sets of deep lunges with 5# Dumbbells 
- 3 sets of overhead  shoulder presses with  5# Dumbbells immediately after lunges
- sitting stair stepper at 7/10 resistance for 10 minutes
-Then a 6 minute cool down on this bogus sitting and pedaling machine with arm motion

My heart was having all kinds of skipped beats during this session...which is unusual, so the stress of the weights did affect my heart just a a bit, but I stayed primarily in my exercising HR of 130 with the exception of the last set of lunges and presses which bumped my HR to 140 and Kellie my therapist promptly told me to bring it down some.

I was soooo excited by that session that I gave my therapist a fist bump and was on cloud 9 all day. I was BEAT the entire workday and went home and hit the sack a little after 8.  I was sore from that session. BTW....I have cardiac rehab for 45-60 minutes 3 times a week. I had a day off and then had another regular cardiac rehab session (no weights) and was drained....

This week I plan to incorporate another session just the same to see if my heart has adapted to the additional stress as evidenced by far less skipped beats. If that happens, I may incorporate an additional weight training only session on my own...which would have me exercising 4 times a week on cardio machines....yeah baby!!!!!

So what did I learn this past week? THAT STRESS EXACERBATES ILLNESS BY A TON!!! That was a GREAT lesson for me.

My daughter Jessica and her boys

My granddaughter  Karmen

Our dog Polo after getting internal and external stitches

Diet is still going gluten. My weight loss has stalled but I am ok with that. 

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