Category Archives: Uncategorized

Recent Visit to the ER

A few weeks ago, I had to make a visit to the Emergency Room.  What a treat that was!  Here is how it all began…

I woke up with severe pain underneath my left shoulder blade that wrapped around to the left side of my chest.  At times, I could not even move.  It also hurt to breathe deeply.  The day before, my friend, Jennifer, had just sent me an article about back pain and heart attacks.  Naturally, this made me very nervous, and I was afraid I might be having another heart attack, especially with the painful breaths, which reminded me of the day of my heart attack.  I could not get comfortable to make the back pain go away, so I called my cardiologist nurse.  She did not think it was cardiac-related, and suggested I called my PCP,  which I did.  There were no appointments available to allow me to be seen that day, so the receptionist transferred me to a nurse who suggested (due to my history) that I go to the ER.  My concern was that I might have pneumonia if it wasn’t a heart attack because I had a sore throat for a few days prior.  The nurse was also concerned about that.

So, I got dressed into another pair of pajamas and called my mom to have her drive me to the ER.  Thank goodness that there is a hospital less than a mile from my house, so I figured I would try that ER since it was so close.  I’m not going to mention the hospital name at this time, but I do NOT plan on using that hospital ER ever again!!!!

I arrived around 3pm and was told there would be a 2 hour wait just to see a triage nurse.  There were signs all over the check-in desks that said if you were having chest pain to let them know and not fill out the paperwork.  I let them know that I was having pain in my left chest and pointed to the site of the pain.  The unfriendly check-in lady said that was not my chest, it was my ribs.  (OH, EXCUSE ME, I THOUGHT MY RIBS WERE IN MY CHEST CAVITY).  I also let her know that I was a heart attack patient.  She did not seem to care unless I was having “chest” pain.  What I thought was so crazy about this “chest” pain thing and how adamant they were about it is that most women do NOT have chest pain when they are having a heart attack.  I didn’t.  I had arm pain.  I was in too much pain to argue or talk back to them  at that time, but it really made no sense.  So I imagine that most of their female heart attack patients do not fare well because they come in with non-chest pain and are made to wait for hours in the ER waiting room while men fare better  because they have chest pain and are treated immediately??  I’d love to see the statistics in that hospital.

Anyway, I had to wait over 2 hours to see a triage nurse.  She seemed concerned about my pain and the fact that I was a heart attack patient, and within a few minutes, I was in the ER in a bed being seen by a doctor who was also very concerned.  DUH!  I explained everything about my pain and everything about my heart attack.  He took me very seriously and was going to do a full cardiac workup on me along with a chest X-ray (to check for pneumonia) and a CT scan of my abdomen (to check my kidneys).

All-in-all, I spent about 5 hours in the ER (from the time I arrived).  My chest X-ray did not show any pneumonia, but it did show bronchial cuffing (which the dr did not discuss with me, I  just noticed on my report after leaving).  The bronchial cuffing on the report said it could be caused by bronchitis, but I didn’t have a cough or bronchitis.  I googled it, and it can also be caused by acute pulmonary edema (which I had during my heart attack) and CHF.  It’s something I need to add to my list to ask my cardiologist about because he said that I did not have any lung damage as a result of the acute pulmonary edema.  I’m not sure if cuffing is considered “damage”.

My CT scan did not show anything wrong with my kidneys (no kidney stones), but I noticed on the report that I have a 4.4cm hemangioma on my liver.  The dr did not mention this, but my GI dr saw this on a CT scan that he ordered on me a few weeks earlier and said it was nothing to worry about.  Of course, I will worry about it a little later.  The GI dr said he would do another CT scan in 6 months if I wanted one, so I will take him up on that in 6 months just to be sure…based on my luck lately.

My cardiac workup was abnormal, but I told the dr that my EKG is abnormal now and has inverted T waves.  He said that is what his showed, too, and that my heart was ischemic.

So, he said to make sure I took the reports to my dr to have him look over everything to ensure they were “normal” for me, which they were when I went to my next cardiologist appointment.

