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Posts tagged ‘heart disease’


Knight Owl and heart strings

I am very late getting to my daily post tonight.   I don’t know where the time went tonight!   Well…, I did relax on the couch for a while… And, I stopped to have dinner, clean up, walk the dog, talk on the phone, read a few chapters of The Book Thief (currently reading), and I took some time to read the blog and comment….   that’s where the time went!

This is a quick but very important lesson, from Knight Owl and her Niece,  about taking care of our hearts.

Those of you familiar with this blog, and so many others like the wonderful Humble Opinion, Niecy456, Kim’s Blog, Marinade Dave’s, Mainstream Fair, and others (they’re all on my Blogroll below), know that Knight Owl, one of the dearest persons who visited and posted here, and elsewhere, passed away in August from, as we know now, a massive heart attack.

A terrible loss of one so young (she was 61), and vibrant, and dear.  Her passing has saddened so many of us.

Tonight, Knight Owl’s lovely niece visited and explained what happened.

Knight Owl died on August 14th.  On the day of her heart attack, she had done what we all hate to do, clean the bathrooms.  Afterwards, she felt sick – nauseated, and complained that her arm was sore.   Thinking it was the smell of the cleaning supplies making her feel sick, and because she’d been scrubbing with that hand and arm, she thought, not a big deal, she’d been using that arm to scrub.  Perhaps she wondered if she was coming down with a bug, or the flu?  It’s easy to ignore these warning signs – we tell ourselves stories about what it could be, as if we’re M.D.’s!  Right?

Knight Owl’s husband walked her upstairs to lay down and lovingly gave her a wet hand towel to cool her forehead.

She was resting, and all was well.  Only it wasn’t.

Knight Owl missed the warning signs of an impending heart attack.  There are usually some warning signs that tell us things are really not right with our bodies.

I imagine you and I may have done EXACTLY what Knight Owl did after spending time doing such vigorous, smelly, and laborious work.   But, let’s let this be a wake up call – let this be a wake up call for all of us.

Learn the warning signs of trouble; listen to your heart and your inner guide when it says, “Something’s sure not right about how I feel.”

There are resources that we can use to educate ourselves about heart disease.  There is one in particular that I like.  It’s called Heart Sisters and the website is:

The articles are wonderful, the tips will be helpful, too.    The author and owner of the site is Carolyn Thomas, who is a survivor and a lovely person.

I know that Knight Owl will be so pleased if her story educated us about heart disease, and the warning signs of a heart attack.

Sweet dreams, sweet Knight Owl.



american heartYou must forgive my absence here.  I seem to be chasing time constantly.  Do you do the same?

Who ever said “time lingers” was surely not of this century, or of this world.  Time is a torpedo! 

Moments don’t pile up, they ricochet, they are like whirly-gigs on caffeine!   The art of harnessing time, stopping it and lessening the impacts of it is what the 21st century is about, don’t you think? 

Do you know how fast a moment is?  Here’s a moment for you:  Here’s a single, quiet moment.  Are you ready?  Okay… here it is!   Did you catch it?  You got it??  Here!  It’s right here!  It’s right now!   It’s…just as soon as you read this sentence….. whoosh!  it’s gone!  

Did you even see it?   

How fast a moment flies!  And yet, so much can occur in a single moment…. magic even.  I had two conversations with two different friends today; both told me how the greatest challenge of their lives so far was to learn how to live in the moment – in the here, in the now. 

I can relate.

So…..well, in the here and now – I am doing very well.  I am feeling happy, getting healthly, feeling optimistic, too. 

My recent hospital visit for the  electrophysiology study was negative, meaning the doctor was not able to recreate the arrhythmia, hence there was no need to perform an ablation or to consider a pacemaker with my name on it!  (See?  I knew that pacemaker did NOT have my name on it!)

And what’s even better news, just last week my cardiologist told me he is no longer concerned – no immediate danger for me, no worries in the here and the now.  When he said my next appointment with him won’t be for six months,  I cheered: Whoop, there it is!  

Although I am still under the care of the electrophysiologist, I have good feelings about everything.  I have been wearing a 30-day 24/7 heart monitor (only one  more week to go).  The heart monitor is listening to my heartbeats constantly.  It is an amazing thing, though cumbersome.   Two electrodes glued to my heart area are wired into a black receiver that’s a bit bigger than a large cell phone. I wear it strapped to my belt, or sometimes it fits in my coat or pants pocket. 

