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1st 5K of the Season

Monday, March 11, 2013

Well, at least sorta... :-)

I worked late tonight so I wouldn't have to take off time for my quickie update appt w my PCP tomorrow morning. But this was the last of our "spring preview" days of mild temps and I wasn't going to be denied one more walk outdoors!

But I had a challenge on my hands: the setting sun! Just because we had our daylight savings change this past weekend doesn't mean I've been magically transported to the Land of the Midnight Sun!

So if I was to get some bang for my buck and avoid getting chased out by the park police I'd have to hup-to!

I started right in with jogging, no walking, and pleasantly found myself able to keep it going for a while. The idea of doing a 5K didn't really occur until I covered some distance. At the turnaround point I took a break and walked thru "Lowdown"... :-) Then back to finish up the 5K distance jogging...with a little help from Huey Lewis' Power of Love.

It's been a super few days of hitting the trails, no not on two wheels, but on two feet!

Going to be a chilly rest-of-the-week, so it'll be time to take it indoors and get the heck back to the fitness center!

Keep it Sparkin' everybody!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

_VALEO_ 3/14/2013 6:37AM

    emoticon Don!

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WATERMELLEN 3/13/2013 8:38PM

    Fantastic. Nothing like that Power of Love!! (self love too of course)

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FITWITHIN 3/12/2013 9:24PM

    emoticon DDOORN! I'm about to step up my game with the outdoors workouts. Keep up the great job! emoticon

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CRAVINGLIFE 3/12/2013 11:43AM

    Nice way to cross train! Hope your appointment went well today.

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PIGSOFGREEN 3/12/2013 10:52AM

    LOVE it!! I hope today's appointment goes well for you

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2BMYOWN 3/12/2013 10:40AM

    Will be thinking of ya, sparky bud! I am seriously impressed. LOL

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CHANGE4FIT 3/12/2013 8:56AM

    Always the silver linings finder! emoticon

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PMRUNNER 3/12/2013 4:04AM

    Way to take advantage of the nice weather!

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L*I*T*A* 3/12/2013 3:25AM

    way to go..........
all the best with your PCP tomorrow......
blessings and hugs.........lita

emoticon emoticon emoticon

emoticon emoticon

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STRIVERONE 3/12/2013 12:38AM

    And then the rains came. Good thing you seized the day.

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NADINEL 3/11/2013 10:34PM

    Sounds like you had some fun today! emoticon
I know you will keep us updated on stuff. I am praying for you!

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GETSTRONGRRR 3/11/2013 9:52PM

    Good job and way to take advantage of a little extra daylight. Enjoy the good weather and the rush of air in your lungs!

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PATRICIAAK 3/11/2013 9:24PM

    Good luck with the PCP tomorrow.

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Common Ground

Friday, March 08, 2013

Update time!

Saw the cardiologist nurse practitioner earlier this week. And the news? Frustratingly less than conclusive. But in many ways it is pretty positive...even if it DID send me into a bit of a funk this week, struggling to see the glass as at least half full. I remind myself of the far more difficult medical conundrums others manage to navigate. I've seen clients who have neurological conditions which render them in excruciating pain 24 x 7 who would be elated to find that their medical problem was terminal!

Still, I spent the better part of a week or longer moping...stuck in a mood of "if-I-can't-do-what-I-wanna-do-why-bother-
doing-anything" mode. Yep, a pretty bad case of stinkin' thinkin'. Good news? I finished the anti-coagulant injections in the belly and am only taking oral Coumadin. Bad news? My belly is a multicolored mess with a nasty hematoma the size of a grapefruit bulging out where I must have bumped it...making me VERY self-conscious and wincing when making a number of movements. And you know, since I'm already in a *mood*, I am of course all OVER that half empty glass! Been avoiding the fitness center. Not good, I know.

More info from the NP: she offered a helpful metaphor so that I could better understand my atrial flutter. The heart as a house: you got plumbing and electricity. My plumbing, from what they could tell, appears in pretty good shape. Good news! However: my electricity is less than optimal.

