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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Finally, I Go All In!

Saw Dr. Posten today, the robotic heart surgeon. Mitral Valve is bad, but looks repairable. Repair is much better than replace, but if he had to replace, I asked for pig valve. They last 12-15 years, and I would be dead from something else in the mean time. With a mechanical valve, you have to stay on anticoagulants for the rest of your days. Besides the mitral valve repair, he will do two other off the atrial appendage which is a pocket on the outside of your heart where 98% of strokes originate. He will also do a short maze procedure on his way out in the hopes that the Afib can be stopped. If I still have afib after all this, there is a good chance that I have sick sinus syndrome, and a pacemaker will appear in my future. The procedure is done thru three incision between and below the ribs on my right side. The way your heart sits makes this valve most accessible from that side. I will be put on a heart and lung bypass machine for the two hours or so that the entire three procedures should take. Although the pain is shorter than when they break open your sternum, there is a good deal of chest pain from your muscles spasming for the first forty eight hours, and then it resolves generally after that. I will be in the ICU for two days, and stay in the hospital for 3-5, I will have to take it easy for three weeks after the procedure, then I can exercise carefully and progressively from there. I go in tomorrow for a variety of non invasive tests. On monday they will do a cardiac catherization to insure my vessels are clear and no stents would have to be done first. I will stay overnight, and on tuesday, they will do the three procedures. The only fear I have is stroke, and he says the echo shows my heart and valves are virtually plaque free like a teenagers, and that is generally where the stroke risk resides. So, there is suffering in my future, but the hope that I will be able to run again and 2018  will be the year of the Tom.....

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Plan B!

Well, the shit has hit the proverbial fan. After working for three months to try and jog, two problems surfaced in alternating fashion. Either the Afib would not reset, and the jogs were all with a heart rate of 160-180, or the heart rate would reset in 5 or 10 minutes, but for a couple hours after the jog, I would go bradycardic with a heart rate dropping to 32 or 33.....heart failure territory. So, I have scheduled an appointment on Sept. 5th with the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale with the cardiology department in the hopes that they can run tests and determine the best path forward. I don't have any problems on gym days with weights or the recumbent bike, but any attempts at jogging seem dangerous....So, will just go back to walking on the days I am not at the gym. I expect that, from my last echo, I need some combination of a mitral valve repair/replacement,  a maze procedure for the Afib, and or a pacemaker.  Whatever I have to do to try and get my life back and try to hang around for my bride, my brothers, and my boy, I will do. I won't blog any further until I know what the path forward is.....

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Afib Bear Is Winning....

A rough week for the old heart. I managed two forty minute jogs, one thirty, and one fifty , but in all instances, my heart rate ranged from 150-180. Unlike the weeks before, my heart rate no longer seems to want to reset after the first five or ten minutes. So either my Afib is worsening, or my cardio myopathy is worsening, or both. Can't tell you how frustrating it is to work three months to get to a place where you think you have reasonably resolved this and you are at least jogging again, to have it all fall apart.
So, tomorrow I will call the EP in El Paso for an appointment, and see where I stand. If he does not have any reasonable answers, then I will try and get an appointment for a cardiac workup in Phoenix at the Mayo Clinic Cardiac Institute.  Just not ready to throw in the towel yet.....

Sunday, July 16, 2017

12 Week/3 Months.....From Nibbles To Bites!

So week twelve turned my nibbles into bigger bites, and those bigger bites felt much more comfortable and less taxing than their smaller brethren. On my four run days, I got my first interval up to 32, 40, 43, and in tonight's cool evening air, 48 minutes. The pace is spectacularly slow, as I am trying to keep close to the mafetone method of base building, and keeping my HR at all times below 123-125. So now we will see how long it takes to get to a full hour keeping my pace this slow. I am operating at a pace about fifteen seconds a kilometer slower than when all this Afib misery began. Once I hit that hour, the pace of these runs should improve while still staying in this heart range. Once no improvement occurs or regression happens to the pace in this heart range, then you can add some shorter cruise intervals. But that is probably many months off yet.....
I love to go on those people of walmart sites, and the best and oddest ones always seem to come from florida. There has to be some absolute shallow end of the gene pool folks living there, but this picture surely takes the cake. Now I tried to think of a witty caption for this, but is just so freakin odd, that it is hard. How about "hey buddy you eyeing my gal?"....."she promised she'd never leave me!"...."she is an absolute firm body"!  I give, you try!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Week 11: Nibbling Away!

Made a bit more progress this week, especially on Saturday and Sunday. Getting that first interval closer to thirty minutes, and the second one closer to ten. After that, it is just a struggle of short intervals and short walks. Gotten fractionally close to covering my goal of 8K in an hour as the first goal, and then getting it in one non stop run around 55 minutes at a HR under 125. No goals in mind after that, as I still struggle with that damn Afib for the first five or ten minutes of every run.
Weather is still not cooperating. Monsoon season is overdue, and the ten day forecast does not reflect any cooler days or days of rain. Just have to keep shuffling along......

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Week 10: The Three For One Rule!

From my 41 years of running, I have always prescribed to the three for one rule....for every week you miss, it takes three weeks to get back into the shape you were in before you missed. So, after missing five months, it certainly feels like it is gonna take fifteen months to get it all back. Not sure that's true, but it feels that way! Getting in a bit longer intervals on the early part of my workouts, but in the end, coming up to about the same overall distance covered in the hour of activity. The fact that the heat remains boundless, struggles continue.  Certainly doesn't feel like a big breakthru is coming, more just a damn difficult grind. But, still not a lot of quit in me, so I will keep slogging on.
This fourth of July seems really sad to me.....we are in the midst of real damage to our democracy.....We have a childish narcissistic sociopath for president, a congress focused only on corporations and the rich, cyber attacks by russia that go unpunished, and an all out assault on the media, who has protected us from tyranny for two hundred years. Democracy is fragile and it would not shock me if we take it for granted and give it away in the next twenty years.....

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Week 9.....A Semblance Of Progress....

Well, Deb and I spent the week in Laughlin enjoying the breezy 118-124 temps. Did all my exercising across the river in Bullhead City at an anytime fitness franchise. $25 bucks for the week. I went there every day from monday thru friday.
On monday, I lifted weights for a half hour, and then jumped on the treadmill. The usual first five minutes involved some Afib, and then my HR settled in from there. I was comfortable keeping my HR below 120 for ten minutes or so, expecting I would need to take a walk break at some point after that. It was odd, because I kept expecting to hit 125 but I never did. I was able to run a full forty minutes without needing a walk break. And for the next four days thereafter, I was able to repeat that exact same workout. Today, back in the heat and back at 4400 feet of altitude, I was curious if I would be able to repeat that. Nope. I did cover two fifteen minute intervals, and then about five shorter intervals to complete my hour, but the heat and altitude made it tougher. But all in all, some progress occurred.
My ultimate goal remains covering 8K/5 Miles on four runs a week with a HR not exceeding 125 and a pace that allows the runs to be completed in 55 or 56 minutes. From charts, tests, and experience, 125 is where my heart rate starts to go from an aerobic run into an anaerobic zone. Now, since I don't have race plans, only want to run for joy and health, no need to think about doing any faster running until I can accomplish my initial goal. So that is why my exercising is a process of running until I get to a 125 HR, and then walk a bit to get it back to below 110, and then go back at it until the day hopefully comes when I can complete the entire hour or less and cover that 8K. I will see my heart doc on july 6th to make sure this is a safe process, and that it remains ok to keep running when I have Afib occurring. Anyway, I do believe it will cool in a few months, I will get slowly fitter, and my goal will at some point happen.....Faith Baby!