ETCHILDE

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Me and my family just after my daughter's dance recital




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I'm a physicist with a sweet-tooth and a serious heart condition. I'm married with two kids (all of whom I love dearly). My family is my inspiration to lose weight...a LOT of it. I'm going to need plenty of encouragement, so please don't hesitate to "egg me on"! Thanks ;~)

In 1996 I was diagnosed with Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy. That's a genetic heart disease where the septum (the wall between the ventricles) grows out into the left ventricle. Once it gets thick enough, it starts to impinge on blood flow. It really feels like (what I imagine) a heart attack. Chest pains, shortness of breath, shooting pain along the inside of my left arm, etc. I took a lot of different medicines (beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, etc). The condition worsened until one day, I was walking across the UNCC campus and passed out just as I was about to enter the cafeteria. That was August of 2000. I was 27.

When I came to, there were people around me asking if I was ok. It was good to know that even on a campus (where I'm generally invisible) people are concerned enough to check on the guy who just passed out on his face while going to lunch (I'm sure it happens every weekend, but that's late at night and there's "good wholesome" fun going on...RIGHT). Anyway, that night I voluntarily went to the ER and told them what had happened. They immediately rushed me back and decided to keep me. The next day, they came in and told me that my condition had worsened to the point where it was life threatening. They decided to install an AICD, that's a pacemaker with a built-in defibrillator. They had hoped to use its built in capability to change the order in which the heart beat by squeezing the ventricles first to move some blood out, then squeezing the atrium to reload the ventricles. Well, unfortunately that didn't work out too well, but the left the AICD in place because of the real threat posed by my disease: ARRHYTHMIA

Yes, the reason people die from this disease is not because of the loss of blood flow. Like all muscles, the heart should have sinuy muscle fibers. With this disease the muscle tissue is scrambled. This allows for multiple conduction pathways for the electrical pulse (that causes the heart to beat) to travel. Some of those pathways lead back up to the starting point (in the atrium). When that occurs, it is like a feedback loop (just like when the microphones at church are turned up too loud and they squeal). The pulse makes the heart squeeze, the pulse travels back up to start another beat, the pulse travels back up to start another beat... This feedback happens so fast that the heart rhythm can jump from a normal resting rate of 70bpm on one beat to 240bpm in the very next beat. If this occurs for more than 10 seconds, you are most likely going to pass out. If there isn't immediate intervention, you will die. See, the heart doesn't move any blood at that rate. No blood...no conscience...no life.

OK, long explanation, but the story gets even better. After the surgery to install the AICD, the doctor came in and told me that their therapy with it was not going to work like they hoped. That meant they were going to send me to the Mayo Clinic for a septal myomectomy. That's where they fillet out a section of the thickened heart muscle. Now they do such a surgery through a catheter. It is minimally invasive...practically outpatient. But at the time it was open heart, which meant cracking the chest and going on life support for the duration.

I was an emotional wreck. Scared to death about the impending surgery. You'd think that would be bad enough. For such a surgery, I needed to get prior approval from my "blue" insurance company. They were not responsive. I sent many letters, and contacted as many people as I could. Finally I had no choice but to schedule the surgery and buy the tickets. I didn't know for sure whether or not the insurance was even going to pay.

There's a lot more to this story. Check back soon. It's 1AM and I have to leave for church at 8am. Good night!


Member Since: 11/13/2009

Fitness Minutes: 5,141

My Goals:
Lose weight

Avoid a heart transplant

Play with my kids

Spark interest from my wife


My Program:
I'm still working out the details.



Lower calories

Exercise daily!



Personal Information:
Hickory, NC


Other Information:
I am a cardiac patient (Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy)



Have had open heart surgery for a septal myomectomy



Am on my third AICD (that's a pacemaker with a defribulator built in)



I've been shocked by my AICD 9 times...NO its not fun...YES it hurts




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Comments
  • v BMRBUDDY
    Hi!
    I'm just stopping by to see how you are doing. I haven't been Sparking as much as I would like. I haven't seen you on much though. I hope things are good!

    Kate
    2444 days ago
  • v DODGETRMAN
    hey guy thanks for the add. i havent been able to keep up with sparkpeople very well the last 3 weeks. i have been doing p90x and have a 1 yr old daughter thats been keeping me busy. best of luck on your journey.
    2475 days ago
  • v DBELLE39
    Hope dinner went well with the guys --perhaps there were some healthy items to chose from. LOL! ---With my DH --his choice would be lots of meat & potatoes --- still working on getting him to eat healthier --you would think with a history of 4 attacks it would be easier. Have a great weekend.
    2478 days ago
  • v BMRBUDDY
    Thanks so much for the encouragement. That first blog was hard to do, believe it or not! Pretty silly. I will get more out there.
    You have a beautiful family. You must be very proud of them. I just love the photo of the sleeping babies. They look so peaceful, not a care in the world!
    2481 days ago
  • v EDUCGRAD
    Sorry to hear about the problem with your heart.My dad had a leaky heart valve.I've had at least one other relative that has had this.My brother had some kind of defect. So glad you are on Spark people.That is partly why I joined as my weight had gone up and heart disease and high blood pressure run in my family.Congrats on your progress.
    2483 days ago
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