Even after the cardioversion (shock to the heart) during my holter monitor study of my "corrected" heart rate, my heart rate dipped down to the 30s again and there was one point at which my heart STOPPED, for nearly three seconds. Sobering!

Atrial flutters such as what I have are very unpredictable and the cause of the condition is likely never to be known. REALLY hate not being able to KNOW this!

In all likelihood, my condition will deteriorate over time and require an ablasion and pacemaker to prevent my heart rate from dropping dangerously low. Since I've come around to understanding that a pacemaker is not a bad thing, if I had my druthers I would almost just as soon get it over with and have the darned thing put in.

But my condition is not serious enough to warrant this. We must wait. Watch. Monitor. Wonder. Ugh.

And in the meantime for the next few months I must take the Coumadin due to the previous lengthy period of atrial flutter there is potential for all sorts of clots lurking throughout my body which could wreak havoc and potentially kill me.

So my Coumadin paranoia continues. My road cycling days are delayed. Registration is opening up for upcoming summer cycling events and I dare not put my money down...at least just yet. We're heading into the 50's this weekend and bike club members are posting all sorts of rides they're going to be doing...sigh.

The good news about my condition is that it is not the kind of heart problem that will take me out at moment's notice, ala Jim Fixx. The very worst case scenario she painted was that after exerting myself my heart rate could potentially drop so low that I might pass out with an episode of syncope. Given that I went for at least months with this condition without ever experiencing anything close to that I suspect the odds of syncope are very long for me.

So okay, I've got my full clearance to return to the fitness center with no restrictions...great news! But you know our buddy Newton: an object at rest tends to stay at rest...? The challenge now is getting back in action and doing what I want to do, sans road cycling.

While waiting for my belly to heal a little more (say, another week...?) I'm going to commit to getting out for walks, Nordic walking and build back up to jogging. The Binghamton Bridge Run is coming up early May...it will mark my 3rd year doing my one and only annual official 5K. As most of you know...running just ain't my thing...! :-) But gotta mix it up!

In that spirit, I got out for a 70 min. chunk of Nordic Walking through Otsiningo Park which very quickly gave me just exactly the boost I needed! I had forgotten how wonderful it was to get out into nature and "lose" myself into the music, movement, skies and sights! I could put all this medical stuff a zillion miles away!

Near the beginning of my walk Sergio Mendes' "Funky Bahia" just had me smiling and grooving! Even though the song conjures warm summer images, the weather was sunny, snow almost gone, hinting at warmer weather on the horizon...be forewarned: you're gonna wanna clap, sing along and MOVE your body!


How do you Nordic walk and move to the groove at the same time...? Dunno, but I had fun trying! :-)

Later a remixed version of Incognito came up...couldn't remember the name of it. but the remix is WAY better than the studio version...funky, jazzy bass hooks, snappy drums and then the vocals...I recognize the title from her singing and I laugh out loud as it seems to be a "message" for me: "It Ain't Easy!" Unfortunately it doesn't appear to be on YouTube, but if you happen to have Spotify you can play it here:

Incognito It Ain't Easy - Tom Middleton-Cosmos Remix

A speed walker passes me by and I feel a stab of envy over his pace...he's making tracks faster than that jogger who passed me earlier! I make a feeble attempt to try and keep up for a little bit and then just let it go. I'll build my speed up. I'll get there! Later he loops back passes me on his return and I compliment him: "Nice pace!" He smiles as he goes.

Bruce Hornsby's "Valley Road" comes up and I smile some more, thinking back to that video he made with his band while performing this number and all the townspeople, hog too! are just boogying along to the song: "Walk On!"

Here's the original video...I remember it from the days when I used to catch a little VH-1 now & then:


You just can't watch that video without smiling and feeling better! Heck I even smile over the stones that have hitchhiked their way into my sneakers, remembering how that feels all over again!

