The current state of My Heart

A somewhat long update on my heart health for my family and friends. I want to share this with you all, hopefully to help someone else who may too be experiencing heart issues unknowingly.

I am doing pretty well so far, feeling better than I have, endurance wise, in more than 10 years which further confirms my opinion on my heart condition starting many years before. My heart was only pumping a quarter of the blood it would have normally been pumping prior to the implant surgery. (I now have a combination defibrillator/pacemaker with four wires, two for each side of my heart.)

The stints I do have are fairly clear allowing blood to flow partially where needed, but the muscle itself is quite weak and I have a major in-operable blockage as a result of the right side not functioning properly. One of my cardiologist suggested we pursue a transplant (which of course does not come quickly and not the first time the option has been brought out) but I have not had the formal discussion with him or my other two cardiologist. (I have a whole entire team of fa-nominal doctors here in Cape Canaveral… very blessed to be under their care!) I will cross that bridge soon after I have looked into all of my options and discussed it with my family.

When I first had my heart attack in April of 2012, (after moving to Florida just 5 months before) I spent a great deal of time going through my personal history and could pinpoint a time in which I was under an extreme amount of stress at work and at home. The details are personal, but the event was more than psychological… a physical breakdown happened. My cardiologist confirmed I had a prior attack several years before 2012. It was during that attack that my right ventricle stopped functioning, due to a break in the circuitry that triggers that side of the heart. (I have some nice video of my heart not pumping illustrating it.) I went those years being told I was experiencing asthma issues, could not breath well, was sluggish which lead to my declined physical activity. (I was an avid bicyclist who could go for miles without issue prior to this breakdown.) A walk in the mall was difficult, just keeping up with my kids was a challenge. I went through times of depression and memory loss. Just didn’t have my head on straight so I started seeing a psychologist who did nothing more than prescribe some mind drugs that just made me not care about it. And the steady decline just continued with weight gain and continued stress.

Yes I have a family history of heart disease, proven by a genetic study performed in 2012 when I was being prepped for emergency transplant surgery. A common missing chromosome in American Indians, which has to do with the regulation of cholesterol; meaning my body can’t combat bad cholesterol (LDL). Basically any bad cholesterol is bad news for me.

Diet is a tough subject, but the industrial age has brought it’s fair share of damage to our environment and the foods we ingest. Produce, meats, grains… all poisoned by the air we and the livestock breath and the plants used as feed. Then to cut costs, we process food with chemicals to “eliminate” the need to maintain cleanliness. (Seriously, they bleach most meats in mass production then pump the meat full of dye and preservatives instead of just keeping the processing facilities clean!) I don’t lay all blame to the foods we are served and sold, I was a fast food junkie due to my seriously screwed up lifestyle. I did a then and now comparison of my diet and all I can say is wow, I am surprised the toxins alone in the Whoppers, Whataburgers, and McNuggets hadn’t poisoned me. (The smell of those items alone makes me sick now. Pizza, geez the list goes on.)

So the moral of the story, take it serious when you are under a great deal of stress and do something about it before it undoes you. We may think we are strong and that can never happen to use, but we are very intricate bio-machines that are quite fragile. Love yourself enough to admit there is something wrong. I was in denial even when my family and friends were telling me something was wrong. It’s not happening to me… I remember that going through my head. My friend John found me passed out on the floor on morning asking if I was ok, early 2009 I think it was. I had collapsed unconscious after driving home in the early morning from a Sunday Night Jam session, still holding a Whataburger vanilla shake in my hand… and I still denied I had a serious problem.

I watched what my Grandmother Tafoya experienced when she went through bypass surgery in 1988 or 89 I think it was. It left me terrified I would possibly face the same fate. Many family members have passed on both sides from hearty failure. I lost an uncle just last year who at 56 had his last of several heart failures. My father experienced congestive failure at a young age (and God willing is still with us). Several other family members passed from heart disease.

Yes I could have avoid all of this if I had loved myself enough to admit I had to make changes in my life instead of fearing it. Then again, only time tells what really happens. Now, I spend every day being thankful I have that day. I am learning to live a life of love, patience, and virtue. I am blessed to have three amazing children, and one granddaughter and one grandson on the way. I have been given a second chance at life I don’t necessarily agree I deserve but am not ungrateful in the least.

I am a living testament to a higher power with even a deeper belief and faith as a result of what I have witnessed throughout all of this. The love of my family, my friends (from all over the country!), and the medical staff who have cared for me… that is the miracle of God… because God IS Love, and Love is God. Not a “I died and went to heaven” story, a true miracle through the hands and hearts of the good men and woman in my life.

Today I stood on the stage with my friends with the strength to sing and make music like I did in my youth. I can continue to share love through music and friendship with the gifts and talents I have been given.

My love to all of you, and great thanks for your love and support. I want nothing more than for all of you to live your lives to the fullest! I hope in sharing my story I can help someone live a better life. I miss you, my West Coast family and friends I have not seen in some time now. But I miss my immediate family the most. I hope to see you my children soon, my mom and dad, and my brother and sister. If I can manage it, I will return to the stage in AZ for a few nights of music and friendship with my AZ musical family and friends as well! Peace and Love to you!

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