It’s not exactly today, but this month marks the 6 year anniversary of my death and resurrection to the land of the living. Death by heart attack and heart failure. Life by sheer dint of will and medical marvels and perseverance. I’m celebrating my second wind of life by creating as many projects as I can to pass on what I know now to everyone. Whether it’s in fictional or nonfictional format doesn’t really matter to me so much, it’s just the act of creating and offering that brings real juiciness to my life.
If you’re waiting for some other time in your life to pursue your dreams, you’re going to wait forever. I can guarantee it. Life is short. What gives it meaning is what you give back to this world. Everything else pales in comparison. All the ways I’ve acted selfishly with my time and my resources over the years has never felt very good. The more I create and offer back out, whether it is met with anything like ‘success’ or scorn, the better I feel.
Pema Chodron has a book called ‘fail fail again fail better’. It’s completely apt for those of us who are artists, healers, creative-types. I think it’s apropos for literally anyone in this world, to be honest.
My celebration today, which is an arbitrary day to celebrate, is all about how I failed first and succeeded right after. Heart failure led to living success. Living itself is success. And creating something, no matter how challenging, or messed up it is, is its own success.
Choosing to live is success.
Me, I’m the rookie here. I’ve only had the diagnosis of heart disease and heart damage (leaking valve) for about 6 years now. One of the mistakes I made against my doctor’s strict warnings was to take my blood pressure early and often. And just like they said it would, the numbers would fluctuate wildly from day to day. So here’s the first bit of advice, if you want to check your blood pressure that’s fine, but do yourself a big favor and only check it once every other week or so.
Our heart rates fluctuate as crazy as a stock market ticker during a hotbed political season from hour to hour and from day to day. You might ask yourself why that is, and the best answer I have is: your mental and emotional state. If you think about it your own days are very much up and down, highs, lows, peaks and valleys as new information comes to you, either the kind that arises as insight, or the kind that comes from outside sources, like friends, work, or family—especially family.
You get a nice raise at work; peak. You don’t get a raise; dip. You receive news about something you’ve been looking forward to: tickets to the concert, your auto loan was approved, your wife got pregnant for real this time, and so on—all peaks. I don’t need to give examples of more dips, do I? Your most hated political candidate gets closer to being in office.
Just reading these words your heart rate is bouncing around like a kids rubber ball in a gymnasium. That’s the way it goes. We’d like to think we have ultimate control over our bodies, and to some extent we may have quite a bit of control, however, when it comes to our hearts, we’re really not in charge.
I just saw my cardiologist recently and he is giving me 4 months to get my long term blood pressure and heart rate under control. If I am not successful by June 8th, I’ll have to go on the medication he wants me to take (ramipril). So you might have seen the twitter feed on the right hand side of my blog, and it shows every once in a while my stats for how many steps I take. It does this automatically for me, but I don’t see it doing this every day. I normally hit about 10k steps per day, but not always. After all life leads us away from our treasured activities when we least want it to.
If only walking could reverse heart disease! (Of course walking is powerful, and I do it a lot, but on its own it’s not enough to reverse heart disease). My diet is radically changing. The lower the salt, the better off I’ll be. The more regular cardiovascular exercise, the more improved my chances of not taking more drugs I’ll get.
Here are the mistakes I’ve made recently –if you or someone you know suffers from heart disease, point them here so they can steer clear of my poor example.
It’s not too late to change habits and take a turn towards your health. People may complain about the cost of health care, but the real health care begins with what you do or don’t put in your body to begin with. The first finger we point should be directed at ourselves. We’re responsible for what we eat or don’t eat, for what we do or don’t do, and how we go about making sincere changes for our ongoing health. If you think this applies only to heart patients, think again. Over time we stress our bodies out beyond capacity and wonder why we get certain problems that occur, aching joints, dizzy spells when climbing a flight of stairs, restless nights of sleep, and the list continues.
With all these mistakes I’ve made (and even worse in the past) I have picked up some good habits along the way. I’ve started eating right, going to the gym more regularly, taking medications as prescribed (the necessary ones until others are proven necessary), doing healing work, on myself, and others, being thankful for such an amazing body that has done its best to accommodate my unpredictable and silly behavior over the years. I am thankful every day that I have such a strong heart that it continues to beat while being damaged and keeps me going when I ask of it so much. Our hearts are extraordinary, so fragile, yet strong, so endlessly capable and enduring. I like to thank my physical beating heart for its loving service to keep my body alive every day. Gratitude, when it’s authentic, is mysterious and powerful. It’s also deeply healing.