Thank goodness nothing was wrong, and the fact that I went to the ER and was thoroughly checked out made me feel SO much better.  The dr prescribed me some pain medicine, and I already had an appointment with my GI dr a couple days later where we discussed GI issues that I’d been having.

I will say that next time I have an emergency (and am able to be driven to the ER), I will go the few extra miles to go to another hospital or drive even more miles to get to an Orlando Health hospital.

National Wear Red Day

National Wear Red Day was a success and was fun.  In case you missed it on the Love Your Heart Facebook page, here is a photo!!

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My red converse are about 24 years old and still going strong, love these red jeans (wear them all the time), the red purse is Dooney & Bourke (I’m a huge Dooney fan) from QVC.  My sweater has dogs on it, but I still thought it was perfect to wear…and apparently, the American Heart Association thought so, too, as evidenced in a response to my post on their Facebook page!!  (You have to read it!)

And for those days that aren’t called National Wear Red Day or where I don’t want to wear all red, I now have my #GoRedPin that will match any and everything!!!

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Do you have yours?  If not, it’s very easy to get.  Go to their website and enter your information.  It took a while to receive mine, but I also received a note with mine saying they had a rare glitch or something where they missed a period of time of requests last year.  So you shouldn’t have that problem now.

I’m also looking forward to the day after Valentine’s Day clearance sales.  I’m hoping to find a cute heart scarf or socks or some other cute stuff to add to my “heart accessories” collection.  Hmmm…maybe I’ll just spend that day shopping all day!!!  Any suggestions on where to go?  Who’s selling super cute Valentine’s Day tops, jewelry, accessories?  You better believe I’ll be wearing that stuff year-round!  And you should, too, if you’re a heart disease survivor!!!  HAVE FUN WITH IT!!!  BE HEART PROUD!

Latest Cardiologist Appointment

All went well with my latest appointment!  My cardiologist was pleased at how I’ve been feeling, did not change any meds, did not order any new tests, and does not need to see me again until June!!!!  In fact, my next appointment is scheduled on the 1-year anniversary of my Heart Attack! (I may end up rescheduling if I plan something so spectacular to celebrate that it requires I free up the entire day. hee hee)

But wait…what will I do without the monthly doctor’s visits???  Of course, he said I can still come in if I need to, and I’m sure I will still be calling as often as I need to.  Either the nurses’ phone has caller ID or they have my number memorized because they greet me by name when I call there now.  LOL!  (Yes, folks, that is how often I call my cardiologist’s office with questions, frantic concerns, and outrageous symptoms.)

Nonetheless, I was very thankful to get a “clean” bill of health (or as clean as it can be for a heart patient) for the next few months.  It makes me feel somewhat back to normal for a little while!  And that could be a very good thing psychologically!

New Year’s Resolutions…Not For Me

I do not do New Year’s Resolutions.  I don’t believe in them.  Usually they start off as a great idea, and you are motivated for a little while and working hard towards your resolution, but at some point, you taper off, and the resolution does not become a habit.  At least this has been my experience whenever I have made one.

So, for the past several years, instead of a resolution like losing X # of pounds by a certain date or working out so many days a week or following a certain diet, I now have a simple quote or mantra that I try to abide by daily.  It can be something as simple as “be happy” or “live each day to the fullest” or “this is your year”.  And I’ve even gone so far as to work it into my computer password at work, so I’m reminded of it first thing every morning when I log in.

I feel that these “resolutions” are much easier to follow for the entire year, and they really shape your mind to be a better person.  Yes, they are very broad, so they leave me lots of room to interpret them they way I want to or need to each day.

My “resolution” for 2015 is to “Be Heart Healthy”.  It wasn’t very hard to come up with that one.  What is your resolution?

Cheat Days

Since my dietician and my cardiologist told me that I had to avoid cheese, fried foods, egg yolks, and limit my dairy, I’ve had to find a way to cope.  I honestly think I was eating cheese a few times a week before my heart attack.  I got into the habit of eating cheese (a lot of it) a little over a year ago.  Fried foods, I’ve always pretty much avoided.  I would rarely order french fries pre-heart attack and almost always substituted with another side item when I went out to eat.

