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Posts Tagged ‘Atrial Fibrillation’

The end of day two and the middle of day three…   End of week 1 already looks to be in sight!
Morning weight: 365lbs. (on Day 3)
I am down “6/8”.  As in, 6lbs down from yesterday and 8lbs down from my fasting start weight:  373lbs (morning of Day 1).  Obviously, a 6lbs weight loss in a single day and 8lbs over two days is not sustainable.  It was mostly stomach content (digesting solid foods) and some water weight.  Most adults hold between 7lbs and 15lbs of stomach content, so the first few days of any “cleansing” diet will be mostly the elimination of that content.  Most fruit juice and veggie juice diets tend to be “cleansing” diets by default.  So, the loss was expected and no big deal.  Losses of 1/2lb to 1-1/2 lbs per day tend to be more realistic (from my experience).  Managing the fasting to stay near the bottom end of that range (.5lb / day) is where the “art” of fasting comes into play.  Most of that “art” is listening to your body tell you what it wants / needs.
Yesterday I walked the dog (30 minutes) and went for a swim (60 minutes, Breast Stroke.  44 lengths X 25 yards == 1,100 yards.  18 laps == 1/2 mile. 1 lap == 2 lengths.)  The swim felt much more difficult than normal because I felt like I ran out of energy about 45 minutes through.  After that it (swimming) was just a gut check to finish the time.  Anyway, I got it done.
I was very tired for most of yesterday, but the flip side of that was I felt I got a good night’s sleep.  My FitBit (FB) doesn’t really agree with that assessment, but whatever.
I have a FitBit Blaze.  It’s my second FitBit.  The first was a hand-me-down belt attachment, which I only used for a couple of months.  I didn’t feel it was accurate and it was difficult to remember to keep moving it between clothes.  My latest (the Blaze) is a wrist-watch style and was a present from my daughter (Rebecca) for Christmas 2017.  So, I’m about halfway through my second year of wearing it.  I got it more as a Heart Rate (HR) tracker, but it is only of limited use in that regard.
My Blaze is VERY accurate on providing my current heart rate.  Since I suffer from Atrial Fibrillation (AFib), this is important for me to marry up with my sensations of palpitations.  This allows me to exercise cautiously.  The problem I have with the Blaze is it actually doesn’t record your heart rate by the minute.  I downloaded and reviewed my HR for the first couple of months and found the information was recorded at set intervals which have nothing to do with AFib or exercise.  I don’t remember (this was Jan / Feb of 2018) anymore what the interval (5m, 10m or 15m) was, but I remember being dissatisfied enough to stop downloading the tracking.  I don’t expect 60 second per minute tracking, but this seems to me to be periodic “snapshotting”, not tracking.  As a person who also suffers (a bit) from Obsessive / Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and from years of practicing “you can’t manage what you don’t measure”, you can kind of guess at my initial level of frustration.  LoL.
My second “issue” with the Blaze is that it doesn’t “stay” on what it’s set to do.  I swim.  The Blaze doesn’t “track” swimming.  This means I have to tell it I’m “working out” to get it to track my HR an calorie effort while swimming.  Fair enough.  The Blaze doesn’t support swimming and it says so in the documentation and on the company web site.  The site says the Blaze is “water resistant”, which means okay for heavy sweat and a quick shower, but not bathing or swimming.  In fact, over this last 20 months I’ve used it while swimming for over 150 hours and never had a single problem.  Well, almost none.  Remember the “staying” mentioned above?  Randomly, when water brushes against the Blaze it turns off or pauses the tracking.  The result is I am forced to pause between pool lengths to check if it is still tracking.  Yeah, that’s annoying.  I guess that’s what you have to live with to enjoy touchscreen activation.
This is my first wrist-based HR monitor and other than the two bits mentioned above I REALLY like my Blaze and I would definitely recommend anyone looking into buying a HR monitor consider FitBit’s line of products.  Having said that, I don’t think I will replace it when it finally dies.  One, the Blaze is no longer offered by FitBit.  Two, I feel their products are inordinately expensive.  The regular cost was $150.  My daughter got it as at a closeout price of $99.  Maybe it’s just the dinosaur in me, but I can’t see paying $100-$150 for a watch with a pedometer and a HR tracker – particularly if the tracker doesn’t really “track”.   In fairness to FitBit, their newer models DO “track” swimming as an exercise, but since I don’t own one of the newer models, I can’t speak to how they do it or how functional it is when doing the tracking.  But, if you are in the market for a good Heart Rate monitor, I guess you’ll get what you pay for.
