Friday, January 18, 2013


Today I introduce you to a soul set free of mental fear and torment by a persistent heart condition, MYSELF!

For 4+ years many of you have followed and sympathized with my battle with a common heart condition, A-Fib, short hand for atrial fibrillation, a condition 1 in 4 persons may have at some point in their lives. By the way you don't have to be a senior citizen, either. A church friend in his 40s had it, too.

Without revisiting my daily struggle and frustration of trying to live a nearly normal life at my advanced age with a chronic condition, and the very dangerous drug with narrow boundaries of safety, I am happy to report I am now nearly, if not entirely free, of the condition.

September 27 you may remember I had a heart procedure in Little Rock, called pulmonary vein ablation. In brief the 4 pulmonary veins which enter the heart in the left atrium were ablated (scarred or cauterized), even though only one was causing A-Fib. The reason is if one vein does, the other three veins eventually will develop the same symptom.

After three months of healing and NO recurrence of A-Fib, my electrophysiology cardiologist removed the drug, Tikosyn, from my regimen. After one week I have had no A-Fib attacks.

If still symptom-free in 3 more months I will be able to discontinue Pradaxa, a blood thinner with dangerous side effects.

I am under no delusion. This condition can return. Drugs and ablations may, and do fade in 30% of users. I hope I am in the 70%, but, if not, I still have the same options, unless ObamaCare denies payment because of age. The procedure is costly.

But today and all the days I remain A-Fib free, I shall be thankful and enjoy freedom from drugs, fear, short a life set free from fear. I still have work to do, but I will endeavor to step into it with joy, not cardiac rehab [translate exercise] and lose more weight -- oh how I need support in this!

Thank you, blogging buddies for listening and I know some of you, or your dear ones have the same malady.

Thanks to my dear husband for being there for me every step of the way, as he has his own health problems too!

Yes! Luckie, too, who often lay by my chair in sympathy as I struggled through A-Fib  attacks which were more frequent in late evenings and night.

I am commenting on FACEBOOK more and more, using it much like blogging but nearly requiring the intensity. Many of you have a FACEBOOK account. I will 'friend' you, if you request.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Today I feel compelled to write an addendum to my previous post, RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS. Sometimes the words I choose convey an attitude or feeling which I did not intend.

Briefly I had helped a gentleman, with more extreme shortenss of breath than I, access our hospital when the parking lot shuttle was not available. I carried him in my car to the entrance and then I had to walk from a remote parking area with uphill grade, which caused extreme shortness of breath myself. This scenario was complicated by bitterly cold wind, a nemesis to persons with lung/breathing deficiencies.

Two days later my deteriorating breathing had become more severe, so I made the decision I needed emergency help and went to the area emergency facility at 10 p.m. that evening..

My post upon reflection sounded a tad whiney that the result of my helping another soul perhaps caused me to incur the E.R. trip even though I would certainly do it again in a minute.

The E.R. trip was a blessing as I learned I needed to have my COPD/chronic bronchitis/asthma conditions re-evaluated, and that the source of my continued shortness of breath after a heart procedure, is my lungs, not my heart.

A few phone calls, and I am being setup for a better treatment regimen involving nebulization which reaches deeper into the lungs, which I discovered while in E.R.

Then, when my dearest friend finishes her breast cancer radiation treatments and makes an appointment with our asthma/allergy physician around March, I will also will set up an appointment for re-evaluation and assessment. It has been quite awhile since my condition has be more closely assessed.

Changing medications or changing the mode of delivery into the body often is a simple solution. Also, after a long period of time, the body may ignore a routine medicine, the intended effect fades, and a sugar pill is just as effective. I've been on 5 different hypertensive drugs since 1991 when I was first diagnosed with hypertension.

Therefore I view my emergency room visit a definite plus, a blessing in disguise. Even though I travel to specialists in Arkansas and Missouri, I am thankful that we have a regional hospital in our somewhat remote rural Ozarks, which offers services not often available in similar settings. We also subscribe to an Emergency Heliocopter service which can airlift us to various metroplexes with specialized facilities -- a PLUS in our area, too!

Tuesday, January 08, 2013


As those who follow me know, I have spent about 2 years battling common, but serious deteriorating conditions of elderly persons: lung and heart disease. Having them both, is doubly difficult for medical management, as the two systems are dependent and interdependent on each other to function  perfectly synched with each other.

