Monday, 5 March 2012

Three years after Heart Surgery

Well, I recently passed my three-year anniversary of heart surgery. My health is good and my doctor says all is well. The puppies are dogs now. I still eat well and although I am less consistent, I still do a lot of walking. That is the good news.

The bad news is that I've struggled the last few years with a series of disasters. My heart problem was just one of the calamities that avalanched upon my family and me. One of the nastier surprises was that my employer of 23 years made me redundant as soon as legally possible after my heart problem was diagnosed. That left me too far from retirement to just pack it in but in the horrible situation of trying to find a job, with a health plan, at my age and state of mind. It also took in one fell swoop, most of my social circle leaving me isolated and stupefied by yet another blow.

The latest challenge is getting our financial house back in order after three years of catastrophe. Right now I am trying to get insurance on a mortgage and line of credit. It is excruciating to be poked and prodded while giving up all privacy and dignity to insure a mortgage so that in the event of my death, more than grief will not burden my family. I am still not sure if anyone will underwrite policy or not. Either way it is going to be humiliating and grotesquely expensive. I mentioned my struggle to find an insurer to my doctor on my last visit and he was perplexed. "But I fixed your heart!" was his comment.

So as I sit writing this post, I am happy to say my health is great. I believe I'll tick along for quite some time yet. The repercussions of the heart surgery are still rippling around me and causing more problems in many ways than the pain or surgery did.

I wish there was somewhere to get good solid advice on this unexpected consequence of having the bypass operation.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Two Years after Heart Surgery

So we have come to the end of another year. It was two years ago at this time during the holidays that I had my heart surgery. I went into the hospital on December the 22nd and came out just before before New Years Day. That Christmas is a blur and  most of the following year as well.

I was so family centered and focused on becoming well that the rest of the world barely registered to me.

 It was a struggle, to be honest, just getting back on my feet. A lasting effect seems to be a change in my attitude. I am much more empathetic than I ever was to other people's feelings and struggles. My ambition has changed from struggling to excel in the business world to just trying to find serenity and peace in my daily life. This change brings with it its own problems and struggles but the rewards are much more fundamentally satisfying.

 All seems well with me health-wise. I had a fight getting my cholesterol under control.  But after my regular medical exam last month -for the first time since the coronary Artery Bypass operation- my medication levels were not increased. So the combination of activity, diet and meds seems to finally be doing the trick.

I feel physically fit and very able, just not quite as strong as I remember myself being. That could be because I was never as mighty as I thought or that I'm a little older or most likely, I simply have not been keeping fit for so many years while the disease crept up on me that it will take another few years to get back the muscle mass that slowly degenerated. Who knows? I'll just keep plugging away and expect to feel better each day until something makes me change my mind.

So my New Years' wish for all of you, whether just beginning the journey, enduring heart surgery or recovering, is that this year is better than the one before. Sometimes it doesn't take much to effect positive changes, sometimes it takes more than we think we can endure. In my experience more often than not, it just takes the positivism to make the effort and  the currents of life will start to take you in the direction you need to go.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Why are we so Fat?

"Supper at the camp"
Here is an article I wrote a while ago at my fishing blog. Not sure what got me to put it there other than the habit of writing down my thoughts. I think it is still valid, though a bit out of date. Let me know if you think it makes sense.

We apparently have an obesity crisis in North America.

The fear of lawsuits is forcing fast food restaurants to change their menus and include healthier alternatives to their burgers and fries.

What a burden that must be for them, after all if there were money to be made in fast, healthy alternatives wouldn't there be a McHealthy’s on every corner?

Why should there be a penalty for a merchant who sells a product that is legal, the risks are known and the public wants?

Here is the thing; it is not the fast food guys that are the problem.

We are demonizing the wrong people. Have you ever finished dinner and sat down to watch some television for the evening?

By bedtime you have been exposed to more food, snack and candy advertising than the average person can resist.