This post is not exactly autobiographical, I know, but there is more—so much more. See you in the next one!
I saw this article in the New York Times, you can read it by clicking here. What do you think of that? I honestly thought it was the opposite. The higher my BP, the harder it’s been for me to sleep well—and that’s been too much of my adult life. I personally think the key is not just low salt, but low stress, and a good workout routine. If you’re body’s exhausted (in a good way) you can sleep. At least I can, I’m not sure that’s true for everyone. Bonus, it’s great for your heart! At the end of this post I will share some of the other tried and true remedies that are holistic which I have personally implemented and will continue to do until I see a shift. In the first post I forgot to mention that my BP has been in the range of 130+/80+ with a low/normal pulse. It’s hypertensive considering the Metoprolol Tartrate is meant to keep the blood pressure normal (and it had, for years until recently). Within the next few blog posts my goal is to report news that the BP is in normal range. Then the goal is to keep it there—indefinitely.
As I sit here and reflect on it, I think my entire life there has always been something difficult about sleeping all through the night. This other article mentions that heart disease can often start developing in childhood (watch the video, I found it tremendously informative and I know you will too, plus it’s only 5 minutes long)… I guess that explains some things, but not all. Sleep is just as bizarre a phenomena as waking, as far as I can tell. Sure, I’ve had strings of years when I would fall asleep and stay asleep the entire night through, but I haven’t seen them since I was a teenager or a little kid. There’s the inevitable shuffle to the bathroom to offload old water. There are strange sounds in the night. Thoughts whirring and whizzing through the mind, preventing sleep from settling in. Anxiety about having to go to work the next morning—I know you can’t relate to that, but still… 😉
This whole thing with me not sleeping reminded me of my teenage years in which I battled another (I thought) unrelated illness. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Imagine Manhattan at the age of 15. You live there. The sites, the sounds, the restaurants, the people. My father had a great little chiropractic practice on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, near Central Park West off 72nd Street. We lived on a yellow…I mean, a cigar shaped island in the East River between Manhattan and Queens called Roosevelt Island. My commute to school from the ages of 13 through 15 was to the lower East Side near Thompson Square Park—actually, my public school butted right up against T.S. Park. To get there was quite a hike. Most days schlepping my body felt like the hardest thing I ever did. By the time I climbed the stairs in my school to get to class I was practically asleep. Never mind the trip back home. Most days I thought I’d never make it to the first bus, let alone the famous tram to get to the island!
Cheese pizza slices for lunch. Dinner was often a hamburger and fries with gravy for dipping. The salt content of any of these alone is terrifying to contemplate! Salad? Get that away from me! I wanted Chinese food (notorious back then for being as greasy and unhealthy as it could be, especially the places I wanted to go to.) With all the ways I was poisoning my body I hit the end of my rope. Going to school was just impossible. My mom had to start working at my Dad’s office when he caught his office assistant stealing from him. My brother who is older was often at home, so I was sick a lot. He had the unfortunate run of babysitting me while I felt sick. I really was sick, and didn’t know just how sick.
At some point I convinced my parents it was time for me to drop out of school and do homeschool. They agreed that I may as well. My grades were terrible anyway. My dad was suspicious that I had a bigger problem than I was able to articulate. He took me to see another doctor friend of his in the city who used his own testing methods to reveal that I suffered from CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). There are studies out now that support the possibility that CFS is related to heart disease. Who knew!
My whole life changed when I read a specific book one day. It was about meditation. It was about many things, and it was connected to the spiritual lineage (ashram and guru) that I had always been connected to through my parents. I say the book changed my life, but in fact it simply changed my direction. In reality, my own discipline is what changed my whole life. After my diagnosis I went on a vegetarian/vegan diet. I stayed home doing my syllabi from my new Home School, I woke each day at 3AM! I meditated and then chanted in Sanskrit (I know, whaaaa?) for an hour. My self-discipline went militant. And no, I don’t recommend anyone go off the deep end like I did. I was a teenager and thought everything in the book was rather a direct path to knowing my self, a specific path and if I didn’t follow it, then I’d never know who I really was. Teenagers…so literal, so lost. Anyway, that’s not how life is as we all know.
