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Annual heart checkup plus some personal notes

This post is about how I’ve managed my CAD, the information I have taken in from my Dr’s, trial and error, plus a status of where I’m at four and a half years later.

So, I had my annual cardiologist visit today. I was late to this because of a lot of things going on during the year. It was meant to be my four-year checkpoint but ended up being my four-and-a-half-year visit. As most of you know I am not anti “pharma” and I trust my Dr’s. I view medications like tools and medical professionals like my coaches, and I am happy to have both.

So today, my cardiologist said that I would be able to cut my statin dose in half since my numbers are very low. Less than 100 mg in total. The guideline he provided was that if my HDL remains under 70 then I could downsize to 40 mg per day dose instead of the current 80 mg dose. I plan to go in for bloodwork to check progress three months after I throttle down. I will remain on beta-blockers. Was hoping to explore alternatives but he’s happy with this protocol so that’s where I am staying. Aspirin, CoQ10 (which was my own addition – not a Dr recommendation) and a multi-vitamin remain as well.

My heart attack was precipitated by a blockage in my LAD, but all other areas were clear according to my Dr. So, while my stent is now over 4 years old, things seem to be going along well.

To combat some of the belly weight that both being newly 50 and the beta-blockers may be contributing to, I’m at 23% body fat fat ratio right now, dad-bod for sure, I will be switching to an 18-hour fasting regimen. With the help of a personal trainer I plan to see every other week I hope to push that number down as much as I can. My weight sits in at 175 lbs., I want to hit 162 lbs. within a 10-month period. All this is to support my 2020 goals of hiking both the Wonderland and the John Muir Trails. Strength and endurance improvements are the main goal here, not swimsuit readiness.

Diet-wise I am eating chicken, fish, turkey, bison, lots of fruits/veggies/grains. I also have been having, and plan to continue, having an occasional cheat meal (not cheat day) and treat myself to pizza, French Fries, cheeseburgers, and ice cream. I quit drinking, however, I will have a glass of wine now and then when the occasion calls for it. Like morel mushrooms. I think it’s a crime not to eat morels without a really great glass of Oregon Pinot Noir.

I let my numbers guide me. I share all my info and patterns with my medical professionals who serve as a sounding board helping me to make informed decisions. They are not responsible for me. I am. Though I am grateful for their help.

Anyway, I hope this perspective aids someone out there. It’s not prescriptive, I’m not a medical or diet professional. I’m just a guy navigating his way through living with CAD (and bouts of depression and anxiety), turning 50 recently while striking a balance between what I love and what I can realistically do.

I meditate daily and perform breathing exercises. I try not to turn down the opportunity for intimacy when it chooses to show up. I work on being open and transparent more than I used to with my feelings. I even spent the last 6 months walking and hiking as workouts. Stopped running for a time in fact. And, much to my surprise, everything was fine. However, I am now preparing to get back into lifting weights, one of my post-heart attack goblins there, and have a string of really challenging hikes with my 25 lbs. backpack on my back for the entire Fall and Winter seasons ahead of 2020.

I guess what I learned through all this is that it’s OK to choose to not be afraid. Or at least, in my case, stop reacting to the fear in my head. Choose your own path based on what you enjoy. Always keep in touch with your Dr’s but don’t self-monitor yourself into hysteria over numbers that always fluctuate. As I walked to my appointment this morning, in fact, I meditated on all of the hikes and good times I’ve had over the last four years. Fear was doing it’s best to present itself. I’m happy to say that, what I once thought might be a foolish attempt to make memories, pursuing all the things I have, to bring more enjoyment into my life, well… it actually worked. I went into the appointment and was ready to accept good or bad news.

Chances are, if you’ve survived a heart event, you get all this. It’s the day to day with heart disease. It’s just nice to finally be in a place where, yeah, it’s still there, but I feel much more like myself than I have in a long long time. Life can be like floating down a river. You have to paddle with the current, sometimes against, to get where you are going. But ultimately, we all arrive.

Photo from a recent trip to Mohican State Forest to do some kayaking.
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