Saturday, March 5, 2011

You Can't Control How You Die....But You Can Control How You Live!

Just an update to let you know that so far my heart is looking good. A tiny bulge in the atrial septum (which could be something I was born with), which is the reason for the "bubble test". I can tell you that as a nurse, you are taught to NEVER push air through a patients veins to watch a nurse (even a seasoned cardiac nurse) push saline/air 3 times in your body while watching for bubbles in the heart is a strange experience!! I still haven't figured out what keeps you from having an embolism! I Will find out the results of that test hopefully Monday (which tells me that if there is a hole, if so, it must not be huge since they let me go home last night)!

But other than that, I seem to be heart healthy!! The EKG was not totally normal, but seems to be an age related change. All in all, it was a scary 24 hours, but I feel certain that I have been checked out well!! Vanderbilt Heart did not let me down (other than when the intake nurse told me to remove my "training bra" and shared that the kind of stress test I was having was the "big one before the heart cath!)!! They took good care of me, and put up with me asking a million questions and wanting to see every picture they were taking! Apparently I nailed the treadmill test! They told me that if I was flying within the next 3 days the radioactive material would show up on the detectors at the airport, so I would need a note! Very comforting that all that work I have done to DETOX my body has now been messed up with radioactive isotopes! Looks like I am back on the DETOX Monday!

Lessons learned:

1. DON'T wait until you think your are having a heart attack (or stroke etc) to find out your family history! It may just be too late to do anything about it at that point. You can't fight genetics!!

2. You ARE what you eat!!! So don't be on your way to the hospital thinking about all of the years you ate processed, fast, not REAL food and wondering if the damage done is too much to reverse!!

3. If you are reading this (doesn't matter how old you are).....MAKE lifestyle changes NOW and take your life back! I am a poster child for believing I am bullet proof and famous for too many years of burning the candle at both ends and thriving on more, more, more!! It will kill, kill, kill you!! I promise!

4. Get out an move!!! Even if you are only walking 10 minutes at a time, do that 2-3 times at least 3-5 days a week and start pumping some blood through your veins!!!

5. Realize that no matter what, ultimately we are not in control of when or where we might take our last breathe! But it IS in our control to live the best, cleanest, most pure life we can while we are given the GIFT of life (and yes, it is a GIFT)!! Kiss/hug/ your kids and anyone your love daily...because you don't know that when you leave the house that morning that you will be returning that evening! (and yes Jackson, I am preaching on death again!)

6. You can't control how you die....but you can control how you LIVE!!!

7. Breathe!!!

I have been telling my patients daily to pick up Dr. Josh Axes new cookbook called : The Real Food Diet ! It is loaded with EDUCATION and amazing REAL FOOD recipes! If you are not familiar with Dr. Axe, I would highly recommend that you find his Facebook page and also sign up for his newsletter! He is a chiropractor in town that is a genius in my opinion on nutrition and living a CLEAN lifestyle. He sends us patients weekly as I do him! Check him out! You won't be sorry! I am making his famous Kale chips today!

Thanks guys for the prayers, calls, texts, emails.....I am doing well! But, you can bet that this encounter with my mortality has opened my eyes and my heart to what it really means to LIVE LIFE....and I intend to do a better job it it......starting NOW!



Friday, March 4, 2011

Note to Self: Know your family history BEFORE you have a cardiac event!!

Note to Self: Know your family history BEFORE you have a cardiac event!!

