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Annual checkup plus some personal notes
This post is about how I’ve managed my CAD, the information I have taken in from my Dr’s, trial and error, plus a status of where I’m at four and a half years later.
So, I had my annual cardiologist visit today. I was late to this because of a lot of things going on during the year. It was meant to be my four-year checkpoint but ended up being my four-and-a-half-year visit. As most of you know I am not anti “pharma” and I trust my Dr’s. I view medications like tools and medical professionals like my coaches, and I am happy to have both.
So today, my cardiologist said that I would be able to cut my statin dose in half since my numbers are very low. Less than 100 mg in total. The guideline he provided was that if my LDL remains under 70 then I could downsize to 40 mg per day dose instead of the current 80 mg dose. I plan to go in for bloodwork to check progress three months after I throttle down. I will remain on beta-blockers. Was hoping to explore alternatives but he’s happy with this protocol so that’s where I am staying. Aspirin, CoQ10 (which was my own addition – not a Dr recommendation) and a multi-vitamin remain as well.
My heart attack was precipitated by a blockage in my LAD, but all other areas were clear according to my Dr. So, while my stent is now over 4 years old, things seem to be going along well.
To combat some of the belly weight that both being newly 50 and the beta-blockers may be contributing to, I’m at 23% body fat fat ratio right now, dad-bod for sure, I will be switching to an 18-hour fasting regimen. With the help of a personal trainer I plan to see every other week I hope to push that number down as much as I can. My weight sits in at 175 lbs., I want to hit 162 lbs. within a 10-month period. All this is to support my 2020 goals of hiking both the Wonderland and the John Muir Trails. Strength and endurance improvements are the main goal here, not swimsuit readiness.
Diet-wise I am eating chicken, fish, turkey, bison, lots of fruits/veggies/grains. I also have been having, and plan to continue, having an occasional cheat meal (not cheat day) and treat myself to pizza, French Fries, cheeseburgers, and ice cream. I quit drinking, however, I will have a glass of wine now and then when the occasion calls for it. Like morel mushrooms. I think it’s a crime not to eat morels without a really great glass of Oregon Pinot Noir.
I let my numbers guide me. I share all my info and patterns with my medical professionals who serve as a sounding board helping me to make informed decisions. They are not responsible for me. I am. Though I am grateful for their help.
Anyway, I hope this perspective aids someone out there. It’s not prescriptive, I’m not a medical or diet professional. I’m just a guy navigating his way through living with CAD (and bouts of depression and anxiety), turning 50 recently while striking a balance between what I love and what I can realistically do.
I meditate daily and perform breathing exercises. I try not to turn down the opportunity for intimacy when it chooses to show up. I work on being open and transparent more than I used to with my feelings. I even spent the last 6 months walking and hiking as workouts. Stopped running for a time in fact. And, much to my surprise, everything was fine. However, I am now preparing to get back into lifting weights, one of my post-heart attack goblins there, and have a string of really challenging hikes with my 25 lbs. backpack on my back for the entire Fall and Winter seasons ahead of 2020.
I guess what I learned through all this is that it’s OK to choose to not be afraid. Or at least, in my case, stop reacting to the fear in my head. Choose your own path based on what you enjoy. Always keep in touch with your Dr’s but don’t self-monitor yourself into hysteria over numbers that always fluctuate. As I walked to my appointment this morning, in fact, I meditated on all of the hikes and good times I’ve had over the last four years. Fear was doing it’s best to present itself. I’m happy to say that, what I once thought might be a foolish attempt to make memories, pursuing all the things I have, to bring more enjoyment into my life, well… it actually worked. I went into the appointment and was ready to accept good or bad news.
I know you all get this. It’s our day to day with heart disease. It’s just nice to finally be in a place where, yeah, it’s still there, but I feel much more like myself than I have in a long long time.
I wanted to write this in the spirit of love and kindness with the hope that all of us can find a spot where everything just feels right and OK. Yeah, nothing lasts, today is a gift, but… today is today none the less.
Lastly, this forum and the courageous people here who have shared of themselves, both the good and the difficult, have been no small part of my journey. Being a part of this community felt weird, at first, but I can’t express how grateful I am for everyone on the AHASN. You are some of my strongest heroes.
OneOmega, August 30, 2019 5:56pm EST
You have done admirably in finding your new path in life Jeff. Bless those tonight that have assisted your efforts.
Be well, be happy and find peace
Cath4, August 30, 2019 10:14pm EST
Its so great to hear how well you are doing & how well you seem to be! Congratulations & keep up the good work! I hope & pray that I can get there someday! Thanks for always being encouraging!
JamesPL, August 31, 2019 6:08pm EST
Great post! I'm so glad for your success and really apreciate your inspiration. Regarding your weight goals, might I offer some advice? First of all, I'm not sure you need to get there but being a person who lost a dozen pounds after heart surgery almost eight years ago and has surprisingly kept it off, I'd like to share what has worked for me. I went in at around 175 pounds and came home from the hospital at around 163 and continue to hover there to this day even though I fully expected to put it all back on. I don't think it's what you do in exercise but the persistence and frequency with which you do it. I do morning calisthenics every day before work. I run consistently 3 to 4 days a week although I've slowed in recent years. Most evenings (4 to 5 days) I do weight training and during the warm weather, I bike ride about 20 miles at least once a week. The biking is more about my love of riding and getting out into some beautiful nature trails I'm fortunate to live near. All this has worked well for me and my cardiologist has been very happy with my numbers and the performance results of my stress tests. I'm as engulfed in these exercises as you are in hiking and your love of nature. Although I recognize the importance of taking days off, I couldn't imagine life as a couch potato. To those who have asked me "do you think you'll live forever?" I respond that it is not about longevity but about the quality of life. I have a lot of energy and I fully attribute it to my conditioning life style. To each his own!
