My Heart Health

Some History

For several years I had been feeling unfit, having gained weight I could not control. I was experiencing Fibromyalgia like symptoms which I had thought was allergy related. (As a child I was diagnosed with Steven Johnson’s Syndrome and was left with a damaged immune system, experiencing many difference allergies.) I was dealing with a great amount of stress; was self employed  and struggling with the economy tanking (and no medical coverage to boot!). I had been visiting a family doctor and was diagnosed with high blood pressure, something I was not unfamiliar with as I was first diagnosed when I was 16. I was also given a prescription grade of Naproxen for the pain I was experiencing. I was spending a great deal of time traveling between California and home on business and struggling to sleep and the amount of pain increasing gradually. But I continued to push forward, making the best of the situation as much as I could!

It was after visiting a friend in Florida the summer of 2011 I had decided a change was needed to get away from the desert heat and pollution. (There had been record pollen and pollution levels for quite a long time and my Asthma was acting up, or so I thought.) I moved to Cape Canaveral Florida to live near sea level and in the ocean air, a much more affordable and healthier location over California which had been my first choice. At first I was feeling great, adjusting well to the climate and spending a great amount of time out on the beach and bicycling. It all suddenly changed in December when I started to feel sick with what I thought was a respiratory infection. After the first of the year I felt like I had Pneumonia and I went to an Urgent Care facility here in Cocoa Beach, the doctor took one look at me and said he recommended I be taken to the ER as I was in respiratory arrest. I was in disbelief, but knew something had to give so I went in. And the story continues below. (from bottom to top)

Family History

Both sides of my family have a history of heart disease, many of them experiencing issues at young ages like myself. I also have on one side a history of diabetes and sever arthritis on the other. (All of the issues I have and continue to experience as well as some major allergies and Asthma.)

Current Diagnosis

At this point we are waiting to see if my heart function improves before going any further. If it does not, it is very likely I will be headed down the path of surgery. Through meditation, prayer, and exercise I continue to work on maintained a positive attitude and keep my stress level at a minimum.

Thank you!!!!

I appreciate everyone’s love, prayers, and support! You have no idea how much everyone’s support had helped me in dealing with this tragic situation. God Bless all of you!