I don’t think I could go on with NEVER eating some of these foods again.  I mean, let’s be real.  But then again, I am the girl who completely stopped drinking all soda 19 years ago (until my GI issues this past Spring – when all my stomach could handle was bottled Sprite – but as soon as my GI issues were resolved, the Sprite went away, too).  So we know I have good will power.

Nevertheless, I felt the best way to never worry about missing these foods on a daily basis would be to have a “cheat day” once a month.  So far, they’ve been lots of fun and very fulfilling (and filling).  Most of my cheat days have been pizza because I think I miss that THE MOST!!!!!  In October, my cheat day was Kraft Mac & Cheese (but I did toss in some English Peas and Tuna).

As I learned on one of my cheat days, when I over-indulged in Pizza Hut pizza, I have to be really careful about sodium intake on these cheat days.  I gained 4 pounds after that Pizza Hut visit (literally overnight) and when I went to their website to look up the nutrition facts (afterwards), I learned why.  I had consumed at least 3 times my daily limit of sodium from that one meal alone!  Even though pizza might seem cheap, easy, convenient, and healthy, do yourself a favor and look up the nutritional facts before ordering your next pizza pie.  The sodium content is outrageous!!!  And to give you an idea of the type of pizza I order, it’s always thin crust with pineapple and onion or pineapple and jalapeños…you’d think that would be healthy!  But it’s the tomato sauce that really gets you, so be careful!!

At least I know I won’t be having pizza until at least January because my cheat day for November was Thanksgiving Day and for December will be Christmas Day.

Cheat Days gives you something to consider if you’re having a hard time eliminating a favorite food from your diet.  So far, it’s working great for me!

Inspirational Words

I don’t normally buy decor for my home that contains quotes and words of inspiration, but I saw this today and thought it was just too perfect.

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I love that “heart” and “life” are the core of this quote and seem to carry a whole new meaning for me.

This is now hanging in my bedroom where I can read it before I go to sleep at night and when I wake up first thing in the morning.

Good words for me to live my life by now!

Oh, and if you’d like to get one for yourself…”I got it at Target; it was on sale”.  (No, really, it was.  lol.  A little Ricky Bobby humor for those of you who are fans.)

 

 

My Favorite Holiday Beverage

As I was strolling through the grocery store today, I noticed that the milk coolers were stocked full of my favorite holiday beverage…Egg Nog!

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Oh, how I’m going to miss this.  Let’s see…what’s wrong with it, you ask?  Oh, just the fact that it’s dairy and egg yolks!!!  NOOOOOO!!!!!  I don’t know how I will make it through the holiday season without Egg Nog.  It’s usually a staple in my refrigerator starting about this time of year all the way until the last jug is available in the grocery store in January. I’m so sad.

Christmas Day will be my December cheat day, so I will allow myself to divulge in my favorite beverage on that day only (the lowfat option).

But in the meantime, I also found THIS in the milk coolers…Silk Holiday Nog.  Not as thick or as creamy or as “bad” as Egg Nog, but this will have to satisfy my taste buds for now.  And it is dairy-free and egg-free!

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What is your favorite holiday beverage?

What a Healthy Weekend!

I feel like I’ve had a healthy weekend yesterday and today!

On Saturday, I woke up, let the dogs out, changed into my workout clothes, and went running/walking in my neighborhood for 30 minutes.  I did this before I could talk myself out of it or before I could talk myself into saving it until later in the day.  Afterwards, I drank a bottled water and went out to breakfast to this super cute local diner called “Nothing Fancy Cafe”.  For the first time ever, I ordered an omelette!  I know, I’ve always been an old-fashioned eggs girl (scrambled, over easy, or over hard), so this was totally new for me.  I realize I’m a little late to the party.  I ordered an egg white veggie omelette (contained onions, tomatoes, spinach, and bell peppers) with no cheese.  This came with 2 sides, and I selected fresh fruit cup and dry whole wheat toast.  YUMMY!!!  It was so good!  I actually made a sandwich out of the omelette and the toast, and it was scrumptulicious (my own word).  My breakfast was so good and filling that I didn’t even get hungry again until 6 hours later!