Near the end of my walk I'm approaching the large field with several soccer fields end-to-end where I practice my cross country skiing when there is enough snow. Today it is filled with geese grazing among the blades of grass poking through the last of our winter snow and Paul Winter's song, "Common Ground" begins. It is from the 1979 album of the same name and I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone with musical preferences along the New Age, ecologically-minded and multi-cultural influences. Mr. Winter is the global ambassador of peace, good-will and sharing across all people and animals. Unfortunately this is another one that isn't on YouTube, but you can hear a little snatch of it at Amazon...and check out the praise others lavish for this album!



"Voices are calling 'round the earth.
Music is rising in the sea.
The spirit of morning fills the air,
guiding my journey home.
Where is the path beyond the forest?
Where is the song I always knew?
I remember it's just around the bend,
in the village the music never ends.

In a circle of friends, in a circle of sound.
All our voices will blend when we touch common ground.

Somewhere is the melody we need.
There is a certain harmony,
Even a rhythm in the trees,
in the song that we've always known.
As every road comes to its end,
So every path must cross again.
Now I'm returning to my heart,
back to the song that is our own.

In a circle of friends, in a circle of sound.
All our voices will blend when we touch common ground."


Heartfelt thank you's going out to my SparkFamily, my "circle of friends" with our Common Ground!

My walk today reminds me, for all the angst and aggravation I've experienced through my body, I am still SO FORTUNATE to have a body that feels SO FINE to MOVE!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

_VALEO_ 3/14/2013 6:29AM

    Good to read this update!
Try to stay positive, and make the best of it! I love my Nordic poles too, even if it can't compete with your cycling... see it as a great way to feel your body, the nature around you...

I know what races mean to you. Why don't you volunteer this time and root for the others?

Due to my health condition, I couldn't take part of any cx country skiing race this winter (not sure I'll be able in the future), but I've supported the racers on the side in my snow shoes. It is a great way to feel a bit part of it!

Comment edited on: 3/14/2013 6:30:14 AM

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CHANGE4FIT 3/12/2013 8:53AM

No matter how long I am away, when I return to Spark I know you will have posted something motivational. I am sorry to hear you have been experiencing these health issues...hope your improvement continues! What impressed me most about this blog was that you carried your reader through the whole gamet of emotions-I almost felt like I was living Kubler-Ross or maybe even Erickson's developmental stages in fast forward. While the story itself is powerful, the way you capture the reader and carry them "through a journey" in a single blog entry is motivating. Thank you for sharing and reminding us all of the gifts we tend to overlook daily. Best to you!

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2BMYOWN 3/11/2013 12:47PM

    Good to see an update, sparky bud. Many prayers and healing thoughts your way, keep taking care of yourself and being proactive and just doing what you can do, and keep us posted on your progress. Ouch to the hematoma, I am glad you are done with the heparin injections! Most of all, I am glad you are taking care of yourself and keeping within the limitations you have to work with right now. Keep up the good work.

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HAPPYMAMA102 3/11/2013 4:15AM

    I know afib/aflutter is hard to deal with, especially when you are limbo between diagnosis and seemingly appropriate treatment! But you are doing great, and excercise is one way to solve any issue!

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NADINEL 3/10/2013 7:37PM

    I am glad you got out and got fresh air. Its mentally good for you, too. You will learn to get the Coumadin thing under control. It will (almost) become second nature.
Keep pursuing your dreams. I have faith in YOU!

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REDSHOES2011 3/10/2013 1:17PM

    Hello D,
Hang in there, I have clients whom get their first pacemaker well into their 90's and oh my guess the energy that returns. You gotta keep doing the little things that keep the wiring and plumbing thumping..

Comment edited on: 3/10/2013 1:19:10 PM

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L*I*T*A* 3/10/2013 12:44PM

    all the best to you......
you can di this..........
believe you can and you will........
blessings and hugs..............lita

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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YOGATIME 3/9/2013 7:16PM

    Stay positive. Illnesses and conditions tend to make us remember we are not in the drivers seat completely. But, I'm guessing you are ready to start driving for a while. Be cautious but persistent! -Namaste my friend!