I’d eat breakfast, study in my room and write reports and read the books I was assigned. I felt energized in a way I’d never experienced before. Shortly after this, in 1996 we moved out of the city to New Rochelle, NY and I completed my studies there, receiving my High School Diploma in the mail at the ripe age of 17 with high mark grades and glowing reports from my teachers—all of whom I stayed in touch with via snail and email at that exciting time. I never attended college. There’s more, because life can’t be captured in a blog post or a book, but the link between CFS and CVD feels significant. Here’s my suspicion based on my behavior: all that early rising was good to strengthen my nerves, but was difficult on my heart. The fact that I was mostly vegan/vegetarian during that time saved my heart, and the fact that I got little sleep also weakened it. My life has always been in the clutches of contrast, one end and another. It’s a constant pendulum swing. I bet if you look into your own life’s past you can see how certain things you did or didn’t do contributed to the way your body is right now. You’re probably way ahead of me that way, but I always think it’s cool to take a step back and look at the larger/longer picture.
I still wake up early, but that’s not because I’m trying to become enlightened. I have to go to work and my work-days begin early, that’s just the way of it. I think there are moments of freedom and ‘enlightenment’ every day if we’re open enough to notice them. That’s good enough for me at this stage of life.
As of this blog post I take the following supplements daily: Multivitamin, Kyolic Garlic (good for cardiovascular health), Hibiscus-Hawthorne Tea (this is sipped throughout the day), Flax Oil from 365, and Fish Oil. Yes, these are taken in addition to medications. You may try whichever brands you like, but these work pretty well for me for now. I’m well known in my household for being averse to tea, but I kind of like the Hawthorne Hibiscus tea by Traditional Medicinals. It has a tart flavor (which I augment with half a tablespoon of honey.) If you want to read more about Hawthorne and its benefits to the heart click here.
If you or someone you know is chronically depleted and tired, if every movement causes stress, anxiety, the feeling of exhaustion, please do something about it. Meditation is one of the most powerful and healing remedies for all bodily ailments. Respected scientists now support meditation as a means of changing the brain and reducing stress.
Great Natural Remedies:
Author’s Note: Just a heads up, the following post is a tad long. You could consider it a very small chapter from a book (only 2 and a half pages of big type) if that helps.
There are many more ways to help the heart. You can eat oranges (but not overdo ‘em since they still have sugar, and too much sugar isn’t helpful for heart patients.) The good news is I’ve been eating very healthy this past week and there’s an improvement in my BP somewhat. I’ve also gotten to the gym twice for sustained cardio exercise which is twice more than I’ve been at the gym in over a month, but also not enough to prevent heart disease according to this guy—thank goodness my job requires me to be on the move constantly! I’m also good at just getting up and moving as often as possible, and again my job requires me to walk around a lot (I easily hit over 10k steps per day, sometimes almost 14k steps per day every day of the week!)
What happens to people in the workforce is this: even when we have the time to go to the gym, we just don’t. Work was stressful, we’re tired, we didn’t get a good night’s sleep, we have a headache, we forgot our gym clothes (ok, if you forget your gym clothes you get a pass, and if you’re headache is really bad, you shouldn’t push yourself too hard, but otherwise…yeah, get in there) we’d rather go home and watch television.
The excuses are endless. What do you think Saint Valentine would say about excuses? Good point, since we don’t have much information on this particular saint, who knows what he might have said? Maybe he would have excused you to go out and have a cheeseburger. Regardless of such vagaries, I love what Saint Valentine stands for: love.
I’ve noticed that, despite a raised BP, the more I laugh and the more I love each day, the better I feel. I know it’s not only keeping me alive, but it’s making the lives of those who surround me (coworkers and family alike) feel better too.
I met my future wife for the first time in Denver Colorado. I had no idea who she was. I knew she was cute and sweet and intense just by the way she entered the room I was giving healing sessions in. She was curious to see if I could help her for her own reasons. I tried having a conversation with her on that first meeting, but she was very quiet and didn’t talk too much about why she was there. She also only had 15 minutes instead of the full 30 she paid for because she had a plane to catch.
