I know some of you have been following my splash into gluten- and caffeine- free living (now approaching the one month mark!) and recently you may have noticed that I add the #winning hashtag to my updates about walking.
Well as most of my long-time friends know, back in 2009 I was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) stemming from a viral infection that attacked the muscle in my heart. I was really sick. Like almost needed a heart transplant sick. My heart function was really low (15; normal is 60). I had a left branch bundle block (say that three times fast!) which means, basically, that the right and left sides of my heart were not beating in sync and my heart was significantly enlarged. After 8 days in the hospital, fighting with my cardiologist to get more personalized care since I’m not a senior citizen and when I talked to him about long-term I meant at least 20 years and he was all 3-5 years. Yeah, all set with that! Fired him not soon after and found the most amazing doctor in the world (RIP Ken).
I didn’t have any underlying heart disease. No blockages, no high blood pressure, nothing but the heart of a very old, very sick woman. But I was determined to beat it back and not let it define me or my future. I was one of the lucky ones. In six short months my heart function was back to 50, the left branch bundle block was completely resolved and my heart had returned to it’s normal size without any valve or muscle damage.
Cardiac rehab saved my future. I’m convinced that the program at Jordan Hospital is the reason that I was able to not only make a full recovery but by 2011 I was considered “reversed” and I, along with my family, were overjoyed! I had my life back but more important than that, I had my future back.
That was then. As of August 2013, I’m looking at a new future and I’m really not liking what I see.
My heart function is going down. 42 at the last visit and the left branch bundle block is back (that’s even harder to say!) I go back in January and if I continue to lose function or the bundle block gets worse, it’s an implantable device, most likely a pacemaker. They have some theories on the backslide but nothing definitive; we may never know.
So what does this have to do with #winning?
It is my new outlook. My one and only chance to have a healthy and long life is to work as hard as I can now to get myself as healthy as I can. That means walking, eating healthy, and knocking off all the bull. I came pretty damn close to dying in 2009 and this is the last wake-up call I’m going to need.
I will win against whatever is attacking my heart.
#winning because it’s the only choice I have.