On Sunday morning (today), I weighed myself and lost 1 pound!  Not sure it will last, but it certainly motivated me to quickly put on my workout clothes and go running/walking in the neighborhood again for 30 minutes!  Yay!  Workout done and over with at the start of the day!!  Afterwards, I went back to the diner and ordered the exact same breakfast.  Super YUMMM!

I won’t be able to to keep this up everyday (I’m on a budget), but I feel like I’ve been super healthy this weekend as a result!  And I’ve realized that I love egg white veggie omelettes!

What heart-healthy choices have you made this weekend?

Go Wild

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This is what I’m currently reading, and so far, it’s really good.    It is about the evolution of our civilization and how our bodies have not yet evolved to fit the modern lifestyle.  I’ve always been a big believer in a lot of the theories presented in this book, and I firmly believe that many of today’s ailments (heart disease, cancer, etc) are a result of how our civilization has evolved.

I’m hoping that it inspires me to eat and live better…or at least make a gallant effort.  I’ll be sure to write more when I’ve completed the book and will let you know what changes I’ve made.

My Social Support Network

Social support is so important after a heart attack.  I wanted to take a moment to recognize a few friends and family in my social support network and how they’ve helped me.  And I want to thank everyone who has been there for me, supported me, listened to me, and prayed for me.

MY PARENTS:

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They spent every single night in the hospital with me…sleeping on a cot or in an uncomfortable chair.  My mom fed and let my dogs out twice a day every single day.  When I was released from the hospital, my parents insisted that I stay with them for a while before returning home.  I stayed with them for about a week and a half, and during this time, my mom cooked whatever I wanted every single day.  It was quite the experiment because I was trying to be “vegan pescetarian” at that time, so we did a lot of research on recipes.  When I finally returned home, my parents brought me lunch and dinner every single day for almost 2 weeks!  Once again, my mom cooked whatever I wanted.  I am very lucky that they live so close and were able to help me through all of this.  My dad is also a survivor – he had quadruple bypass surgery about 7 years ago – so he can relate to what I’m going through, which has really been helpful.

MY BROTHER AND SISTER:

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They live close by, as well, and they’ve been great from making me laugh in the hospital to making me laugh in recovery.  We occasionally go out to eat together or they get me out of the house for a movie.  They’re so much fun!

MY BFFs:

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Two of my best friends, Kim and Chrissey, have been there for me from the beginning…literally.  They actually drove me to the hospital and spent the first couple of nights in the waiting room with my family while I was in ICU, brought me TONS of flowers and balloons to brighten up my hospital room, played games with me, provided comic relief for my parents, and have all around been such a great support system for me and my family.  I don’t know what I would do without them!!  Seriously.

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One of my best friends from college, Shay, has also been AUsome (lol)!  From entertaining me for a few days on my first “vacation” post-heart attack, taking me kayaking for the first time since I was like 10, to always being a phone call away when I need someone to talk to.  She always lifts my spirits and makes me smile.

Two of my best friends, Jennifer (from high school) and Kim (from college), also made the multi-state drive from Texas and Alabama, respectively, to visit me in the hospital.  That meant the world to me! It was so special to spend time with great friends during the scariest time in my life.  I so appreciate ALL of my friends.

MY DOGS:

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These two!  Kenobi (the German Shepherd mix) and Mace Windu (the Terrier mix) are my life.  I credit them with much of my recovery in the beginning.  When I was at my parents’ house, I was in bed or on the couch most of the time and was excited to walk across the street to the mailbox for exercise each day.  As soon as I came home to my house, there was no more sitting around for me, no matter how fatigued I was.  Kenobi and Mace were so excited to see me that they always wanted to play or love on me, they constantly had to go outside to go to the bathroom, and always needed their food or water dish refilled.  This kept me busy getting up and sitting back down, getting up and sitting back down, getting up and sitting back down; and I think this helped build my strength quicker than if I had stayed at my parents’ for longer.

My social support network has been incredible and has stretched around the world with friends and family.  I didn’t list everyone here.  Now that I am meeting other heart attack survivors like me, I feel that my social support network is growing!  Surrounding myself with all of these people has truly been a blessing and has helped me in more ways than they will ever know.  

THANK YOU!

LOVE, KIMBY