At the time I had no idea what she was going to mean to me, but the session left an impact on both of us—it was her response on the table that cemented it in our minds. At that time she only asked to be able to live fully in her heart. I said that was easy (I was sincere in my response, if a bit naive).
One more time she paid me a visit, this time when I was giving healing sessions out in Santa Fe, NM. According to her, she wanted to see if what I did was “cold fusion” or if I was really gifted. After that second session, she knew I could be her teacher. So she asked to apprentice with me and eventually she had me come out to her studio in PA where I would end up teaching several workshops and helping a lot of people with healing sessions. Michelle watched everything I did and learned all she could. I would send lessons to her once a week, custom made, via email, as I did with a few of the people that wanted to be my students at that time. She was one of the few that really took everything to heart and still practices the same techniques I showed her to this day. Regardless of the fact that my now wife was always a powerful healer, even before I met her, and had helped many hundreds of people, she had the humility and the compassion to ask me for help in healing others when she was much more deeply connected to powerful healing than I ever could have imagined.
I remember realizing that, though she had asked to be my student, it was really I who learned the most from her and still do. To say I’m in total awe of this powerhouse of a woman is a feeble grasp at the truth behind words. She gives me incredible props for something she was always more talented at, always models the way to uphold my integrity, and never fails to cheer me on when the chips are feeling down. How do we meet such people? We align ourselves truly and fully with love. I’m truly blessed. And I guess you’re now just a tad sickened by all the Valentines Day love-lettering about my wife. After all these years I guess it’s too difficult to resist spelling out what an amazing and precious being she is to me. Okay, I’ll spare you from more (though I could go on) gushing.
Our relationship started out as friendship for over a year. We were together as a couple for over 5 years before we finally got married. Before we were married, and not long since we started dating, I had my heart attacks and died. She was there. At this time I was in Santa Fe, NM again teaching meditation and doing private healing sessions. I had driven out there from Houston where I resided. In case you’re wondering, yes, it’s a very long drive—almost 600 miles one way! Michelle was in PA, and we met frequently on Skype or talked on the phone. When I began developing symptoms of what we thought was altitude sickness I took baths, drank down chlorophyl pills, took aspirin, and was recommended the aforementioned Arnica Montana at a high dose, (which, unbeknownst to me was also a heart remedy), and the only thing that made me calm down and feel better. I was in fact having a severe myocardial infarction during that time, for a period of 3 days, not knowing it.
Finally, on the 3rd day I decided I’d had enough and would drive back to Houston to get away from the altitude. Or so I thought. During my time in Santa Fe I even met with a holistic MD who gave me a B shot infusion. Vitamin B (and all the B-vitamins, really) is extremely good for the heart! Getting the infusion made me feel amazing. For only a short time, then I’d relapse into shortened breath, and a stabbing pain in the center of my thoracic spine ( upper back)—I just thought I needed a chiropractic adjustment, and I’d feel better, but my back simply wouldn’t crack. Wanna know the craziest thing I did? I had the woman, who’s guest home I stayed in, stand on my back to try and crack it…while having a heart attack I didn’t know I was having! I know, crazy right? I should have died or my heart should have exploded in my chest right then. Perhaps there’s something to this mysterious ‘Grace’ stuff we keep hearing all about. Later on my doctors explained to me that a fluid sack had built itself around my heart and lungs protecting me from the heart attack, which is similar to Pulmonary Edema, but in my case was just a bit different, because it was something built over a short period of time versus a large period of time. How bizarre does that sound, right?
On the drive home Michelle called and from my symptoms she could tell I was having a heart attack. She told me to get off at the next exit and get to the emergency room. I finally agreed (under severely labored breath), having driven 336 miles from Santa Fe to Amarillo, Texas!
Before I set out on this journey some part of me recognized that I was dying. The thought that I’d been dying and would die young had weighed heavily on my mind for several months prior to this event. It would come to me from out of the blue. This odd phenomena has clued me in that when the time comes again, I will know it. The difference is, this time, I will be fine with it. Because the truth is, there is nothing to fear in death. Like the old saying goes, “don’t take life too seriously—nobody gets out alive.” I concur.
When I got to the hospital they did emergency surgery on me. After tests, the doctors concluded that I had 100% occlusions (remember this was 6 years ago) in several of my major arteries. They unclogged my arteries as best they could, but many more arteries had high occlusion rates at 60 and 70% which they left alone. Oops, I skipped a crucial part. The part where they make things worse before they make them better. This is one of those moments you look back on and laugh, I promise.
