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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Quadruple Heart By Pass Surgery

My brother-in-law is fond of a quote from Forrest Gump played by Tom Hanks from a 1994 film about a mentally challenged man's epic journey through life while influencing pop culture and experiencing historical events while being mostly unaware of their significance.

"My momma always said, "Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get."

I can relate to that statement first hand recently. A month ago, I was walking between 1 hour to perhaps 1.5 hours 6 or 7 days a week on average. I had been doing this for months. In addition to that I was doing squats with dumb bells, and on average 75-100 push ups every other day for months. To that routine I was doing stretching and abdominal exercises every day. I was pain free and had absolutely ZERO symptoms of any heart disease or cardiovascular problems.

A little BLURP as I call it on a resting EKG at my Joslin Diabetes Clinic routine check up led to a series of events over the next 5 or 6 weeks which landed me in the OR at St. Joe's hospital in Syracuse, NY. The resting EKG was followed up with a nuclear EKG treadmill stress test locally which in turn was followed up with a heart catheritization at St. Joe's and on Wednesday the 24th of July resulted in quadruple bypass surgery.

I have posted here the major factors contributing to heart disease. I will post them again here:

  • Hypertension / high blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise - inactivity/ couch potato syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Unhealthy diet
  • FAMILY HISTORY - gene pool
(IN a separate category) I would put smoking and alcohol abuse / excessive drinking) These are 100% within one's control and I would recommend to do whatever it takes to eliminate both of these from your bad habit list. I know it is not IS worth it. Dan

Some of these are in our control and some of them are not. Out of the (7) factors listed above, THREE of them are in your direct control (exercise habits, obesity and eating a healthy diet).  Hypertension and blood lipid profile readings including cholesterol levels are at least controllable with diet, natural supplements and as a last resort prescription drugs. Type 2 diabetes is controllable and today preventable IF caught early on and dietary and exercise changes are made. I recently did a post on the role that our genetic code / gene pool / I.E. Family history plays Unfortunately as the old saying goes, "You can pick your friends, however you are stuck with your family" Don't take that the wrong way, as I love my family and I appreciate everything my family did for me and taught me growing up. I am speaking of the genetics that I inherited from them. In that respect, I can NOT go back and change any of that.

I have known for a long time that heart disease played a large role on my Dad's side of the family tree. I consider myself fortunate as I at least had a working knowledge of that situation as I got older. I have friends who have absolutely NO information on their family tree genetics.

I share all of this with you to give all of you a sense of HOPE. Here is some advice from a quadruple heart bypass survivor to you:

If heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, triglycerides etc. run in your family tree, you need to check with your doctor by your mid thirties about having certain benchmark tests run such as EKG's, frequent blood pressure monitoring, blood lipid profile panels, and perhaps a nuclear stress test EKG and a heart Catheritization.

IF you are overweight, TAKE IT SERIOUSLY, lose the weight, give up the empty calorie foods, the carbonated sodas, all foods containing high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils (99% of the entire crunchy/munchies isle of your grocery store). Make water your primary beverage. Eat more fruits and fresh veggies.

Try for between 25-35 grams of FIBER a day in your diet. I like oatmeal with two scoop's of organic ground flax seed (FOR Omega 3's) on it. Green smoothies from a Vita Mixer (vs.) juicing is better as the Vita Mixer liquefies the PULP and fiber and allows you to drink it.

EXERCISE: If you do nothing else, walk. Walk slow at first and gradually increase both your distance and your pace. SET Goals.....and after a while you will find your morning walk (or afternoon or evening) the most enjoyable part of your day. Work your way up to a 2 mile a day goal. I would love to be able to assure you that this will eliminate any worry or concern over heart disease, diabetes and even surgery later in life. Unfortunately my own life does not bear this out. I CAN tell you that being in the BEST SHAPE YOU CAN POSSIBLY BE IN will help you a lot in recovery from any surgery that may be necessary.

My surgery took place on July 24th, 2013 at St. Joe's hospital in Syracuse, NY. I was in the OR for approximately 8 to 9 hours and then spent the night in the intensive care unit. Was it SCARY? I would say the "scariest" single day perhaps I ever experienced. How did I counter that? I gave it all to the Lord. I put myself in His hands and laid it all down at the cross. I went in with confidence that there were a lot of folks praying for my recovery and a new lease on life. I also thought about all the folks who told me stories of knowing people who had this operation in their mid 60's and lived to be well into their 90's.

 My own Dad had a triple bypass probably 22 years ago give or take and lived perhaps 8 or 9 years after that experience. The technology available today is "light years" ahead of what was done for my Dad. The procedure's major components of having your sternum cut open, veins taken out of one or both legs, to be used in bypassing blocked or partially blocked arteries etc. are the same. The procedure itself and subsequent healing is much refined.  I am blessed and fortunate that I unlike my Dad had NO heart damage or any heart attacks prior to the surgery. Dad had a heart attack around the age of 60 or a little before and prior to his triple bypass. His triple bypass surgery was done somewhere between 1991 to 1993.

 He ultimately died of congestive heart failure. He was on numerous drugs ever since the first heart attack. He had several other "episodes" which never were clearly defined as heart attacks. He had angina and popped nitros frequently towards the end. Most of his siblings died from heart problems including a sister at age 30 of a heart attack. He outlived them all.

I have limited details or recollection of Dad's heart disease. I do NOT ignore or dismiss it, however I put my faith in the Lord and in the technology and advances in treating heart disease since the mid 1980's when my Dad was dealing with it. Paying special attention to exercise and diet is something that I do have control of.

I thank the good Lord above, that I live in an era where this technology exists. A 100 years ago with the same blocked arteries, for example if I had been a cowboy, I would likely have fallen off my horse during a cattle drive with cause of death.......UNKNOWN, I may have simply died in my sleep or dropped on my nose while in full stride walking from one place to another.

Today is the 13th day from my surgery including the day of my surgery. The most frequent question I have been asked I the last 13 days is, "ON a scale of 1 to 10, what is your pain level?" The last few days it has been between ZERO and possibly 2 or 3 tops at different times of the day".

I have been taking (1) pain pill at bedtime which is down from the 4 or more per day while in recovery at the hospital. Yesterday I walked 1.5 miles around my development. As I write this, my pain level is ZERO. By the end of this week, my goal is to be back at 2 miles a day.

I am eternally grateful to the good Lord above for watching over me, the surgeon's and medical staff at St. Joe's, the technology and research that is available today and just to be ALIVE. A special thanks to the Joslin Diabetes clinic for the resting EKG.

I am doing this post since my entire purpose of this BLOG is to HELP others, to be HONEST, to practice what I preach to to perhaps encourage and enlighten other's on my findings.

KEEP the faith and I welcome any comments or discussion, and/or other's experiences with type 2 Diabetes and heart disease and possibly their own surgery,

God Bless,


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