The receiver has a “push” button to record what I was doing when symptoms occur and what the symptoms were.  After I have pushed the button, only moments later, an eCardio representative calls to ask what I was doing at the time the symptoms occurred, and what the symptoms were.  I have had to press the button a dozen or so times so far to report symptoms, and many times the receiver will register an event on its own, which is a bit unnerving. 

The eCardio heart monitor will shed insight into what is truly troubling this ticker of mine!   However… no worries! 

You see, I know this much is true:   “I got rhythm… dad dum dum…. I got music… dad dum dum….  I got no worries ….. who could ask for anything more… Who. Could. Ask. For. Any. Thing. MoreDaaaaa dum dummmmm!

Whoop, there it is!


an empty space

Lilly at age 15 or 16
Lilly at age 15 or 16

It’s been a very long week. 

Lilly, my 19-year-old cat, is out of pain now. 
I couldn’t do it.  My heart was already too pained; I couldn’t manage it.  My kind-hearted step-father, Bill, did it for me – took Lilly to be euthanized at the vet this past Thursday morning. 10:30 a.m was the appointment.  
I wanted to be the one to take her but knew I couldn’t. Even though I know the decision to put her to sleep was the most loving thing for her (her quality of life was negligent at this point), I was not, am not, strong enough to see it through.     
Bill said he cried during and after.  He knew Lilly for 19 years, too.  He loved her as I did. 
At 19 she was growing feeble; cried constantly from pain and yet, when I so much as looked at her – even for a moment – she purred her vigorous purr.  I’ve never known a cat with such a loud purr.  
That purr often was my alarm clock in the morning.  Even though her coarse and wet tongue licked my closed eyelids, it was the purr that would wake me.  She even purred in her sleep, and would wake her self up, too.  It was funny to see that.   Kind of like how some of us wake ourselves up snoring; well, she’d wake up with a start, dazed.  Then, she’d curl back up into a tighter ball and drift off quickly again right after. 
She looked equal parts salt and pepper with that gorgeous long coat that was so much work.  Her personality was equal parts sugar and spice.  Old age didn’t damper her sweetness, though at age 19, she grew more shrill.
It’s the empty space she left that is difficult to deal with.  I remind myself that she is happier, and at rest.  It’s just the empty space that breaks my broken heart now.

just my stupid heart

american heartThis is a follow up to my “Corporate American Heart” post.

This post will not be as much about insurance as it will be about the uncertainty of facing heart disease; and the repercussions of not paying attention to your health.

This is a very personal topic and story, but I want to tell it just the same.  Maybe reading about my stupidity will help someone else wake up, too.

I have been an ostrich when it comes to my health.  Well, maybe not an ostrich, more like Scarlett O’Hara: “I’ll think about it tomorrow.”  That type of attitude. 

Tomorrow is here.  

I had been nervous about my health for a few months, but I’d lulled myself into an invincible la-la land sort of self-apathy, I guess you could say.  I was too busy to stop and think.

Work, school, more work, blogging and burning the candle at both ends, literally.  I was so busy re-lighting the candle that the flame blinded me.  Then, as life is wont to do, it hit me head-long!  Flew in – whooosh!  and the little flames became a fire. 

So, yes.  This is a story about my stupidity.

A few months ago I got sick with a bad flu and went to the doctor with my hand out for antibiotics.  Doc said, “Not so fast, Andrea, your blood pressure is through the roof.”  I responded, “Is that so?”  “Correct,” says he. 

Well, I thought, it’s surely because I hate being in the doctor’s office.  So, I said,  “Well, it’s because I’m here, in your office, and you’re a doctor so I’m nervous.”  “Well, too bad Andrea”, says he, “here’s your antibiotics, and here’s a prescription to control the blood pressure.  I want to see you in a week.”  “Okay doc, thanks. Bye now” I said.  He says, “Nope, not so fast there, Andrea, because there’s something else that I don’t like, kiddo.  There’s a none too pretty growth there in your mouth.”  

Turns out, I have a huge cyst-like thing growing.  He says, “I don’t like the looks of it.”  He says, “You will see an ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat) and have it checked out?”  “Yes”, I promise him.

I got the antibiotic medication filled, went back to work, ignored the thing in my mouth, never filled the blood pressure prescription, and stuck my head back in the sand.  I never kept the follow up appointment with him either. 

I know, I know….I warned you about my stupidity. 

But the “thing” in my mouth was a concern.  So, I did see an ENT, though weeks later.

