Monday, April 10, 2017

Celebrating a Change of Heart

Two years ago, the quality of my life was not great.  The core problem, the heart of the matter, the nitty-gritty of it all, was that my heart was not working properly.  I had developed a heart syndrome called tachy-brady. Sometimes, it is also called sick sinus syndrome.  The first time I heard my primary doctor say to me "I think you have sick sinus syndrome," I was clueless as to what it meant, but I knew it wasn't good.  In truth, she was the first to come up with this diagnosis, one that the nurse practitioner at my cardiologist's office dismissed.  By the time the GP, reading the same sleep study report that my cardiologist had received, made this observation, I already had an extensive file containing drugs tried, tests done, and procedures considered for troubling symptoms of arrhythmia.

A year before the final slump with a heart not functioning correctly, I had a heart ablation to correct tachycardia, a rhythm problem that the heart will sometimes develop that will cause the heart to beat too fast.  After the ablation, I felt wonderful and was able to carry on with my life until about six or eight months later when I again began to experience a wildly beating heart that would leave me exhausted and faint.  A sleep study was ordered to see if I was getting enough oxygen at night.  I wasn't, but adding oxygen at night didn't help my faintness and exhaustion.

 Diagnosing my problem was a process.  It wasn't enough to have a GP say that she thought I had sick sinus syndrome.  Diagnosis for me involved having a small device called a loop recorder implanted in my left breast. This miraculous little device allowed my doctor to see exactly what was going on in this heart of mine when it would decide not to beat properly.  I had the recorder fewer than two weeks before it was determined that I needed a pacemaker.  

Getting that pacemaker changed my heart, the way it beat, and it changed my life.  A pacemaker gave me my life back.  Today, two years ago the miracle of modern medicine allowed for a device to be implanted in my body which would monitor my heart and keep it from going too fast or too slow.  I can now walk longer distances, walk up hills, and I can go about the business of my life with few problems with my heart.  I am so grateful.

Two years ago, just before I received the pacemaker, I remember sitting in the my chair in the living room feeling quite sorry for myself as my husband went out for a long walk in the neighborhood with the dog and without me.  I remember that while he was gone my heart rate went down in the 30's and my blood pressure plummeted so low that I had to call the doctor.  He ordered me to get to the hospital.  It was Easter Sunday.  I did not want to go to the hospital with yet another heart episode, but I had no choice.  When my husband got back from his walk, he had to take me to the hospital.  They almost implanted the pacemaker that night, but finally determined I would be safe to wait a few days for the procedure.

I don't take being able to walk at the altitude where I live for granted.  I am grateful I am able to go for my daily walks and enjoy the beauty of the world around me.  Today, the sky was as blue as it could be.  I never tire of looking at the rock formations near my home.  They fascinate me.  They remind me just why I love to live where I do.  My marmalade cat rock (I love her) looks down on me as I walk by her, and seems to say, "I'm happy to see you out and about today."  (She is the rock formation on the top right.)  The table rock on the lower right is still waiting for one you to come and join me for a tea party on her flat surface.



I never could have made it through the bouts with my health that I have had without the guy by my side, my dear and greatly loved husband.  It is so good to walk through this life with him.  I so love when we go on walks together.  Today, I said, "I love where we live," as we sat on our patio after our walk.  With my camera, I captured this laugh on his face when he brought up my one complaint about where I live, "Except for crawlspace in the basement."  Hey, I'd probably live in crawlspace with the guy, but don't tell him that.  He keeps me laughing.  He keeps me keeping on.


I can't forget how much I love my other loyal companion.  He also is always at my side.  (Except when his master is home.  Then he is by his side.)  I love my Boston boy too.


Today, was such a beautiful day.  The sun was shining.  The sky was blue.  My man was by my side.  Even the daffodils I planted around our new patio last fall were blooming.


On this glorious spring day, I was able to walk 1.9 miles, gaining 137 feet in altitude at an altitude of over 6,600 feet.  My average heart rate was 115 BPM.  Look at this cool map that shows my route.  (Thank you Jim for my Apple watch which tracks such things.)  


I could do this because of that change of heart I had two years ago.  That is something to celebrate.  
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