Saturday, February 21, 2015

February Update

It's been a while since I found enough to write about to post an update. Now it has been 2 months since my heart attack on December 12, 2014. I spent a week in the hospital, the first 2 days really out of it. The docs thought I had had a seizure, but they could not find an obvious cause, so they treated me for several potential causes. To be safe, they put me on Keppra, an anti-seizure medication, which is very powerful and made me overreact to irritants. I lobbied to get off Keppra. I followed an abbreviated weaning schedule to cut down and then off. My neurologist proposed a less abrupt schedlule, but the result was the same. No seizures. Much more controllable irritation.

Second Opinion: I decided that another set of tests and scans would most probably give as anomalous results as the materials we have now. A counsin I have been in touch with through my genealogy work offered to look over my records and has made some helpful suggestions.

Cardiac Rehab Progress: I have been going to Phil Ades' well-recognized cardiac rehabilitation program. He argues that CR is a much more cost effective way of dealing with cardiac trouble than high-tech, high-price procedures. Once you have a stent, you can prevent the next event or even reverse the build-up of plaque by losing weight, getting fitter, reducing blood pressure ....  along with lowering cholesterol with medication.

Speech and Language: The therapist called to talk about our upcoming appointment. After we spoke for a while she allowed as how I might not need her services. So she sent a hint sheet. Drink enough water. Try to find a synonym when you can't find the exact word -- the word will come later. If you want to help me practice my word-finding language skills, give me a call.

Executive Functioning: Another change has been in my ability to organize things. Putting together a list is a good way to deal with projects that have multiple steps. Practice recovering from distraction. Now there's the challange. Or maybe avoid distraction.

Stress Management: One of the most interesting pieces of the rehab program is a series of 5 classes on how to manage stress. A psychiatrist who had a heart attack 20 years ago is giving back to the program by offering these sessions, along with a colleague. He cited Hans Selye's general adaptation syndromeWhat I learned: When we are going around the circle sharing what makes us stress, we are each thinking about what we are going to say instead of paying complete attention to what is being said.

There is a large variety of ways people get heart attacks. Although Type A "doers" are stereotypical, our rehab group has a good showing of procrastinators and people with family situations (drugs, deadly disease, demented parents) that bring stress. I might think I don't belong here because I am very fit, I know the literature, I got a mantra in the 1960s and do yoga meditation for a short while each morning, and I ride my bike to counteract anxiety and depression, yet I got a heart attack. I wonder if each of us thinks they are a special case until we get into such a group.

There are many factors leading to cardiac artery disease, some of which we can control, and some we cannot . (such as genetics). I feel much better now that I am off the Keppra, but the challange now is a abscess or lesion on my foot that makes it hard to exercise. I am back on antibiotics to counteract the swelling and redness. When people hear about the lesion and the neuropathy, they think "Diabetes." But the definitive tests do not bear out this diagnosis.

In any case, I am doing much better.


George P. Lynes, II said...

Glad to hear of your progress! Yes, there seem to be myriad reasons for all sorts of health problems. Though I've never had a heart attack, 14 years ago at age 63 I had a stroke (not a TIA) as a result of a clogged carotid artery. Several "events" later, usually chest pain resulting in angioplasty (and five more stents in other arteries), I feel fine. The CAD and COPD (diagnosed 5 years ago) are obvious results of many years of smoking, until 15 years ago, and probably not enough exercise.
Keep up the good work!

Richard Pargament said...

So glad to hear about your great progress! I'm going to bring my bike to our Bard class reunion; you do the same. We can relieve depression/anxiety together. Best, Pargie