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WATERMELLEN 3/9/2013 6:53PM

    Nothing like some nature-bathing and crankin' the tunes to help when life is feeling a bit . . . out of control.

You've got more info which helps but it's not entirely the news you were hoping for. Waiting and watching: never fun, not at all. We want to "do" something, right now preferably, and deal with it and get it over and move on and . . . . yeah.

And it's tough not to be able to line up the biking.

Thinking of you, Don: wishing you well.

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MYLADY4 3/9/2013 12:34PM

    Wow, you would have thought that one would have to get worse to get something to make them feel better.

You have the right to be in the blahs for a bit but glad that your positive attitude has prevailed.

Good luck

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DAISYBELL6 3/9/2013 11:27AM

    My thoughts are with you as you learn to deal with your condition I have full confidence that you will work it out and find a new fitness regimen. emoticon

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GREENGENES 3/9/2013 10:00AM

    That sure is a lot to deal with and not having a clear cut answer can be so frustrating. Glad to hear you are cleared to get back at it and found the activation energy to get started. Keep it going!

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CHERYL_ANNE 3/9/2013 9:10AM

    Hi there!

I wanted to share that my Mom has been living **well** with A-fib (an irregular irregular rhythm as opposed to your AFL regular "sawtooth" rhythm) since the mid 90's.

It was first converted by meds and then we moved forward to cardioversion. Two years ago was the first time cardioversion didn't take and she began taking Pradaxa (anticoagulant) to help control it along with other heart meds (beta blocker).

She is very active (for someone who is in her late 70's!) with her AquaRitis classes and Tai Chi (and the rest of her busy schedule).

As you have discovered, this doesn't mean the end of your active life as you know it, just that you may have to reconfigure what and how much you're physically capable of and how you go about achieving that level.

I encourage you to pay attention to what your body tells you as that will be your best indicator.

I wish you continued success on your journey.


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PATRICIAAK 3/9/2013 12:18AM

    Take it a day at a time - remember to pace yourself.

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GETSTRONGRRR 3/9/2013 12:10AM

    Ouch, that's a lot to digest....at least knowing some of what ails is better than not knowing anything. Yeah, you may never know it all, but go with the best advice you've got.

Ease into it and build yourself back up!

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ALASKABRED 3/9/2013 12:02AM

    Good luck to you! emoticon

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Not Out Of The Woods...

Monday, February 18, 2013

Well, I have certainly fared better than I feared and am back home, but there are some "kickers" I didn't know when I wrote my last blog which have been hard to deal with:

Having to give myself belly injections of (forget what it's called) to prevent clots for the next 10 days. Me? Give myself injections? The guy who finally screwed up enough courage to go donate blood? Well...did it, will keep doing it. How ironic that getting up the courage for a single needle stick to donate blood should lead to this!

Worse yet: going on Coumadin for the next three months while we see if I can avoid converting back into this weirdo atrial flutter. If I get through that time frame okay the Coumadin can stop.

Okay, with the Coumadin comes the Vitamin K restriction...bye bye leafy greens, broccoli and a lot of my favorite staples which have helped me to avoid higher calorie options!

Oh and I'm to ease up on workouts. No real definition of what that involves. The nurse suggested nothing much more than walking for the next several weeks to begin with.

And with the Coumadin I am going to have to be EXTREMELY careful about lumps, bumps, scrapes and cuts. Well this ol' klutz is ALWAYS getting those things! How does a body live one's life fearful of the slightest bump...? How do I get on a bike and zip down hills at 35 mph like I usually do just commuting to work? Cross that off my list...

So perhaps I'm not the enfeebled, doddering old coot with the pacemaker (oh, and pacemaker remains a possibility lurking in the dark should I convert back to the atrial flutter) that I had feared, but I'm going to have to slow WAY down which is going to have to mean EXTREME caution on the food end of things...my weakest link is going to be tested!

Some folks have shared positive pacemaker stories, which I appreciate, being totally new to the concept which may yet be visited on me at a later date.

