So, I have had a crazy past two weeks, which has led to me not writing any original content. Long story short, I went to the emergency room with an irregular heartbeat. They ultimately couldn’t do anything for me. They recommended “shocking” my heart back into rhythm with a defibrillator, you know, the electric shockers they use on people that have just died. I’ll try my best to tell the story.
I know this is long, but please stay with me. I want you all to know where I’ve been and where I am today…
A couple weeks ago, I was away from home working at a remote location. As I often travel, I take sleepless nights in hotels as a normal occurrence, not recognizing the stress they induce on my body. (We’ll come back to my sleep patterns later)
Upon my return home, I had a prescheduled Dr’s appointment scheduled for my knee. It had been aggravating me since my daughter started softball and I decided to be a catcher for her pitching practice. I am 41, so my knees don’t react like they used to when crouching all the way down and getting up. In short, I think I had a small tear in my meniscus. I set up an appointment to see the Dr.
As luck would have it, my sore knee started to heal the closer I got to my Dr’s appointment. I told my primary Dr. this and he says, “do whatever made your knee hurt in the first place.” So I started running a lot. At a fast pace. Much faster than normal. My knee however, wasn’t cooperating and began to get stronger and stronger.
Finally, the day of my appointment came and I contemplated cancelling, but decided against it. I figured I better get the MRI anyway (X-Rays showed nothing). I decided to go hard on the treadmill again that morning, then shower and go to the Dr. As I was preparing to get in the shower, I felt my heart skip a beat and then begin to beat erratically. I knew immediately that I was in A-fib. It wasn’t my first time.
Two prior times in my life this has happened. When I was 27, I was lifting very hard and was taking ginseng extract and yohimbe root as supplements, with creatine. I was very strong at the time, but eventually this combo, I was told, threw my heart into an irregular heartbeat. My wife made me stop the supplements. No more issues.
The other time was when we brought our third daughter home from the hospital. If you’ve ever had a-fib, it’s an unmistakable feeling. As I sat on the couch watching my wife feed my third child, it must have been the stress, because my heart went crazy again. At least that’s what the ER doctor said. He told me to chill out and sent me home.
So back to two weeks ago. My heart was in a-fib and I was going to see the knee Dr. I figured it would go away, but it didn’t. By the time I got to the intake nurse, I was so short of breath, she was asking me if I was alright. I reluctantly told her the story because I knew what was going to happen. After a discussion with the orthopedist he listened to my heart and said “I’m no heart Dr., but something funky is going on in there. You better go to the ER.” Here we go again…
Long story short, two days later (without electric shockers) my heart corrected itself back into rhythm. However, this was only the beginning. I had to undergo an echocardiogram, to which the person doing the test remarked that I wasn’t frail like her normal patients. I didn’t think that was a complement. The results came back all within normal parameters and the cardiologist was saying that we had one more test to do. A sleep study, that I figured, would rule out sleep apnea and allow the Dr. to tell me that I was stressed out and I needed to de-stress. Piece of cake. He asked me if I snored and I said, “I don’t know, I’m sleep. My wife says I do, but I don’t believe her. I wake up very refreshed.” He said, “let’s do it anyway.”
As you may have guessed by now, I tested positive for moderate sleep apnea. I had no clue. The doctor says that 40% of patients with a-fib can be cured buy treating the sleep apnea. No more a-fib episodes! Due to my breathing being obstructed, I toss and turn a lot. My body doesn’t get a chance to really fall into a deep, restorative sleep, which causes stress on my heart. Not to mention the everyday management of life on life’s terms. A full time career, wife and 4 children under 10, will put a stress load on anyone. Especially an anal, OCD, Type-A personality, such as myself.
I am actually relieved that they found something. I pick up the C-pap machine tomorrow.
This experience has led to some revelations for myself;
1. I need to take better care of myself. – Irregular heartbeat aside, I am overweight and don’t eat and exercise like I should. I am 5’11” and weigh close to 240. I am muscular, but I shouldn’t be 240. Maybe 200 or 195 would be ideal for me. It’s simple. Eat right and exercise. Not a diet, but a lifestyle change.
2. Losing weight may help to resolve the sleep apnea. 86% of people with sleep apnea are obese. By losing weight, a lot of people can reverse or mitigate the risks associated with sleep apnea.
3. I need an accountability medium. – That’s where my blog comes in. I figure I can begin writing more articles on my health journey. I think you can help too by commenting to these articles and maybe sharing your story.
4. It’s really not about me. – I am secure in my salvation and could die fat and happy, but then I think about my family. I don’t want to leave them hanging. I feel like there are many lessons I want to teach them, especially my son. He’s only 3. If it’s God’s will, I’d love to help mold him as he grows into a man. I also want my daughters to know what a real man is when they see one.
5. A true leader recognizes their own weaknesses. – For me it’s food. I need to eat better. It’s also procrastination. Let’s keep it real, I didn’t become 240 overnight and this isn’t the first warning I’ve had about getting my health in order. Last year, I got down to 218 because I was told I was borderline diabetic. I reversed that after the weight loss, so I wasn’t concerned about sticking with the program. Plus, I got plantar fasciitis in my right foot, so I had a convenient excuse to stop running.
Where am I today?
The cardiologist cleared me to exercise again adn took me off blood thinners and something else to regulate my heart beat. I am back running (with a stretching/treatment plan for the plantar fasciitis), eating right and drinking tons of water. I’m also trying not to stress, by talking to God, and praying everyday. I need to get back in the Word. I am also planning on utilizing this machine to help me get more restful sleep. I will keep everyone posted on the developments as I go on this journey.
Starting weight – 240
Today’s weight – 236