five days in a cardiac ward

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pneumonia episode

Five days in the cardiac ward Posted Nov 15, 2011

On November 4, I went to the hospital for surgery to remove fluid that was around my left lung. While they were prepping me, I fainted. My heart rate got dangerously low. In fact, it stopped for about 30 seconds. They put me in a cardiac ward, hooked up to a heart monitor for five days while they "observed" me and ran some tests. I had a stress test and an echocardiogram. Both produced normal results. I was taken off my blood pressure meds, because they lower my pulse too much.

I had ultrasound on my left leg. They found a blood clot. I was released "with ervies" (i.e. visiting nurses for four days).

I'm on blood thinner now (Warfarin). I get blood tests every two days. I wear a tight stocking on my leg to help reduce the swelling from the blood clot. If I wear it all night, the swelling goes away almost entirely.

I'm learning how to do a lot of things sitting down.

Things will get better little by little. I'm sorry I was away from H2G2, but I've thought about you every day.
Posted Nov 15, 2011 by Rev Nick

I'm so pleased you were in the right place at the right time for the 'fainting spell'. I've not read up on Warfarin, but not long ago someone posted on FB about a son on the stuff for life now. Do your research mate, be aware of possible risks and consequences please
And welcome back, stocking and all. cheers


Posted Nov 15, 2011 by Dmitri Gheorgheni, Post Editor

Ouch, scary stuff. Hang in there, follow all their orders.

Glad you're back online.

Posted Nov 15, 2011 by Mistadrong, (Count vonCount.)

Glad to hear that they took good care of you. It's scary to think what
could have happened at the wrong place at the wrong time. I know quite a
few people who are on warfarin, it's ok as long as you are careful.
Can I suggest one of those SOS bracelets or pendants where you keep
a record of meds in case of an accident?

Posted Nov 15, 2011 by Elektragheorgheni

I hope you can get your Internet connection stabilized. Do they have a Geek-squad up there for the house bound?

Posted Nov 15, 2011 by Online Nowpaulh,

Yes, they have a geek squad. The trouble is that I bring the computer to Data Doctors. [It was on Center Street in West Roxbury, but it closed and was replaced by True Value Hardware. They fix it, and I bring it home again, and as soon as I turn the computer on, I'm told that Internet Explorer is "missing" again. And yet it's not missing. It's right there in the computer. All I have to do is ask the puppy dog to search for it.


November 16, 2011

Thanks, prof, and Mudhooks. I'm sleeping well at night, and I've figured out some easy ways to do my chores and errands. I'm grateful for the expert care I received while in the hospital. The clinic I go to is a couple miles away, and they've always done a great job, too.


Posted Nov 17, 2011 by Online Nowpaulh,

I have a Covidien anti-embolism stocking to wear. I keep it on all night, and when I wake up in the morning every bit of swelling is gone.

The catch is that I only have the one stocking. It's starting to smell. Another pair would cost about $18.00. My foot doctor hopes to have another option for me tomorrow. We'll see.
Posted Nov 17, 2011 by Dmitri Gheorgheni, Post Editor

Those stockings are a worthwhile investment, Paul. Wear one, wash one.

Elektra found them very useful during the earlier part of her BP regimen. Now she's down to normal.

Posted Nov 17, 2011 by Online Nowpaulh

I probably will order one (they're listed on eBay), unless I can find some in a medical supplies store in my area

Posted Nov 18, 2011 by Online Nowpaulh

Technically, they're called anti-embolism stockings because they inhibit clots from forming in the lower legs.

They look like the tights that ballet dancers wear.

Posted Nov 19, 2011 by Online Nowpaulh

Today I'm feeling great. I want to be as active as possible. Hopefully on Monday the doctor will let me resume swimming.

The foot specialist doctor gave me some supportive stretch tubing to wear on my leg at night. It turned out to be very comfortable.

When I had pneumonia, my appetite disappeared, but lately I've been dreaming about food every night, and thinking about food between meals. I've started eating more, though I don't think I've regained any weight yet. That's another matter to ask the doctor about. The thing is, I lost about ten pounds during the pneumonia episode. Weight loss can put stress on the heart. If I do regain any weight, it should probably be slow.

Posted Nov 20, 2011 by Online Nowpaulh

I'm calculating that I bottomed out on November 4. Since then, everything has been going up. I have diagnoses and treatments for all my problems. My leg swells less and less, and my foot seems to be healing slowly.

I have a list of five questions for the doctor. This should help focus things. The thing is, he has huge amounts of data to sift through. I was on a heart monitor for five days, and I had a stress test and an echocardiogram. My blood pressure is the only question mark. Will it go up? Has it already gone up? Should I get a home blood pressure kit so I can monitor it at home?

I like to be active. I want to know how much I should do. I've had absolutely no guidance on that in a week.