I want to entomb myself into a protective bubble for the next three months until I'm off the Coumadin. I am so paranoid about bleeding out due to a reckless move! No cycling outdoors for me until this is cleared. I will return to the spin bike as my cardiologist allows. But only walking for now.

Ugh...where did that new inspiration and resolve evaporate to?!?

This is going to be one helluva test!

Wish me luck and a lot of fortitude!

A thought I've had which I'm hoping I can turn into action is to explore yoga as a quieter, safer option for workouts. We'll see what I can do with that notion.

The other is to rededicate myself to getting to swing dance more faithfully each week, even if it IS on the other side of the county and gas is running at top dollar...!

Taking tomorrow off to get more settled into my routine, hook up with the Coumadin blood draw so they can properly adjust my dose.

Thank you, THANK YOU everybody for your SUPER support!

Going to do my best to make the most of this and grow through this experience!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SASSYCHRIS1952 3/1/2013 7:51PM

    Would you be able to do strength training a few times a week (carefully)?
Or stretch bands maybe? emoticon emoticon
You are in thought and prayer emoticon emoticon

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BARBARA_BOO 2/28/2013 10:07AM

    Great to hear from you, DON.

I sincerely wish you luck and fortitude with your helluva test. My money is on you. Your good sense and "good heart" will get you through this.

I am wearing my Fitbit and walking, while I pack up our belongings that are not pretty, in preparation for our move to TN. We will live in our house while it is being shown to potential buyers, so the realtor wants only the pretty things to be seen. LOL!

My dancing is on hold, while I serve as expediter for repair work to be done before we list, probably in about 4 more weeks. The work never seems to end, and I am tired. Plus, I managed to recover from walking pneumonia, in the midst of all of this fun stuff.

Today is the DH's final day at work. He's probably going to be an emotional mess, since he has worked with these people for so long. I'm taking things easy today, to prepare for his retirement party.

I'll be in touch, to cheer for your perseverance and patience during your current challenge.

I may be a candidate fo4 a pig valve one day, and I'm trying to pace myself and outive the need for one.

We shall overcome.

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WATERMELLEN 2/20/2013 8:54PM

    Wow! This is a very difficult situation and it's typically Don to be facing all kinds of restrictions with humour and resolve and . . . candour too. Tough tough tough.

Atrial fibrillation . . . possible pacemaker . . . restrictions on your kind of exercise . . . restrictions on your fave leafy greens: that's a lot. Hunker down, stay safe, try yoga, maybe pilates, maybe some weight training? Good ol' stationary bike?

Not fun, not fun, not fun. Only: better than the alternatives.

All best, Don. I'll be sending healing thoughts your way.

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JLITT62 2/19/2013 2:19PM

    None of it will be easy - but you CAN do it. You can do anything you set your mind to.

Yoga is AWESOME.

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BILL60 2/19/2013 8:12AM

    Don, you're gonna talk about this in about a year and laugh at sticking yourself in the tummy with injections. BTW, can you knock out some push-ups??

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L*I*T*A* 2/18/2013 10:52PM

    so sorry to hear about all these issues.......
what awesome luck to have this found and treated so quickly!!!
my dh had a large clot in his thigh........
he was on meds for almost a year...
as he stabilized the frequency of blood work slowed and the meds stayed on target more often.....so soon you will be able to get back to your past norms...
take care you can do this......just believe you can and you will...
praying all continues to go well for you....
blessings and hugs.............lita

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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PATRICIAAK 2/18/2013 8:40PM

    Would your doctor let you do aquatic exercises?