  • January 8th, 2013 – Home – I am fairing well so far, most of the time I am feeling strong and living a somewhat normal life. I am without medical coverage once again and have some options I am looking into to help with my prescriptions. I am just thankful at this point that I am feeling better and have the energy to get out and be physical which will greatly help me build up endurance and strength and drop the weight I need.
  • August 6th, 2012 – Home – Today I visited my cardiologist to learn the results of the Echocardiogram and blood work. Heart function is at 31 (was at 25 when hospitalized) which the cardiologist told me most people above 30 can function fairly normally without running marathons. Added Tricor to handle the high triglycerides.
  • July 14th, 2012 – Home – Some time this coming week or two I will have an Echocardiogram as well as blood work to determine if my heart function has improved, with a visit with my cardiologist on the 8th of August. I have been feeling quite well, sleepy still, but stronger!
  • June 26th, 2012 – Home – Not much has changed, still struggling with memory issues or rather focus issues. Weather has been rainy so I am not getting the exercise I need but am getting out at least.
  • June 19th, 2012 – Home – So far so good as the saying goes. I am trying to keep active, bike riding and walking as much as I can. The weather has been nice so I am taking advantage of it!
  • June 9th, 2012 – Home – Still slowly recovering, no g-news is good g-news! Still working through the paperwork for Medicare/Medicaid. And still loosing weight!
  • May 24th, 2012 – Home – I am approved for disability and social security benefits now, a weight off of my shoulders for sure! Another phone interview and more paperwork to provide!
  • May 23rd, 2012 – Home – Dropped in to pick up some medications from my doctors office and was approached by my doctor who was quite pleased with how much weight I have lost. Granted a good portion was water weight when I was last weighted in the office the day I was admitted for congestive failure (259), I am down to 225! 30 more pounds is my goal.
  • May 15th, 2012 – Home – Things have balanced out well it appears, meds seem to be just right and I feel better than I have in many years. I am very limited yet as far as what I can physically can do (no marathons yet!) but that will hopefully come with time. Now to work through the bureaucracy! I am financially challenged being out of work now so that is my next issue to work out.
  • May 8th, 2012 – Cape Canaveral Hospital – I just had some fantastic news. Yesterday’s procedure was such a success that my prognosis has completely changed. The doctors feel my heart is now on a healing path aided by the meds and stints. At this point bypass surgery or a transplant is off the table but will be a long road to recovery. But there is nothing better than knowing my own heart is recovering! I am in tears of joy and thanks. And I am going home today too! The power of faith and prayer in amazing!
  • May 7th, 2012 – Cape Canaveral Hospital – The procedure was a success and I am in recovery.
  • May 5th, 2012 – Cape Canaveral Hospital – OK, new news now that all of the test results are in and studied. I will be going in Monday for another Cardiac Catheterization. Hopes are to open some of the blockage and try to improve my lung function. My cardiologist believes there is too much restriction and is what contributed to what may have been a small attach on Friday morning. I have been on an anti-coagulant for the past day and am responding well, again improving my hearts function. Not what I was hoping to hear but still forward movement to keep my heart going.
  • May 4th, 2012 – Home – Cape Canaveral Hospital – During the early morning I experienced what I thought may be heart failure and called an ambulance. I was admitted to the ER where all was stabilized, then admitted to the heart unit by my physician. The cardiologist on duty decided to re-evaluate my condition and ordered an Echo Cardiogram. I will know more tomorrow.
  • Apr 27th, 2012 – Home – Besides sleep a lot the meds are keeping me stable and I am feeling pretty good. Watching my diet for sodium, cholesterol, and big scary monsters is going well. I am working on getting my financial documents in order for ACCESS so I can finalize the Medicare process. Being very patient at this point!
  • Apr 22nd, 2012 – Home – I have been home for a couple days now, working on making the necessary changes in my life. Had an food allergy scare early this morning when I woke up and grabbed a small cup of fruit as a snack (which is what I am recommended to do). When I was younger I had several fruit allergies but had outgrown most of them, but apparently one still exists: watermelon. (I was tested with over 500 major allergies when I was 16.) And when I was very young I had Stevens–Johnson syndrome which is an disorder of the immune system caused by an reaction to a medication which further complicated my immune system. I am thinking that with the stress of my heart problems and the medications my immune system is weak and these allergies still exist. It’s just something else to watch for besides sodium, fat, carbs, and the scary monsters living on the hill. 🙂
    I am adjusting to living with the Life Vest, nice knowing should I have a heart failure the device will attempt to revive me. My next challenge is more financial as I evaluate my future and follow up on all of the bureaucracy involved.
  • Apr 20th, 2012 – Cape Canaveral Hospital – Life Vest is on (http://lifevest.zoll.com/) and I am going home today!
  • Apr 19th, 2012 – Cape Canaveral Hospital – I am going to be fit for a Wearable Cardioverter Defibrillator (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wearable_cardioverter_defibrillator) so that I can basically go home medicated with monitoring. The process has begun to get me on a transplant but will take some time. I figure I have a few days here then will be discharged. The general consensus is that my heart is not strong enough for surgery at this time.
  • Apr 18th, 2012 – Holmes Regional Medical Center – Cape Canaveral Hospital – I am being transferred back to Cape Canaveral Hospital with my physician via ambulance to await the processing of Medicaid and what not. Still no word on the viability study or the status if acceptance into Shandes.
  • Apr 17th, 2012 – Holmes Regional Medical Center – I am going to undergo a Heart Viability Study some time today which will determine the depth of scar tissue. This will help them determine the best course of action next, including transplant as an option. Other than that it is a quite/lonely day in this ICU. UPDATE: Just completed the first part of the Viability Study, have one more in the morning.
  • Apr 16th, 2012 – Holmes Regional Medical Center – The medical team after meeting with several other physicians on staff determined it is in my best interest to move to the Shands Cardiovascular Center at the University of Florida in Gainesville, putting my bypass on hold. Shands provides not only transplants but heart pumps which Holmes does neither. They are in the process of filling for disability so the financial side of things is a holdup.
  • Apr 14th, 2012 – Holmes Regional Medical Center – I was transported via Ambulance to Holmes Regional Medical Center. I spent the next couple days just undergoing tests mostly waiting for Monday when the medical team meets to discuss my situation. Triple bypass surgery is tentatively scheduled for Monday afternoon.
  • Apr 13th, 2012 – Cape Canaveral Hospital – I underwent a Cardiac Catheterization to determine the cause of the congestive heart failure. In the past day I had an EKG, Echo Cardiogram, and fasting in preparation. One of the attending physicians expressed concern about diabetes and I underwent so testing. Testing showed negative, but a strange results was found that during fasting my blood sugar would skyrocket. The results determined that my heart was in failure operating at 20% and in need of bypass surgery. The then made arrangements to move me to Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne with is known as a top Cardio facility. (Cape Canaveral is not outfitted for bypass surgery.)
  • Apr 11th, 2012 – Cape Canaveral Hospital – During a visit with my primary care physician, she determined I was in congestive failure and had me admitted to the ER at Cape Canaveral. They immediately worked to reduce the water weight that had been straining my body for the past few weeks. When I awoke this morning my legs and feet had swollen, I jokingly referred to myself as the Nutty Professor. During the past couple of days I began having conversations with myself not even noticing until Courtney was over and while we where sitting together watching TV I just went on about something in my mind then included Courtney in on the conversation. I think it is safe to say that I was not getting the oxygen penetration to my brain, either that or I was just loosing it!
  • Apr 9th, 2012 – Home – Courtney pointed out my lack of energy noticing my coughing and sleepiness. I had already scheduled an appointment with Dr Olga for the 11th so was just waiting it out.
  • Apr 1st, 2012 – Home – I began to take a turn south, feeling exhausted and loosing my ability to maintain focus. I was easy short winded just trying to walk along the beach with my friends Jim and Carla. This weekend I spent at home just resting, treating it as a respiratory issue.
  • March 3rd, 2012 – Home – Visit with Respiratory Specialist showing a good recovery on lung function with only a 3 month follow-up scheduled.
  • Jan 11th, 2012 – Cape Canaveral Hospital – Home – Released home after my oxygen level was finally maintaining above 96%.
  • Jan 6th, 2010 – Cape Canaveral Hospital – Determined I have COPD with a growth in my right lung. No signs of pneumonia, but the Echo cardiogram shows decreased heart functionality. (It was noted by the reviewing cardiologist that it was at roughly 45%, but this information was not shared with me as a potential issue.)
  • Jan 4th, 2012 – Cape Canaveral Hospital – Admitted to Cape Canaveral Hospital after a brief visit to a local Urgent Care facility where my blood oxygen level was at 49%. The doctor feared I had pneumonia.