Thanks again for a great post and you are truly an inspiration!
Keep it up!
seattledave, September 2, 2019 11:11am EST
Hey Jeff.. good report card. Most of all it sounds like you've really gotten past, or at least learned to manage, the mental blocks.
Keep the posts coming. Always enjoy hearing from ya.
VGAHGAN, September 2, 2019 5:43pm EST
Thank you so much for sharing your news and your story. Being new to this, it is comforting to know that the path has been trod before (a nod to hiking) and that it does get better. :)
vipsy75, September 3, 2019 2:47pm EST
Very nice Jeff - Always love listening to words of wisdom from you - it is super helpful to me as i go through my journey - i am 18 months post my MI and always look at you as my senior and for guidance - keep up the great work - thank you so much
RaizAli, September 5, 2019 3:46am EST
Great post Jeff,
Yes,you are Pro-Pharma guy, rightly, beyond doubt by now 😊👍.
Guideline by your cardiologist ? If your HDL remains under 70, as you wrote ??? I thought over 40 is normal and higher it is healthier your are. Mine remained under 40 for a couple of years but now it’s 45 and I’m very happy for that. I have shredded 8.5 Kgs in last 4 months through diet and jogging. I think that helped me a lot to normalise my lipid profile. Your total cholesterol less than 100 is wonderful news.
You measure your body fat manually Jeff ? With a measuring tap, neck, chest, butts, bla, bla, bla?
With 5’ 8” height my weight stands at 170 pounds at the moment, pardon, sits at 😊I’m aiming it minus 150 pounds by the end of current year. Quite an optimistic target ? Yes, it is.Let’s see !!
Your love and kindness have always remained above board, Jeff. Thanks for those nice words.
Felt not just weird ,Jeff rather abnormal at times to be a part here but it doesn’t now. I remember the words of a lady in one of the post here “bunch of crazy people” she said that on the lighter note and she included her to the bunch, also .But I guess it’s all past, now . Now it actually feels good to be a part of this whole.
December this it’s going to be third anniversary since my STEMI and I intend to write an analytical post like yours, Jeff but I guess only you can write with such an ease, articulation and style .But I’ll try anyway. Attached picture here contains my latest blood works.
Actually you are the hero here,Jeff, a true mentor. I’m just an extra on this stage😊.
I think it’s time now Jeff to respond to such a warm response to your post. Every one loves you, Jeff. Such a big inspiration you are Jeff. Your words have always not just touched rather gripped the hearts ♥️ of many especially mine. Thanks buddy, thanks, indeed.
Wishes for all.
JeffB, September 5, 2019 7:09am EST
Raizali, thanks for the comment and for catching my typo. You are totally right, I should have said LDL not HDL. The Dr told me that the LDL should be under 80 to 70 mg (can't remember specifically now). Also, kudos to your own report and weight goals. I’m only trying to drop around 10 lbs now but mainly for hiking goals to make it easier to climb up mountains. Still, I’ve heard this, that and the other about how a little weight loss can help with overall health.
I remember the month you showed up on the AHA SN. You, like so many other people here, are truly amazing. I think it's the individual journies we all are taking, and our courage to fight to take our lives back from heart disease, that makes this virtual place special. There were times when I was just beaten down, hopeless and picking out coffins. I was that depressed. It was, however, the folks here who got me through the weeks, months and now years of living with the possibility that my arteries are going to blow and leave me either dead or in a whole new set of shoes again. This place, time, and personal work gave me the chance to heal and to accept my situation. That’s why I call everyone here my hero. You guys are probably the only ones that know me who understand just how thoroughly a heart attack can burn a massive swath of a person down until all that is left are dead tree stumps, ash, and grayness.
When I post here, I’m not trying to be “inspirational.” I just live the life I live, make a ton of mistakes, wrestle with demons occasionally but just try and do the best I can. I simply want to share and, in some small way, if lucky, help another person out who is in the same boat I was as it’s sinking all too quickly.
On that note, thanks to everyone who commented on this post. I read every single one and am really touched that there are folks out there who understand and can relate. I chose not to respond as I didn’t want to create a noise box kind of post. You all know me well enough that you should know that I listen to and am grateful for everyone here who chooses to both share of themselves and support one another in the process.
That’s what I hope we all continue to do for one another. Even though we are located all over the world and none of us will probably have the chance to meet face to face. I hope we continue to share when we need help, reach out to folks to provide support, rebuild individually and become stronger together. We may have become statistics, but we have the power to architect lives that are full, fun and full of love.
nghafner, September 9, 2019 1:45pm EST
Congratulations on all your accomplishments Jeff. You just keep inspiring us all with your insight and hard work!!
Cameron42, September 20, 2019 12:37am EST
Nice job and great follow up. I enjoy hearing you’re doing well and picking up tips what I could do better. This is a great forum and a great group