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_LINDA 2/18/2013 7:19PM

    Hi Don, thanks for the goodie! Got to say, you have nasty Dr.'s making you inject. I was on blood thinners a few times after bone surgery to prevent clots and it was always pills because it was rat poison (also known as warfarin). No one gets paper cuts like I do, and while they took a long time to heal, never bled all that much. The other one (coumadin is no different really then the rat stuff). I have to get gut injections weekly of my humira, but got out of doing it myself because my hands and fingers are shot with only two usable fingers (and the thumb dislocated).
So you like dance -ever thought of Zumba (I am such an addict), maybe its closer- they do all kinds of dance moves mixed in with the fitness (but you don't have to do any of the high impact stuff which isn't all that much) I have to admit I will never be able to tango my feet simply do not compute that :P I did like the swing stuff though, that was more straightforward.
You will have to do a google search -fruits and veggies without Vit K (that is one thing I was never told to avoid -they must have you on a high dose or something) Good luck with it -who knows, maybe you will find a new fruit or veggie you really like..
I always hated having exercise layoffs from my favorites..hope you find you enjoy trying the yoga and don't forget pilates -is a bit more challenging- and you gents should have to work your core too and see how it feels ;)
All the best!

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DAYHIKER 2/18/2013 6:43PM

    Good night nurse! What a shock! We've been out in the southwest with spotty signals so I missed your original blog and had to catch up. I'm sure glad things worked out to catch this before it was too late! Best wishes for handling it with your usual success!! emoticon

Cindy in New Mexico (today)

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DEBRA0818 2/18/2013 6:28PM

    Reports of your escape were a little overstated, I guess, but I know you can make these changes (though I know you exercise pretty hard). My husband is on a blood thinner and cuts himself every weekend (he's a big DIY guy). The cuts take longer to clot, but they do clot. So, be careful, but not too paranoid. All will be well.


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_VALEO_ 2/18/2013 3:15PM

    Sorry to hear about what you've been going through lately, but discovering it when donating blood may have saved your life.
Cant' someone or a nurse come home for your injections?

I am very confident that you will find a new routine, and everything will be just fine.


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LIZZYP609 2/18/2013 2:30PM

    Don, I missed the original blog so I had to go back and catch up. Wow!
Keep up the positive attitude. It is ok to be scared! You will get through this like a champ! I'll be throwing a word up to the heavens for you! emoticon

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MINILOVER1 2/18/2013 1:38PM

    Sorry to hear the rough time you are going through and my prayers and thoughts are with you. As I read your posts, I believe that you are a very determined man who will not let this or anything stop you from living the life you want to. This is just a small set back for now. Keep your spirits up and no negative thinking. Remember we are all here for you. You are not alone. emoticon

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RACEWELLWON 2/18/2013 12:56PM

    Don , I am so sorry that you are going through such a tough experience. You have good concerns about coumadin, understandable that you need to reorganize your workout habits and really pay attention to your nutrients. Both of my parents are on coumadin, it is a lifestyle change , one that both my husband and I know well as he is up for Heart Transplant. You do this ! You have come this far and I certain that you will find the correct fit for you. Please take care of yourself - Karen emoticon

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SKIRNIR 2/18/2013 12:54PM

    Wowsers what a story. Just read this post and the previous one and am a bit surprised. That is one low heart rate. Glad it is back to normal, but yes, coumadin can be a real pain. My husband's brother I think is on it for awhile now as after knee surgery he had a blood clot in his leg. Yeah, the cutting back on leafy veggies and stuff is annoying. Hope everything works out for you. Quite annoying I am sure this experience is. Oh, and when it comes to pace makers, they really are a modern miracle and you can live a very normal life with one. Running, exercising, etc.

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NADINEL 2/18/2013 12:30PM

    Don, I have been on Coumadin since 2005 (pulmonary emboli, ambulance trip, 6 days in hospital - first 3 I don't remember). I will be on it for life.
I saw where you said give up leafy greens. I was told no. I was told figure out exactly how much I can have and do it daily...1/2 cup broccoli, 8 brussel sprouts, 2 cups romaine (one at a time not all together) and consistently eat them. You must measure. (I have to measure foods anyway for food intake so no biggie). There are lots of other vegetables you can have that won't mess you up so much. Tomatoes, Carrots, cauliflower, green beans for starters.
I was told there is Vitamin K in everything. Even water. If you are consistent, the nurse or doctor you report to for the INR testing can raise or lower your dose. Stay consistent. Don't let this freak ya out. You can do this.
I had to give myself belly shots before I had my cancer surgery last spring. and in July 2005 for another surgical procedure. Not fun, but do-able. Hey, that's awesome you can give yourself shots. You will be a pro after 10 days.
I am glad there is a possibility of you getting off after 3 months.
DON'T forget a dose. That's the hardest for me. I take it at the same time every day (after work) and I put one week at a time in a pill bottle so its easier to count and make sure I took it. The rest are locked in the cabinet so my grandkids don't get them.
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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Ain't Wastin' Time No More!