Before they did the surgeries they needed me to empty out my bladder. Of course they wouldn’t let me go into a men’s room and all the men and women doctors were just kind of milling about, waiting for me to go in front of them. Sure, no big deal. I’ll just unzip right here shall I and… Uh…folks, this isn’t the off-Broadway Special “Urinetown“, is it? Can a guy get an ounce of privacy here? Sure I’m dying, and I need to go, but…uh, how about no audiences? I asked them to leave the room. To add insult to injury I felt the crunch of time. They needed me to go now or they were going to catheterize me. That’s where they shove a not so subtle tube down the wrong end of a very sensitive anatomy spot…I’d rather not talk about this, but…it_gets_better_folks! Finally there’s a little relief. You know, not to sidetrack here much, but in some of my fictional writing I’ve been accused of writing scenes about the bathroom too much. Until just now I never realized why. Thanks blog! Okay, back to what happened in this story…
When the surgery was over and I’d come back around again I said I needed to go, ASAP-P, you know, but because I really waited so long, I was incapable. Here’s the moment in the movie of my life where I behold a very thick looking tube with downright horror. No WAY is that thing going inside my…oh goodness. Ouch! Now, the two nurses were pretty and barely out of their 20’s—seriously, did they have to look like high school cheerleaders? Despite the pain of having something the size of a garden hose be shoved through something the width and depth of a small needle syringe, there was blessed relief in the bladder. The next morning I was in the worst pain of my entire life! A_RAGING_U_T_I (urinary tract infection). Oops, we’re sorry–teehee, said the pretty nurses. Seriously? Anyway I do laugh about it now because I was the one person on that wing of the hospital who could be heard…through that whole wing of the hospital.
A day later my beloved was by my side. I felt bad for her poor ear drums! She could hear me moaning at the top of my lungs and reminded me to breathe, even just a little. Thank God for her. To say that this didn’t challenge our relationship would be a lie—not the moaning of course, but the situation, although.… It nearly tore us apart, and for the life of me I can only attribute the fact that we are still together with a miracle of the Great Heart by which we are all held. When I finally convinced the doctors to let me go, and they agreed it was safe, I left the hospital and went to the hotel right across the street. After a brief trip down the road to the local Walmart where I could get some fresh t-shirts and my medications, we finally got back to the hotel room. I took a shower and when I got out I was feeling really weird in my chest. Oh and one additional thing I forgot to mention, before I left my friend’s guest house in Santa Fe, I squashed my glasses when getting in bed, so as a bonus I was walking around blind. People must have thought I had strange problems at WalMart with all the squinting and acting like I was practically blind.
Well, I was practically blind, but whatever. Anyway, in the hotel room after the shower as I said, something else was really wrong and I told Michelle to call 911. I was rushed right back across the street to the hospital AGAIN. This time I was in VTAC with sustained BP at and over 200. They shocked my heart many times, but could not get my heart back into a normal sinus rhythm- by the way. Yep, it sucked. It sucked major lemons. I got to ride the lightning, and though I was semi-unconscious I’ll tell you I remember the jolts of electricity all through my body, especially in my eyes and teeth. My teeth! How the hell do you feel electricity in your teeth? You’d die faster and probably more painlessly in the electric chair (don’t quote me on that though). Now I know it sounds like I was awake this entire time, but at some point they put my body in a coma and I was no longer part of the experience.
The great thing about going through such extraordinary trauma is not actually having to be present for it. I know, that sounds awfully Woody Allen of me, but it’s true—I just wasn’t there after the whole electric tooth debacle (wow, that’d make a great name for a rock band, right?) They did many more gruesome things to me I’m sure, but I was busy chillin’ somewhere in the ‘afterlife’ asking about coming back here and visiting some of the friends I’d made around this big wide world in my subtle body. Yeah, it sounds cool, but I’d rather do some astral travels in meditation rather than from a hospital room in a town I’ve never been in before, but that’s just now how the chips fell this time around. Here is where, in 9 cases out of 10, I tell people I won’t be talking about the afterlife or my experiences of it any further. People still try to ask me but I will not speak of it further. I’ve given everything I have on the subject, and what’s left out is left out. Since I can’t be certain I wasn’t hallucinating, and since science doesn’t recognize another world, and since we all find out in the end for ourselves what’s real, why bother speaking about it? If you want to read a great book on the subject, I recommend Eben Alexander the 3rd’s book: Proof of Heaven. Please keep in mind this is not an endorsement of his book, but I thought I’d make it easier for you to get if you’re interested. I’m not about to say I have any authority or better understanding of death. I had my experiences, but everyone will have their own whenever they do.