Well, those are my thoughts about Day 2…  I hope I haven’t bored you all too much and you’ll come back for (and enjoy) some of these longer posts.
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On This Day In:
2018 Ryan, McConnell & The Republican Controlled Congress
The Proud Dad
Day 35: Five(5) Weeks Completed!
2017 Serving Is Proving Harder Than Winning For #DumbDonald
2016 Come Again…
2015 At Five
2014 Touching The Past
The Supreme Question
2013 Children Will Judge
2012 Liar, n.
2011 Freedom To Doubt

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The end of day six and the start of day seven…
The last 24 hours was a bad day which may have had nothing to do with the fast.
Yesterday felt like a real good day.  I felt good getting up.  I walked the dog and even went for a late morning jog to end day 5.  After noon, I started day six still feeling pretty good.  I even went for an evening swim (tread water for 60min).  Except while in the pool, my heart started palpitating.  This happened multiple times during the time in the water.  When I got home, I took my blood pressure (BP&HR) and pulse and found I was in active AFib.  Generally, this means my heart is beating erratically.  In my case, too rapidly (accelerated) and not with regular timing (sinus rhythm).
This is all quite “normal” for me.  I tend to go into and out of AFib often if not regularly.  Most times I feel the palpitations for a minute or two and then they go away.  This time they didn’t…  Go away.  In my particular form of AFib, my heart doesn’t accomplish a full beat.  It flutters.  This means I have “stale” blood in my heart and / or in my cardiovascular system.  When blood doesn’t circulate, it tends to clot after a bit of time –  usually about 4 to 7 minutes.  If the clot stays in your heart it may block other blood and then you have a heart attack.  If the clot moves or a chunk of it breaks off and runs around your body, then lodges, you have a stroke.   Depending on where the clot lodges, that’s how serious the stroke is.
What does one do about this?  Well, I mostly wait.  I wait to see if I will get additional or continuing symptoms.  I wait to see if I drop back into normal heart rhythm on my own.  If I get more symptoms or I’m in AFib for too long, I go to the Emergency Room (ER).  This is what happened to me in the last go round.  The rhythm never reverted back to normal and it lasted almost three days.  When I finally went in, the doctors ended up giving me an electro-cardio inversion treatment.  Basically, they electrocuted me to stop and restart my heart with the hope that: 1)  it will restart; and, 2)  that the heart with come back with a normal pulse rhythm.  Mine did.
Day 6’s palpitations (the AFib) lasted all through the night and finally ended about 4:30 pm this afternoon (into Day 7).  The good news is I have been checking my BP&HR almost every hour since then and it’s now after 9:30pm and I’m still in normal sinus rhythm.  So, it looks like I’ve dodged the bullet another time…
Tomorrow at noon is the end of day 7 of my juice fast.  This is the goal I set myself when I started this (juice fast) last week.  This morning’s weight:  363lbs.  That’s down 2lbs from yesterday where I stalled and didn’t lose any weight from the prior day.  As of this morning, that’s 17lbs down from the starting weight of 380lbs.  And, again, subtracting out the “assumption” weight (10lbs), I’ve now lost 7lbs in six days.  I am feeling good and have enough veggie juice to last me at least until Monday which would make it a round 10 days of juice fasting.  I think from here on I will take it one day at a time and just see how far I can go.  At the minute, I feel like I can make the 10 day mark with no problem…
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On This Day In:
2017 The Soul Of Victory
2016 Getting Furrowed?
2015 Pretty Good So Far
2014 Still Learning?
There Ain’t No Thing Like Me, ‘Cept Me!
2013 Little Lives
2012 Evolution
2011 Excellence At Performance = 10,000 Hours
2009 A Brief Poem…
Crater Lake Trip with James

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Last Friday (10 November 2017), I entered continuous AFib (Atrial Fibrillation).  This is a condition where your heart has a kind of loose electrical connection, and the top part of your heart (the atria) fails to pump smoothly – essentially it flutters (fibrillates).  If left unattended, the flutter can cause your blood to pool in your heart and eventually the pool coagulates and forms a clot.  Then, since your heart is still beating,  your heart can push the clot to other parts of your body and you can end up with a heart attack (if the clot lodges in your heart) or stroke (if it lodges in your brain).  The clot can cause various other issues depending on where it finally settles.  (Obviously, the is a VERY simplified explanation).
