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I passed the test of my life (and found the old Spark)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

It started innocently. A morning scare. A feeling of pressure like an encyclopedia resting heavily on my chest. Radiating tingling all the way down my left arm. Sweaty. Clammy. Threw up a little. I wasn't really doing anything strenuous. What the hell is going on? Uh-oh.

Calmly we call the doctor. Off to the ER. Can't hit the "snooze" button when you've got family history of sudden, deadly heart attacks at early ages. I'm a woman hovering near 50 y/o. Fairly healthy, but with stress. I just knew something wasn't right.

I spend 8 hours lounging around the ER. I witness others fighting for their lives. I hear people moaning in pain. I sure seem better off than most. This perspective gives me some small comfort, but what the hell is going on with my body? Doc says it could be a heart attack in progress. Could be a pulmonary embolism. Could be something else.

Man, I hate hospitals. Usually, I find myself there waiting for news about the people in my life...not for ME.

I'm worried and ashamed because I've packed on 35 of the 90 lbs I lost a few years ago. My original loss was accomplished with the help and inspiration of Sparkpeople. I know re-gain happens to many of us. Although I've kept the bulk of that nasty, unnecessary weight off, I wonder if I've compromised my health. I lost my way by giving in to the emotional crap and chronic chaos that has colored my recent life.

I try so hard to be there for everyone else. I'm the "understanding" one. The person who fixes the problems. I clean up messes I don't make. But what about me? What am I doing to get to MY better place? I have lots of time to ponder these notions in my floppy traction socks and half-tied, flimsy gown.

I drink in small doses of relief as one by one the tests come back clean. But, they are still concerned. The furrowed forehead and tone of voice make me wary. I trade my lackluster ER accommodations for an overnight stay in a hospital room. I haven't done that since birth over 48 years ago. Well, it was a good long streak. More tests to come in the morning. Lots of monitoring, poking, prodding. Not much sleep. Nobody really tells me what's up.

Day 2 activities begin at an early hour. Echocardiogram (all is fine). Cardiac catheterization a.k.a. angiogram (all is fine ). Well, except they scraped my tiny arm artery with the scope. Post-procedure inflammation flares are no picnic, but not life-altering. I can deal with pain and minor complications. Seeing pictures of my heart pumping was a little creepy. I have newfound respect for the wonder of human anatomy and the architect of this clever system.

Whew, I'm fine. I have a normal heart. Looks like I'm going to be around doing my thing for at least a little longer.

Actually, I am AMAZING. Until this point in my life, I've never known what my heart may or may not do. Congenital defect? Clogged arteries? Stress tests don't tell you much, but that angiogram sure does. Doc says I shouldn't worry about much heart-related for at least 5 years. This knowledge is a gift I never expected.

Lessons Learned:

#1 - ALWAYS listen to the little voice in your head. My incident happened about 2 weeks before Rosie O'Donnell publicly announced her heart attack. We sure seemed to be having the exact same symptoms. She ended up dodging the widowmaker. I may have felt the after effects of a pinched nerve, early back disc issue, or something else. I was lucky. I also was responsive and cautious. I didn't shrug it off. I'm no hypochondriac. I have a high tolerance for pain/discomfort. I usually suck it up and go on with my day. But this time felt different. Couldn't take the chance.

#2 - NOW is the time to reevaluate everything that brings on stress. Some of it is controllable. Some isn't. I'm choosing to make changes in my default orientation and priorities. I'm putting the gentle word out to the people in my life: "I love and care about you, but you have to step up and handle more things yourself. I can't and don't want to do it anymore." It feels good. Seeking more balance. Taking baby steps.

#3 - COMMIT to what it takes to reach a healthy place. I'm not that far off. A pile of too snug clothing hanging in the closet is frustrating and cracks my vanity, but it's not enough to motivate real change. My goal of shedding the extra weight is my life insurance. Except it will pay off while I'm still alive.

So I'm back. Armed with new information and a desire to protect the gift of my good heart for as long as possible. Away we go!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ELISADENK 10/27/2013 7:00PM


What an ordeal!!

You are an amazing person!!!

Just to let you know.... hormonal imbalances can make one's heart beat quicker and/or stronger. Only a few seconds worth, tho.