Although I worked in pharmacy, a profession dedicated to service to others, in retirement I have spent much time in various volunteer, charitable works, and church related welfare centered activities. I have found these activities take my mind off my own personal struggles, which staves off depression.

However, the last two years have reduced my physical abilities in some of these activities to often spending money supporting the same services, but not nearly as gratifying.

However, one kind of activity often pops up which I simply react; I call them 'random acts of kindness.'  These pop up spontaneously and you simply do whatever is needed. Rarely you suffer from the consequences of your good intentions, but recently such a case arose.

I am in cardiac and respiratory rehab at an area hospital 16 miles from my home. Over the years this hospital has become a regional hospital with many services offered, not ordinarily seen in a somewhat rural remote region. Although I still have to travel to larger cities for specialized care, I am most grateful we have this highly rated facility this near to me.

Like many larger facilities the parking lots are very large; handicap marked parking at a premium, and the lots involve uphill grades-- very difficult for heart and lung patients, as well as persons with physically limited mobility.

To alleviate the torture of just getting to the front door, the hugely efficient hospital volunteer auxiliary provides small enclosed golf carts, like shuttles, run by their volunteers.

Usually there are two shuttles running, but, of course, there are the unforeseen events, such as flat tires, blown engines, volunteers not showing up, etc. Last week on Monday was one of those days; I have rehab M-W-F.

That day was also a day there was extremely strong, bitterly sub-freezing temperature wind--not a recipe to which heart and respiratory patients should be exposed.  I was dressed for the weather but not long exposure.

When I arrived a man in my session was standing outside his vehicle waiting for the shuttle. He appears to be in more serious condition than myself -- my observation only because he was 24 hour oxygen and I'm only during night.

He said he had been waiting several minutes without seeing either shuttle.  After a few more minutes, he said, 'I guess we will have to walk and stop often to get our breath.' It was an uphill grade. I lost track how many times we stopped--about 6. We both became seriously short of breath.

At last inside the lobby, he tossed his oxygen unit on the nearest chair and sank into an adjacent chair, breathing so heavily, I forgot about my own, and hurried inside the rehab unit to get the nurses to check on him.

We both recovered enough to do our rehab.  The shuttle magically appeared when we went by the volunteer desk. Seems the little carts are not well heated and the volunteers find a sunny spot to sit when not busy.

But the crux of the story was the same thing happened on Wednesday. This time I put him in my car and took him to the front door, but, of course, I had to repark, and walk up the hill a second time that week. My SOB had worsened from Monday and Wednesday added to the problem. By my Friday session I really should not have exercised, but I did. (The shuttle ran that day.)

By the time I got home I knew I was in deep trouble breathing and could feel my heart struggling to function, even though it was in rhythm. I kept believing some rest would improve with oxygen. But NO, at 10 p.m. I was nearly shut down with very shallow breathing. I told Husband we needed to go to ER, but no ambulance.

Fortunately, we did not have a long wait: one breathing treatment, a loading dose of prednisone and antibiotics I was on my way home. And a stern warning not to expose myself to bitterly cold air. My ER visit was the consequences of ignoring, or not being prepared for the sub freezing temperatures, not the act of kindness.

It all started commiserating with a fellow sufferer and then helping him one day with a simple car ride, so he did not have to walk two days in a row. Would I do it again. You bet, but I will have something, even a Kleenex, to cover my nose from sub-freezing temperatures. Cool air is good. Extremely hot air or cold air is a shock to respiratory compromised individuals.

In the process I gained a gentle compatriot in our mutual aging diseases and the rehab program. I don't even know his name, except he lives in a rural community near me.

Having also been the recipient of a few 'random acts of kindness,' I think these deeds are remembered more dearly--not that should be the purpose. We are all in this world together, and unfortunely most, if not all of us, will get of this world alive, so we should be grateful, gentle and kind to each other, especially those weaker in any respect to ourselves.

No, I am not perfect; have more warts, defects, faults and failings than anybody, but as long as I breathe, I keep being a work in progress--a life long project.!

And I have small packages of Kleenex tucked in my outerwear pockets as well as both cars, purses, Kindle case, computer cases, etc.  This event also reminded me of my Mother who insisted I never leave the house without a handkerchief or Kleenex which came into use in my era. I thought it a nuisance--something else I would lose; but, as I grow older I have had several flashbacks--Mother was right after all.....

Girl Scout motto-Be Prepared