Anyway, I hoped it (my heart) would revert to a normal rhythm on its own.  It did not, so Tuesday (14 Nov 2017) I went to see my cardiologist, who in turn, admitted me to the hospital for electrical cardioversion.  Basically, they hit your heart with an electric charge which “in effect” re-boots the electrical system of the heart.  Yes, it stops your heart, but only for a fraction of a second (everyone hopes).
The procedure (yesterday – 15 Nov 2017) was successful (big shout-out to all the staff, nurses and doctors at John Muir Hospital in Concord, CA) and I was sent home with my heart in normal rhythm.  I’ll be chilling out for the next few days / week to make sure I don’t slip back into AFib and then I have to concentrate on dieting and exercise to lose weight and strengthen my heart.
Knock on wood…  That’s the plan, anyway.  In the meantime, it’s no added salt, adjusting to lots of new pills and it’s back to being a “blood-thinned” hemophiliac.  Still, it is much better than the alternative…  Please keep me in your prayers (if you are that way inclined).
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On This Day In:
2016 And Bloggers?
2015 Ethical Energy
2014 Are You Likely To Defend It?
2013 Might As Well
2012 The Long And Short Of It
2011 Bravery

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Today’s visit to the cardiologist brought very good news — my heart rhythm has reverted from atrial fibrillation back to a normal rhythm!! This means (if I’m lucky) in three weeks or so I may be able to come off of Coumadin and go back to regular aspirin.  If that happens, no more hemophilia!  Back to eating dark green vegetables with loads of vitamin K.  (Wait a minute, is that last one a good thing or a bad thing?)
Tonight, after work, Hil and I went for a nice long walk around the neighborhood.  We spent about 45 minutes out – puffing and chatting, chatting and puffing.  It was not as long as our usual walks, but we made up for it with a little more pace than normal.  (Hil says she was NOT puffing and I talked for both of us…)
Rebecca called with a virus problem.  I talked her through installing a virus protector and started off cleaning her PC.  It will probably take several hours, so I left her to it.
I had a play with this blog and discovered how I can see who has subscribed to my blog.  I also dropped Becky’s old photo blog from my links and added her new one (and subscribed to it).  Here’s the link for anyone interested:  Becky’s Blog
Rebecca is the third person to have a Gravatar appear on my site.  I had a fourth, but it seems to have fallen off. I’m not sure why, as it (he) was a subscriber.  I can only imagine he must have dropped the subscription.  I also noticed the Gravatars only appear when you show the full posting.  They don’t appear if there is a historic list / summary.  And I still haven’t figured out how to get the subscribers to appear at the bottom of my blog home page.  I guess there’s a widget or something.  More to learn on another day…
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First off, I need to give a big shout out of thanks to the Doctors, Nurses and staff at Mount Diablo Medical Center!!  Without you I would not be here tonight blogging…
If you’ve been following this blog for the last few entries, you’ll know I was supposed to go on a 120 day assignment for work back to Baltimore, Maryland.  My flight and room had been arranged and my bags were packed…
On Friday (7 January ’11), I started feeling palpitations in my chest around the base of my throat.  Now I’ve been experiencing palpitations for at least the last five years when I had to go to the Emergency Room for IV’s to bring my heart rate down.  I’d get them every couple of months, generally they last a few minutes – maybe up to a half hour, and then just go away.  I’d discussed them with my cardiologist and he said I was probably just becoming hyper-aware because of my ER experience.  Anyway, I went to the nurse at work and she took my blood pressure and pulse.  My BP was fine, but my pulse was a little elevated (for me), around the high 90’s.  I asked her to check my pulse manually.  She asked why.  I said because the machines aren’t very good at judging irregular pulses and I only trust people for that.  She checked and found my pulse agreed with the machine, but I was correct and my pulse was irregular.  She asked me the standard questions about how I felt and since everything else was fine, she said I could go, but cautioned I needed to go see my doctor or to the ER if my symptoms changed.
The palpitations went away, but I still didn’t “feel” right the rest of the day.
Later in the day, a friend at work came up to me and said she had to give me a hug and say goodbye.  I asked what’s up and she said she had a dream something terrible happened to me while I was away and she felt she would not be able to live with herself if she didn’t say goodbye to me.  We laughed, but I could tell she was serious.
When I got home, I checked my BP several times and it remained normal with an elevated pulse (and the irregular indicator flashing).  I took my BP the following morning and it was the same.