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KAYOTIC 8/26/2012 1:52PM

    Glad your tests came back with good results, and that you are taking this as an opportunity to focus on yourself and your health. It's so easy to put yourself on the back burner, and find other priorities, but it's important for you and those you love not to do that!

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DRPOOH63 8/25/2012 10:54PM

    This is a great blog. Thanks for sharing your experience and the reminder to listen.

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KPETSCHE 8/25/2012 2:43PM


Glad the tests gave you good results. It's hard to decrease your reaction to stress but it seems that you know what you need to accomplish. SP is a valuable tool to get you back to that healthier point. Good luck!


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I'm Wide, But Not Fat!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Today was official weigh in day. Not much of a budge on the scale since last month only minor reduced inches, but some progress has been made!

I decided a few days ago to drop my weekly calorie goal some more to shake up my body a bit along with some informal calorie cycling. I think it is a good plan as I swing into month #2 of trying to get back to where I belong. It seems to be working. Also being mindful of carb consumption. I can't live w/o them, but I was exceeding my range too often.

The best news is that my energy level, resting heart rate (59), and estimated body fat % are awesome! I don't have a fancy scale or those skinfold calipers, but I used two different mathematical BF calculators and decided to record the higher result for tracking (16%).

I guess this means I am LEAN. It probably is somewhat skewed as I have a tiny waist and more ample hips. But I don't care...this makes me feel positive and healthy! DH keeps rolling along sans alcohol. Thus, life stress levels are definitely way better than they were at the end of 2010.

Looking forward to slipping back into my clothes without thinking "damn, these are snug" -- but I'll take these modest victories for now.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MARIANTONIA2 2/3/2011 2:04PM

    It looks like you are doing all the right things. Keep up the good work. Hope that your husband keeps on track

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AKAFIT 2/3/2011 10:56AM

    Way to go. Girl, as a woman with "AMPLE HIPS" myself, I say if you are working out, watching what you eat, and being more conscious of healthier choices all together who cares about the rest.

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Pause to Exhale

Saturday, January 22, 2011

This is a blog entry to remind myself that I can "feel good" -- which I do right now. I just finished a Powerstrikes workout (love Ilaria!). Fought through this semi-chest cold thingy and PMS and just got it done. She makes it fun.

My DH made it to 30 days sober late last last week...and is continuing on. Amen! I feel like we are more of a "team" again rather than enemy combatants co-existing under the same roof. As he works to free himself from the fog of a long cycle of toxic abuse, he appears to be much more grateful for what he has and less focused on what he doesn't have and never will. May the clouds continue to part with each passing day.

On a lighter note, I am wondering why I seem to burn far fewer calories than others Sparkers who weigh about what I do right now and do similar activities I know everyone is different, but the disparity is big. Does this mean I am more fit? I use a HRM, so I'm pretty sure the stats are accurate. I work out hard, to the DVDs i have -- try to mix them up -- but my heart rate doesn't elevate much anymore unless I am jogging. Guess I'll have to start getting back to that on the treadmill. It is too damn cold to even think about taking it outside.

It has only been a few weeks, but I'm starting to restore some of my fitness level and seeing a bit of toning. My muscles sure feel sore. Must be patient for the results to kick in (not my strong suit).

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ELISADENK 10/27/2013 6:55PM


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KAYOTIC 1/23/2011 1:15PM

    Good for you (and your husband) for treating yourselves right in a healthy way....

About the calories burning thing, I don't compare my stats to anyone else's, for some of the reasons you've listed. I use a HRM too, and I think that is most accurate, (more so than what the machines say, or estimates on websites, including SparkPeople!). You also have your own set of circumstances and level of fitness, which will not be able to be compared to any one else. And in the end, it only matters for your journey what you have done on any given day, so just track it, monitor it, and don't compare it to any one else. It will free you!

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MARIANTONIA2 1/22/2011 9:59PM

    I'm so glad your husband is continuing his efforts to remain sober, and I hope he will continue to do so. You seem to be doing well regarding your physical activity. At least you are seeing a bit of toning, but aren't you pushing kyourself too hard? Sometimes no matter how hard we try we don't see the results that we expect. I'm limiting myself to physical therapy exercises and a half-hour video three times a week. I would like to do more, but I get all kinds of aches and pains. I'm supposed to exercise one hour a day, but I think that's too much for me. Maybe I should stick to walking. That's something I can do at home.

