First of all: Thank you for your countless emails, tweets, Facebook entries and blog comments following my surprise heart attack. I still struggle to keep up with the stream of communication coming in from so many different directions. Now that this episode is a little bit over a week behind me, I am trying to answer the questions I most commonly get: How do you feel? What next? What changed?
How do I feel?
I am still confused, because I still don’t understand why I had a heart attack. Yes, I get the part of hereditary heart disease. Yes, my dad had three of them, and the last one he did not survive. But, I started life style changes a long time ago, did yearly physicals, had great cholesterol levels (mid 170’s), no history of high blood pressure, exercise regularly. I ate a pretty decent diet, love my food and wine, and was not too concerned with caloric intake because I knew that I was burning an average of 7500 calories per week just cycling.
So, I still can’t grasp the why and that does some odd things to my psyche; I am irritable, I am tired and I ache. Some of it is medication related and I hope that this week Tuesday’s visit with my cardiologist will bring some adjustment to the medications.
Other than the occasional pain pill I am not one used to meds, so when you are suddenly on 5 medications, some of them twice a day, it is pretty unnerving. I also don’t like some of the disclaimers of these meds, i.e. “Do not discontinue to take. Failure to do so may cause a massive heart attack!” Just great…
I often get very cold, something else very new to me. Fatigue sets in without warning and I sleep longer than ever. Ever since I got home from the hospital I slept around 10 hours per day, 4 more hours than I am used to. I started walking, I am not allowed to cycle yet (hoping to get an answer as to when soon), and I use my Garmin to monitor this activity as I am supposed to keep my heart rate for the time being always below 110.
It’s not all bad, mind you, after all I was back to work within 5 days, I can walk, my outlook for full recovery is excellent, so why the gloom and doom? I don’t know yet, but I will let you know when I get to the bottom of it.
What is next?
It seems I will remain on some of these meds, likely 3 or 4 of them for the rest of my life. Diet changes only require me to lower my sodium intake, but wait, that is SALT!!!! SALT I love, SALT I crave, SALT which makes taste everything a gazillion better. This one really sucks!!! My wife and I spend quiet some time mulling over weekly menus, trying to merge her low sugar diet with my low salt diet. Lots of fun folks, NOT! Again I hope to get a better understanding of this whole low-sodium intake.
To put it into perspective: if you are the kind of person which does not look at nutrition labels and consume a lot of food that is prepared by others, or comes out of containers or cans, you likely consume between 4000 to 5000 mg of sodium per day. My daily target is 1500 mg, again for perspective 1/4 teaspoon of salt = 575 mg. I have to really think, what, how much and when I eat and of course, there will be tons of cooking in our future, since cooking everything from scratch is about the only logical way to control the intake. My first project will be working on a good low-sodium pizza dough recipes; the goal, less than 300 mg of salt per slice, compared to the average 2300 mg per slice for store bought…
That is likely the easies one to answer: everything