Friday, February 15, 2013

It all began last Friday with my decision that I've been a wuss long enough about needles and it was time for me to get over it and donate blood at our employer's blood drive.

Well...? I flunked! Couldn't donate blood! Why? My pulse was only 36 and they didn't want me passing out on them. They didn't tell me to see a doc or anything they just said I'd be eligible to donate blood in two days if my heart rate was normal.

Being a typical guy I ignored my son's advice (he's a Physician Asst.) to get in and see my Primary Care doc and just went on my merry way for the next several days, shoveling snow, spinning class, elliptical / treadmill / weight workouts. But I wasn't TOTALLY stupid: I checked on my heart rate at various times and found that despite an HR that climbed right up to my usual workout rates between 120-140 when I sat still for a little the rates dropped right down to the high 30s, low 40s.

So this past Weds. I decided I'd better see my PCP and he got WAY nervous, insisted I go to the ER & THEY got nervous & admitted me with an atrial flutter.

Its the strangest thing. I'm nearly asymptomatic other than some fatigue after exertion. So it feels pretty weird sitting here in the hospital. Heart still pops right up to 130-140 when working out but probably won't be doing any of that for a while.

I'm on a holding pattern as they have been hoping that my heart rate will pick up a bit since stopping my meds which have a heart rate lowering effect. They want to perform a TEE (trans-esophageal echocardiogram) to see if there are any clots around the heart. If there aren't they will then shock the heart, hoping to convert it to a normal rhythm. If there are clots the waiting game continues.

I spent the day yesterday pacing the halls killing time. Heart rate pops right up there but then drops down. Overnight I hit a new low of 28, but the RN said I was just sleeping fine. While pacing it was kinda cool to see more folks filtering out into the halls each time I looped around the floor. So many patients and visitors figuring out maybe there's a better choice than to be vegging out in front of the TV or staring out the window!

With a heart rate so low they couldn't release me from the hospital. But the other problem is with a heart rate so low it can be risky to shock the heart as although the intent is to bump the heart into a normal rhythm there is also a risk that a shock could bump it into a LOWER rate.

And there wasn't much lower for my heart to go.

So while they were planning to shock me today it was still possible that it would be another day of thumb-twiddling and hall pacing.

While most atrial flutters result in a rapid heart rate, some like me kick into a slow heart rate. Staff all the time do a double take when they see me bopping along pacing the halls with a heart rate that would send most folks passing out on the floor.

The biggest fear that I terrorized myself with overnight until I spoke with the doc was: what if the shock didn't convert my cardiac rhythm to normal? The next step would be a cardiac ablasion and pacemaker. Knowing nothing about pacemakers I envisioned myself transforming into an enfeebled old coot and knew I wouldn't stand for such a life! Needless to say I slept very little that night. The doc later reassured me that I could still lead just as active a lifestyle with a pacemaker as I wished.

Today I waited and waited and it appeared everything was on track for me to get shocked. Nervous as my heart rate was still slow...but we did it and...

SHOCK ME BABY! I'm back to the world of normal heart rhythms!

Go little heartbeat GO!

I got plans for YOU!

I am so freakin' relieved!

I'm taking it as a message from Someone: You want your life back? You got it! Now make the most of it!


What a HUGE ZEN THUNDERBOLT to: make absolutely the MOST of my life and whittle my compromises and accommodations down to the bare minimum.

Another message I'm taking away from this:

the pay-off of good intentions (wanting to donate blood) resulting in getting the help I needed to not drop dead in the middle of a spinning class! I believe this condition I have was the same one that took out Jim Fixx, the famous runner.