 The ENT said, “very common thing.”  It’s a result of years ago biting the back of my cheek.  And it all of a sudden, it started to grow into a huge ugly ulcer.  The ENT tells me that it’s nothing to worry about, but it’s very big and has to come out.   It protrudes out half an inch, and… well, let me spare you the details.  We need to surgically remove the damn thing.  So I say to the ENT, “Can we let it go, doc, for a little while?  I am too busy for this, okay?”   “Okay” he says, “for a little while.”

So a few weeks later, I got really sick with strep throat, and had to go back to see the doctor.  So, I say, “Can I just have a couple of antibiotics and call it a day, doc?”  He says, “We have a bigger problem – your blood pressure. Last time it was like 190 over 95,  now it’s 195 over 85.”  “Have you been taking your blood pressure medication”, he asks?   “No”, I admitted. 

Then he takes an EKG and insists I see a cardiologist.  Then, later I did keep my promise and I went back for another EKG.  Better results this time, but still concerns.    

Today my blood pressure is back to normal.  But, then I put my head back in the sand and kept putting off and putting off the visit to the cardiologist.  But, to their credit the cardiologist’s office called me every week to remind me to schedule my appointment.  So finally, I took time off of work, and got the Echocariogram, a stress test, and was given a 24 hour heart monitor to wear.  

I got the results last week.

The cardiologist tells me that echocariogram did not look bad, though I have a leaky valve. But, many people have this, he assures me, it is not cause for alarm. 

Okay, good. 

As for the stress test, it was okay as far as blood flow.  But, then, the cariologist, he gets up from his chair, puts his nose close to mine and says: “I don’t like this, Andrea.” He tells me, “Your stamina on the stress test is that of someone fifteen years older than you.”  He adds, “Do you have a death wish?” 

Snit.  I have not been exercising for the past year, it is true.  I spend my days and evenings in front of a computer.  He ordered me to excercise, or else.

Then he moves on to discuss the heart monitor results.  (I wore this heart monitor, called a “Holter” for 24 hours.) 

He says, in short, my heart rhythms are out of sync, are somewhat suspect, some abnormality.  But, not cause for immediate alarm, he says.  However, he insists that I see a “electrophysiologist” (this is a cardiologist with specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders).

His concern is to rule out what is called “Ventricular Tachycardia.”

My cardiologist believes I am not in immediate danger, and that I have the treatable version of Tachycardia called PAT, short for Paroxysmal Atrial Tachycardia.   The electrophyiologist, I am told, will want to hook me up to another heart monitor – for a longer period of time and see what’s really going on. 

This phase all starts next week. 

I’ll keep you posted. 

I have recovered from stupidity, by the way. (A recovering Stupido.)


a corporate American heart?

american heartTomorrow I will be wired with a heart monitor and will have an echocardiogram, too.  Then, on Friday, a stress test.  The problem is I am so stressed about this whole thing – surely it’ll say BINGO: Stressed you are!

Seriously, I am not too worried, though it is nerve wracking nonetheless.  Millions of people lucky enough to have health insurance will have their hearts monitored and poked and prodded and peeked at on any given day of the week in this country.  So, it’s nothing to worry about, right?  Yeah. Right.  

My friend’s 17 year old son, who is a big strapping football player, 6’5” (perhaps taller), is coincidentally having the same testing on the same day (he in Ohio; I in Florida).   His testing is a result of a pulled muscle near his dear young heart; my testing is a result of my old heart that I have carried too long on my sleeve.   

He and I have insurance.  How lucky we are.

My heart is grateful for the insurance that I carry, but hurts to think that not all Americans have the same good fortune as I and could die sooner than I from heart disease that goes undetected. 

I remain hopeful that soon our country will wake up and know an equitable answer to this insurance crisis.  We are Americans; that means we have a responsibility to care for each other and remember that we are all equal – truly we are. 

Americans can solve the health care crisis, corporations cannot.  Corporations are bound by law to ensure their shareholders benefit monetarily – every breath they take, every move a corporation makes is to ensure profit for its shareholders, and therefore corporations are not bound to serve the good health or the goodwill of those living in America.

As wonderful as many corporations are, they are in business only to serve their bottom line.  I am not trying to be critical – I am stating a fact. Insurance companies, drug companies, or any other ancillary corporate entity will not solve this for us.  We must let our government try.  Unlike big corporate business, the government has the American people to please, not shareholders whose pockets need to be lined by law.  Shareholder profits will be made before care is given to our poor hearts.

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