Yes, you have to be patient!

Take care.



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FRIENDOFBACH 1/22/2011 9:27PM

  Remember, one step at a time is easy, trying to do everything at once is a lot harder. Congratulations on being fit!

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Pushing Through the Muck

Friday, January 07, 2011

I'm slowly returning to my old "get with it" mindset. Thank goodness I seem to have a stored memory about how to live healthier by making good choices. I feel I simply strayed for a while in my struggle to battle too many external forces that shook my confidence.

Today I am better. My DH is 16 days sober for one thing. His progress has restored a powerful sense of calm, harmony, and hope in our relationship. He seems more aware, and although he still experiences the underlying anxiety, he seems to be summoning new strength and will to finally address a long-standing, failed way of coping with life's disappointments. I pray for his continued focus and commitment.

My work projects seem to be progressing after several stalls and needless undermining. I was vindicated by putting in significant extra effort and time. I managed to swat away an insecure person's attempts to save his own a$$ by attempting to throw mine under a bus. It definitely took a toll, but it also helped me find my way back to believing in my convictions and capabilities.

I've also managed to string together a few days of good, controlled eating. I'm definitely an emotional eater. I have to be vigilant for the rest of my life. Find the balance.

I am happy to be catching myself much sooner than last time. This time, it doesn't feel like a hopeless free fall. It seems manageable. There have been a few bruises, but not the damage I let build up through years of neglect. It may be only a number, but I won't see or feel the "me" who was 220 lbs ever again.

With age, comes different challenges. In many ways, life is harder because we are smarter. We have the cold, harsh reality of our own experiences as reminders. Time is shorter, so it becomes more meaningful. An older body requires extra effort to push through the muck. Good thing I've got my waders strapped on.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PSSN4FITNESS 1/12/2011 5:12PM

    Wow, your last paragraph really hit home. Every moment is more meaningful and sometimes I feel like that actually adds to the pressure we put on ourselves. But, we just need to stay true to ourselves and what we want for our lives.

Congratulations for your DH being 16 days sober. That's a great accomplishment and I am sure he appreciates your support. I am glad that things seem to be coming together and that you can see the light at the end of tunnel. Keep the faith! We will push through!

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MARIANTONIA2 1/7/2011 8:37PM

    I will pray for you and for your DH. I can identify with you. Last month I lost a son to alcoholism. I saw him die slowly during a week that he was on Critical Care. My heart goes out to you. I know how difficult this situation is for you. I will pray really hard for your husband, day and night, like I do for the rest of my family. Don't lose your faith. Continue your efforts to lose weight and reach your goal. May God bless you both.



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Facing Facts

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I am both a "maintainer" AND a person who needs to lose weight.

You didn't read that incorrectly. Here's the evidence...

#1 - Honor the accomplishment:
As of this morning, I've successfully kept 67 unwanted lbs off my body for about 1 1/2 years.

#2 - Deal with the reality:
I've gained back 23 lbs since my lowest recorded Spark weight, which I was so very proud of this time last year.

I know why. We all do. Stress. Struggle. Excuses. Boredom. Life's lovely, little curve balls. The enemies of the weak for sure.

I have maintained my fitness and energy levels for the most part. But, I am now ready to admit that I need to swing the pendulum back in the right direction. I'm hopping back on the weight loss train from now until the Spring Thaw. 90 days to get back to my original 90 lb weight loss total.

For those of you who find yourselves in the same place, join me in remembering the promise to NEVER go back to where we came from.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PSSN4FITNESS 1/3/2011 6:48PM

    I hear you! I have gained some weight back myself, but overall I am still proud that I have keep 30lbs of it off. It is time to push into the next phase. Keep your head up! You can do it!

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MARIANTONIA2 12/30/2010 6:46PM

    You did it before, and you can do it again. As you know, maintaining is more difficult than losing weight. Sometimes we let go. But now that you have decided to go back to your original 90-lb. weight loss total, your determination will permit you to get there. Keep trying. Never give up. By the Spring Thaw you will be exactly where you want to be.

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