I went out for a driving lesson with my son, James, and we stopped to do a bit of shopping while we were out.  I was fine walking around, but when I’d get in the car, I kept feeling a tightness in the center of my chest.  Not pain, just pressure.  While we were out we bumped into a colleague from work who was out shopping with her family.  Her husband was also going away on a business trip and we had a little chat.  He advised me to check my flights as a number of them were being cancelled due to the bad snowstorm on the east coast.
When I got home, I checked and, indeed, my flight had been cancelled.  I hastily rebooked for another flight – this one going to Baltimore via Detroit.  My original ticket was for Baltimore via Atlanta, but Atlanta was closed due to the weather.
The tightness in my chest was not going away so I discussed it with my wife and we decided it was best to go to the ER – just to get it checked out.  It was probably nothing, but just to be safe…
Well, to make a longer story shorter, they put me on a bed and started running IV’s into me.  They were very reassuring, but I felt like I had to tell my story to every nurse and doctor who popped their head in my room.  Having said all this, there is something definitely NOT reassuring about being told three times, “Don’t worry!  You’re in the safest place in the county to have a heart attack.”
Needless to say, around 6pm, I had a panic attack!
Now I’ve never been overly sympathetic for folks in the movies or on TV who suddenly can’t breathe and start screaming…  Let me tell you, I have a whole new attitude about it.  It may look ridiculous on screen, but when it’s YOU – it ain’t funny.  More precisely, it is terrifying!!
I suddenly felt like I was locked in a vise and it was crushing my shoulders together.  I felt myself gasping for air, but I could not take any in.  I was screaming (at least in my head I felt like I was screaming), but I’m not sure how much noise I was actually making with no air.  Hil went out into the hall to get the doctors and nurses and they came in and calmed me down.  Shortly after that, it was “happy-juice” time in the ol’ IV.  That calmed me down and the decision was made to keep me for overnight observation and a stress test in the morning.
Hil went home to the kids around 11pm.  I’m sure the whole experience had scared the bejesus out of her (it sure did out of me)!
The night was uneventful.  They wake you up every now and then to take blood, give you more drugs and to make sure you don’t sleep to well through the night (just kidding about that last part).
In the morning, it was off to the treadmill for my stress test…  Now, for my age, I’m only supposed to get up to about 140 for a few seconds to complete the test.  Well, standing there getting wired for the test, my pulse was already 135-138.  And I wasn’t even moving…  The nurses decided they didn’t want to do the test without the doctor present – so we waited a bit.  My cardiologist showed up and he restored their confidence and we got on with the test.  As it happened, I guess I passed because his whole demeanor changed and he pronounced me fit to go home!!
We had a chat about my drugs and not exercising for a week (to start) and about being careful.  He advised against my trip, but said he couldn’t stop me if I insisted on going.
Jumping ahead, I had to speak with another doctor before I could be released.  He also advised me not to travel.  In the end, Hil and I talked and we agreed for me to stay.  Trooper that she is, Hil said, “I’ll support you if you go, but I don’t want you to because I don’t think it’s safe and you’re not well.”
When we got home, I called my Center Director and she agreed it wasn’t a good idea to travel so soon.  She assured me the most important thing was my health and other opportunities would come along.  I thanked her and began the process of cancelling my flight and room and committing to staying.
Today marks one week since the start of the palpitations…  Hil has unpacked for me.  She has really been a rock for me this week.  I took two days off to adjust to my new meds and have now been back at work for three days.  Everyone has been supportive at work.  I’m still keenly aware of my chest/heart/pulse, and every now and then there is an almost exquisite sense of terror that my heart could stop any minute now.  Today, Hil and I went for a short walk – about five blocks.  My legs feel leaden and my chest feels hollow.  No pain or tightness, just not full.  I guess it’s the new drugs working at slowing my pulse.
In a way, I feel as if I’ve been given another chance at life…  Hil and I curl up together at night to reassure each other and it all seems so precious and yet so fragile…
I have loads of new topics to blog about: atrial fibrillation, blood thinning, fear, renewed hopes, love of family, warm sunlight and fresh air, and the simple joy of being alive…
My New Year’s resolution of walking at least a half hour every day this year doesn’t seem like such a trivial accomplishment anymore.  Technically, I’ve already blown it for the last seven days.  I think I’ll forgive myself for missing it this week.  Slowly, slowly, get better every day…
And that single heartbeat — the most important one — it’s the next one!
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