I just ordered a pair of anti-embolism stockings on eBay, as I will likely be expected to wear one for the foreseeable future. I just want it to be comfortable. I bought a different brand at a drugstore on Friday, but they're too tight. This is a tricky business. There are a lot of details that I could use help with, but I'm stuck with what I can find out on Google or eBay.

Posted Nov 22, 2011 by Online Nowpaulh

My creative mind works overtime whether I'm awake or asleep, Jabs. Every night I dream about food. The other night I dreamed that I was picking raspberries so I could squash the berries for their juice. Then I found a large cache of roasted chicken in the woods, so I stopped to gather it and make sure it didn't go to waste.

This is a sign that my appetite has come back with a vengeance. I'm trying to be careful not to gain weight too much (or at all). It's a relief, though, because I can cook without worrying that I'll have to throw half the food away, as I had to do when I had pneumonia.

Posted Nov 23, 2011 by Online Nowpaulh

The saga continues: while I was in the hospital, my blood pressure stayed low, even without meds. Over the next ten days, my blood pressure became much higher, so now I am taking Lisinopril to get it down. I seem to be tolerating it okay so far at this dose level. The dose may well be increased in the future.

Posted Nov 25, 2011 by Online Nowpaulh

Welcome to the club, Mistadrong. The "pril" on the end of your medicine is a dead giveaway to the class it belongs to. "-pril" usually means that the med lowers is an ACE [Angiotensin Converting Enzyme] type of antihypertensive. I was on Captopril for a few weeks many years ago. It disagreed with my stomach, even at low doses. Lysinopril is the same sort of thing, but it's not as hard on my stomach. If I take three antacids within twenty minutes of taking it, the initial stomach discontent is neutralized.

What's funny is that Propranolol and the diuretic I was taking for 30 years were a constant cause of stomach acid [hence the need for antacids], but when I was taken off them for two weeks, my stomach was in such great shape that I needed no antacids for days on end.

Oh, well, the "No pain, no gain" slogan seems to apply here. In order to gain a healthy blood pressure, some pain must be accepted.

Posted Nov 30, 2011 by Online Nowpaulh

Some of the meds that I take seem to be free of side effects. I was on Lipitor [a.k.a. Atorvastatin], and then I was switched to Simvastatin. I never felt any side effects at all from them.

Atorvastatin does a fine job. It's just that my HMO [Health Maintenance Organization] was looking for ways to save money on the prescriptions it filled, so my doctor switched me away from Atorvastatin because there was no low-cost generic equivalent. There is a generic version of Simvastatin, so that's what I'm on now.

Posted Dec 3, 2011 by Online Nowpaulh

My doctor said that he carefully chose this medication. I've often been told that my potassium levels are on the low side. When I was in the hospital, I was given potassium supplements several times a day. I won't need them now, with this medication
Posted Dec 4, 2011 by Online Nowpaulh

In moderate amounts, alcohol is said to be good for your heart. Red wine in particular has resveratrol, which is as close to a rejuvenating substance as has ever been found. Some people claim that the French habit of drinking red wine explains the French Paradox, i.e. that the French drink a lot and eat fatty foods, but have lower levels of heart disease than one would otherwise expect.

The downside is that the more you drink, the greater is your risk of cancer.

I've been reading about Vitamin K2, which promotes heart health, particularly in its habit of putting calcium in your bones rather than in atherosclerotic deposits in your arteries. Vitamin K2 is found in liver, egg yolks, hard cheeses, butter from grass-fed cows, and many fermented products such as Natto (Japanese fermented syboeans) or sauerkraut. Even yogurt has a bit of it. Just think of the French love affair with butter, pate de foie gras, and duck fat. Maybe Vitamin K2 is just as responsible for their good health as the redwine is.

I eat everything in moderation,with as much variety as the Fates will allow. If you eat *too much* olive oil (and I know someone who does), you can get fat and may have trouble qualifying for health plans.
Posted Dec 5, 2011 by Online Nowpaulh
Variety is good for you. My mother grew up in a house where no foods were repeated from one meal to the next.
This was designed to get the most variety from one's diet.

For years, I was told that I had high cholesterol, and should go very easy on eggs and nuts. Now they're saying that nuts have valuable oils in them. I've eaten nuts and eggs all along, but not in large amounts.

There's a movement to replicate the Stone Age diet, on the grounds that this is what we're genetically programmed to do best with. This means eating things that one might find in the woods and fields: bird eggs, berries in season, small animals, mushrooms (though not the poisonous kinds), and edible greens that one might pick from the forest floor or field. Fresh fish from the rivers would also be good. And, since animals are rarely easy to catch, you would make the most of having caught one, eating not just the meat, but also the heart, liver, and other organs, where a lot of the best vitamins are lurking. Stone Age men didn't know about vitamins, but we do. There are valuable vitamins even in butter and egg yolks and animal fat. Likewise, fermented foods can be very nutritious, though I wouldn't go so far as to eat Japanese fermented soybeans, which is called Natto. It has tons of Vitamin K2, but it's smells like ammonia


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