During the time I was intubated and in a drug-induced coma (the kind many rock stars have no interest in, I’m sure) my beloved started doing Source Healing Energy on me (which is similar, although not the same as Reiki) on my feet. When she did so (I was intubated and unconscious) my BP dropped significantly, and the doctors and even the nurses had witnessed this phenomenon and were rightly surprised. The doctors said they had no idea what she was doing, but whatever it was to keep doing it. Of course, Michelle is no machine, and she could only do so much for so long before she was exhausted physically from worry, stress, and not sleeping well due to my compounded condition. The doctors had no idea what was wrong with me or why I was back in even more severe circumstances than when they’d left me. It wasn’t until three days later, with friends all over the Country working hard to collect funds to helicopter me back to Houston for even more advanced protocols, that a cardiac electrician from another city close by was called in and saved my life. Unbeknownst to everyone, I had electrical misfires on the backside of my heart. He had to ablate (burn) close to 50% of my heart pathways to keep me from dying permanently.
At one point while I was still intubated and mostly unconscious I came to. I asked for a pen and paper with the best and clumsiest sign language I could muster under the circumstances. I wrote down in droopy, loopy handwriting, “Only Grace is Everything” which I heard was later made into a T-Shirt somewhere out in California. That’s probably the best writing I’ve ever done—with tubes shoved down my throat after a traumatic event! Just kidding. Anyway, the Chaplain was so impressed with me and my recovery that he researched my website and me online (which we haven’t gotten to yet, but that’s what other posts are for) that some of the doctors asked if I’d stay and make an ashram where everyone could gather and…and what? God only knows what they had in mind. I politely declined of course. Amarillo isn’t the sort of place I had intentions of staying. Now that I saw my relationship with Michelle was going to survive (an inner knowing kind of thing, there was still plenty of room for doubt, because all things are essentially groundless) I had other ideas about where I wanted to end up living.
I know this entry is long enough—we should call it “The Never Ending Eeentry!” Sorry, couldn’t help myself. I still feel so full in my heart to this very day that so many people prayed for and supported me during that crucial and scary chapter of my life. It helped me with medical expenses and moving across the country to live near my beloved.
I like to think that this event in my life cracked my heart open even wider, and opened my mind and eyes to ever greater possibilities of what life has to offer. The fact that you’re reading this now gives it an extra special shine. I hope that other people with heart issues are half as lucky as I was. I think this is the special gift of Valentines Day. We get to appreciate the miracles, large and small, in our life, and the one’s we get to share it with. May we all open to supreme joy and the causes of supreme joy, may we all know it and invite it into our lives.
In truth, everyone saved my heart. I hope to return the favor.
Happy Love Day!
Ramipril on far right is something I do NOT take. Hoping never to have to.
In 2008, over 616,000 people died of heart disease.
In 2008, heart disease caused almost 25% of deaths—almost one in every four—in the United States.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2008 were in men.
Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease. In 2008, 405,309 people died from coronary heart disease.
Every year about 785,000 Americans have a first coronary attack. Another 470,000 who have already had one or more coronary attacks have another attack.
In 2010, coronary heart disease alone was projected to cost the United States $108.9 billion. This total includes the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
In 2010, at the ripe age of 30, I died from heart disease. Yes, died. I was first admitted for 100% occlusions in a couple of my primary arteries. Even after they were unblocked, I wasn’t out of the woods. Less than a week after seeming stabilization I went into severe V-Tac (Ventricular Tachiacardia) in which the heart raced over 200 beats a minute without letup. The details of what treatments were tried and failed, and what finally saved my life, will come later. The short story is that I lived. The longer story is how I got there, and what I’m doing about it day by day.