I learned first hand yesterday that BEFORE you think you are having an heart attack or you have an EKG that says you have had some sort of cardiac event happen to you it would behoove one to have knowledge of one’s family history. I can speak from experience that the time to find out about major (as in sudden cardiac death) life altering events with one’s ancestors is ideally not when one is driving themselves to the cardiology department at Vanderbilt for a sudden visit with the cardiologist!! I can assure you that if I was going to have 4 hours off yesterday afternoon and all day today off, I would prefer to be doing something other than heart studies!!
I have had a few episodes the past three months of some pretty intense chest pain/pressure and diaphoresis that lasted for several minutes. The first one was on the acupuncture table with Dr. Wu out of the room and I had 60 needles in my face! I thought at one point I was going to have to get up and get help, but eventually the pain subsided. I was visualizing me stumbling into the hall at the office with little children there and me holding my chest with all those needles in my face like Pinhead from Hellraiser! Those parents would be paying therapy bills for years after their kids witnessed that! I had 2 more incidents like that and the last one was yesterday morning.
As usual our day was busy, busy, busy at the office. But eventually I got my nurse to do an EKG on me. Words can’t describe Dr. Kalb’s face when I asked him to read the EKG for me, and when he was told it was mine. He immediately had Maggie redo it thinking that the leads must have been switched. Same results, different nurse. I had a new patient waiting to be seen, and as we all know….hormones trump cardiac events in a time like this! When the patient ask me how I was doing I thought it best that I not tell her “I think I’ve had a heart attack recently and all hell is breaking lose outside this door”, instead I smiled and said “great, and you?” Dr. Kalb proceeds to tell me in his diplomatic way after I saw the patient that “it seems you have had one major or a few minor heart attacks at some point.”. What the heck? Apparently as I was meeting the new patient he was on the phone with cardiology and when I came out of the room he had an appointment for me to get to Vandy stat! I am driving down the road with my EKG that says something about at a left anterior block etc…..and wondering who the heck will get my kids after school!
Decided to quickly call my parents to get a family history, since I had never really thought much about it in my 45 years of life. First shocker and cause for 2 more cardiac events in my heart was that my maternal grandfather was the 13th person in the US to have open heart surgery here in Nashville, and both of his brothers (my uncles) died suddenly of cardiac arrest before the age of 49! My sweet mother says, didn’t you know that he died “in the middle of Kentucky Fried Chicken delivering milk”…well hell no I didn’t know anyone died of cardiac arrest, much less 2 uncles! My mother does have pretty severe mitral valve prolapse as well (which I was aware of). My father proceeds tell me that his father died at the age of 49 in the backseat of the car as grandmother was driving on vacation of a sudden cardiac arrest! None of these relatives had any idea they had heart problems!!! For crying out loud….here I am driving on I65 to get to Vandy and suddenly find out that I have 5 relatives (and not distant ones at that) and 3 of them had no warning at all, with heart problems!
I was in the exam room within 5 minutes of walking into the cardiology department….divine intervention indeed! Dr. Irani was impressed with my family history (his words, not mine). He is impressed and I am horrified! He said that with a history like that I automatically have 3 risks factors for heart disease no matter what my EKG says. My repeat EKG shows some sort of event, but not as bad as the one at the office showed! Praise God, but he did send me for an ECHO and told me we would either be going directly to have a heart cath or have a nuclear stress test today. Thank God, I am off to have a stress test and not the cath! Besides, I argued with him that I would prefer to have the cath in the daytime when the doctor and staff are fresh and not in the evening when everyone is tired! He wasn’t amused and let me know that I was not in charge of when or if I get the cath!
Moral of this story is that it’s a good idea to have a good family history for all disease!! Not just heart disease….the time to find out your family is riddled with sudden cardiac events is not when you are on your way to the cardiologist!!
The kicker to this is that I am healthier now than I have ever been! I have been detoxifying my life and body for the past year. Working on my adrenal glands and hormones as well as well training for the ½ marathon. My life has been focused on my children, my God and my health since getting out of school and burning the candle at both ends for way too many years! My hope is that it’s not too late to reverse whatever is going on! But in case it is, I am getting a mani/pedi today and my house is clean…just in case! All joking aside, when it’s time to go, doesn’t matter if your toenails are painted or your toilet is clean….when it’s time it’s time! Better be ready!!

PS: I got a new patient yesterday while waiting to see the cardiologist! Dr. Irani’s nurse asked for my card and is making an appointment! Whoohoo!!

Integrative Family Medicine