Just try not to have a snack during an evening of television. It is almost impossible.

I can go for hours without thinking of food in my daily life but a couple of hours in front of the tube can have me craving everything from chocolate to popcorn chicken, whatever the heck that is.

You want to cure the obesity crisis in North America? Get some control of the advertising agencies that are engaged in psychological warfare with consumers every day of their lives.

Think about it. If you advertise a product simply by telling people what it is, what it can do and where they can get it, people who want the product will buy it.

People who don't want the product won't buy it. Simple right?

Advertising in North America today though is not about offering a product for consideration. It is about convincing people that they want the product by manipulating psychological triggers from fear to hunger to sexual drives.

It would be interesting to know how many of our brightest and best thinkers make their livings developing the science and art of manipulating the rest of us into this consumer frenzy.

One has to wonder what the world would be like if they spent their time trying to solve real problems like feeding the hungry rather than tricking the already well fed into eating more.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

New Zipper Club T Shirts at Zazzle

I have a few new tee shirts up at the Zazzle web site. Folks seem to enjoy these and it sure is a conversation starter when you are first getting out and about after your surgery.

create & buy custom products at Zazzle

Friday, 18 June 2010

The Picture of Health

I ran into a couple of friends the other day while standing in line at Tim Horton's buying a green tea and a chicken salad sandwich on whole wheat.

Hector and I chat every month or so but Dave I had not seen in about six months. The inevitable question of "So, how are you doing?" went around the table as we settled down for lunch.

I never know anymore if it is a real question because of my heart surgery or merely a polite question as a precursor to conversation. In this case I couldn't get away with a mumbled, "Not so bad. You?". They really wanted a report.

The truth is- not so bad. I've been fishing most evenings when the weather is fit, maintaining my fitness regimen and starting to feel more optimistic about the future.

When Dave said I was the picture of health it caught me totally by surprise. The picture of health?

There is a funny psychological effect when one has been so sick for so long, it shapes one's self-image. My self-image was frozen somewhere around the week or two following my heart surgery. Who I am today is a long way down the road from who I was then. It just hadn't really sunken in.

The picture of health? I'll take it.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

High Cholesterol Blues

Wow, time flies. It has been a while since I updated this blog.

My last ramblings were about my upcoming doctor's visit. That went well. I seem to be healing properly. Still pumping out bad cholesterol like that well in the gulf is pumping out oil though. My dosage of statins was upped by another 10 milligrams. But the truth be told, we spent most of the time chatting about new technology and the impact on the social fabric as luxuries become necessities.

It is strangely comforting to visit your heart specialist and have it be more of a "just touching base" than a "here are the things I'm concerned about" if you know what I mean.

So a year and a half out from my bypass surgery I guess I am repaired. The rest is up to me. Diet, exercise and minimizing stress are the things to focus on going forward, And you know what? Those are all things that make us feel better anyway.

It is easy to slide into a couch potato mentality but being lazy and gobbling snacks only feels good for a little while. Eating well and being active feels good constantly.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Doctor Visit One and a Half Year After Open Heart Surgery

Well, I have not had much to write about recently. Things are going pretty well for me.  As long as I pay attention to my work-out schedule, keep eating well and rest when I need to, I'm feeling pretty good.

The big medical check up is coming on May 10th. That will be just about a year and a half since my bypass surgery.

If I do an inventory of pluses and minuses I think there are lots more positives than negatives.

I've started to feel some renewed enthusiasm for hobbies I'd drifted away from. For example I've gone fishing almost every day after work these last couple weeks. The weather has been grand and I've enjoyed every minute of it. I built a fly rod and tied a dozen flies last month too.

On that front, things are rapidly returning to normal. Sure, I still have trouble sleeping and a bit of pain but that is manageable if slightly unpleasant.

On balance things are going pretty good one and a half years out from the heart surgery. Still I will be glad to get the visit to the heart specialist behind me.