Welcome to my new blog: By Heart. Here I’m going to intersperse my personal, anecdotal story, with what I’m doing to overcome heart disease. Have I overcome heart disease? No, not yet. This is my life’s aim in 2016. I’ve heard that it’s reversible. I’ve seen books about it, I’ve heard tell from others that it’s possible. And I’m a very curious guy. I have one additional issue—a leaking atrial valve that pushes excess blood back onto my heart, about a quart per hour according to my cardiologist. Every heart patient has their own unique case. My own case was so unique that it went into the medical journal of studies for doctors. I’ll get to why that is, because obviously I haven’t revealed many details of my case yet, but I think who we are, what we believe, and how we handle various aspects of our life, ends up determining how well we live. So am I a little skeptical that I can reverse heart disease? Yeah, but I think, I think, it’s in the realm of true possibility.
And let’s face it, we all have our habits that can set us back if we’re not careful. I plan to use this blog like a medicine of sorts. And, if you’ll join me, maybe together we can keep each other honest and open about the process. If you don’t have any further interest, believe me I understand. This is a sore spot, not just for America, but for the world.
This is pretty basic, actually. I arise early because these days I work a day-job and most of my days begin between 7 and 8am at an organic market. Anyhow, after I’m awake and relatively at ‘em, I eat some breakfast. Here’s what I’ve been doing for a number of years now, and some of this you may disagree with—so share your feedback in the comments if you like.
I drink some water, a whole glass first. Then about five or ten minutes later I drink a cup of coffee. (In the recent past I was drinking 2 and 3 cups a day, I know—slap my wrist, what a bad boy!) Lately I’ve kept it to one cup. I have, mind you, successfully gone off coffee altogether from the year 2012-2015, and was only drinking black tea. Last year I surprised myself by going out and purchasing a Keurig Mini. I know, what the hell, right?
Anyway after I’ve had my cup and gotten some writing done, I’ll eat breakfast. Now this does vary for me, but I recently got an eye opener about heart-patient low-sodium diets. A few days ago I saw my cardiologist. He asked me if I was on a low-sodium diet. I said sure. He said, “Then I’m going to have to prescribe you a new medication into your repertoire. It’s an ACE inhibitor called Ramipril (2.5MG). It helps lower the blood pressure, for which yours is quite too high right now. It’s either that or surgery.” Imagine my shock on hearing these words. I dumbly accepted the prescription over the surgery—not that I think or thought surgery was the better option at this stage in my life—and left for home, feeling very raw by the time I got home. What had happened?
A low sodium diet for heart patients with hypertension (me) is only allowed 1500Mg’s a day, total. It adds up pretty fast. Most people are consuming an extra 800mgs of it per day at a quality assured amount of 2000. That’s the daily value, the MAX. Most people, myself included, have gone to an establishment like Chipotle and blown it out of the stratosphere with one burrito. Don’t believe me? Go to http://chipotle.com/nutrition-calculator Create your own burrito, or taco and see what happens. I just now created a burrito. Sodium content? 2435! One f-ing burrito! I’ve been eating these lately because I’d been taking my step-son to Parkquor lessons down in Philly and the “boys” go out after. It’s not good for either him or I, but he’s a growing boy and can handle it—plus he doesn’t have hypertension like I do.
Anyway, my day starts with a good low-sodium breakfast (for real) and my medications. Metoprolol Tartrate (for lowering blood pressure, half a pill in the morning), Fish Oil (I take a high dose at over 3000mgs) Vitamin D3 (I happen to be low in it.)
Did I start taking the Ramipril? Not yet. I want to see if there’s any way I can decrease my blood pressure through diet and exercise (I’ve been a regular meditator for over 20 years).
Here’s what I take after the last meal of the day:
I should also note here that each night before I fall asleep, as I lay on my back, I practice Reiki on my heart. I feel this helps a lot.
Additionally, I’ll note here that even after all these years of taking Metoprolol (a tried and true method for reducing high blood pressure), my BP is still high.
Before you go thinking the medication doesn’t work, please understand there are a few complicating factors in this equation. For starters, the medication works very well for me under normal circumstances. My circumstances happen to be abnormally out of whack lately. I’m talking about stress, (poor dietary choices unchecked, even in moderation, make matters worse for heart patients like me), a lack of sustained cardio exercise (different than just getting your 10k steps in per day) and if I forgot to mention it, stress. 😉
I have a lot more to share, but I think this is a good start.