So hey everyone: Life is too short & getting shorter all the time.

If you have some words and actions of love and caring for yourself or others, just DO IT! Don't just daydream about wonderful things happening in your life, start taking steps to MAKE IT HAPPEN!

The clock is always ticking. It's experiences such as mine which pulls that awareness of the passing of time to the front and center of the stage of life!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GLADGAD 2/18/2013 4:14PM

    Don - I have been AWOL from Spark for awhile due to my work and workout schedule, but I do pop in from time to time to see what my favorite Sparkers have been up to. I know I don't post often, but I do read most of what you post, as it's always relavant and good information.

I am sorry you have been going throught this, along with the medication and waiting. However, you are only an old coot if you want to be an old coot, so I don't think you have to worry there. I know you've heard pacemaker stories, but we had a guy playing underwater hockey who was in his 70s with a pacemaker. He stopped playing due to issues other than his heart.

I do like your last couple of paragraphs of this blog. For the past few months I have decided what I want to do for a living (it's taken me 52 years to figure that out!), and I am actively making plans and working towards that goal. You're right. Life is too short, and it's too short to not enjoy what you're doing.

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_LINDA 2/18/2013 3:31PM

    Wow! Watch a catch! Doing good to discover an undiagnosed problem! How very scary to be freaking out something serious is wrong with your heart! You handled it like a trooper!! So glad the shock worked!! Keeping fingers crossed that this will hold for you with no further action needed!!

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HIPPICHICK1 2/18/2013 10:35AM

    HOLY DOODLE DON!! Glad you are still with us and doing alright after that scare. I have a pretty low resting HR too and often wonder about my heart palpitations. I have had 3 stress tests in the past 3 years and the Dr's can't figure out why I'm even getting a stress test. Hmmmmm...now you have me wondering.
*goes off to watch YouTube link*

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JLITT62 2/17/2013 9:50AM

    Wow! I don't even know what to say, other thani'm glad it worked.

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2BMYOWN 2/16/2013 9:22PM

    I am so happy.....been sitting here worrying about you all day. LOL Yes, it is a wake up call, Don, and I for one am ecstatic that's all it was. Nothing like riding that thin edge to make you wake up and realize what is important, what isn't, and prioritize your life and most everything else. You go, dude. I am glad you are alright!

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KA_JUN 2/16/2013 3:30PM

    Yeah man, truth! Glad to hear that they're sorting out your ticker. I wonder how shocking it returned it to the "normal" rate, from a biomechanical standpoint.

We can't take our health/fitness, or even that we'll be here for granted. Make it happen and make it count, indeed!

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PATRICIAAK 2/16/2013 2:27PM

    Glad things are looking up now. Now it's keep tabs on the heart rate.

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VEEJAY3 2/16/2013 1:31PM

    I think my OWN heart slowed and nearly stopped, reading this and worrying for you. That's an INCREDIBLY low and dangerous HR! I mean -- if you were maybe an Olympic cyclist who'd just finished the Tour de France, we might overlook it ... emoticon

I'm so glad you took yourself seriously and went in to take care of it. I'd imagine the fear at 'being shocked' was great, and I admire the silver-lining lesson you took away from it all. Great motivation for YOU, and thanks for sharing it with US.

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L*I*T*A* 2/16/2013 12:13PM

    wow............what an unexpected experience!!!
so great to hear it all turned out well........
what a life changing altering time!!!
take care and all the best with your recovery..
blessings and hugs.......lita

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SKINNIESOMEDAY 2/16/2013 12:06PM

    Wow what a surprising blog and I am so glad you are alright. Having your rythm out of whack should have made you feel bad so just IMAGINE how good you are going to feel now ??? LOL..... I am sure they will monitor you and watch it closely.

great job on keeping an eye on yourself...... believe me when I say that we must be advocates for our own health !


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MYLADY4 2/16/2013 11:57AM

    Wow, so glad that you are ok and how scary to be worried about a low heart rate. emoticon

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FERRETLOVER1 2/16/2013 8:54AM

    What a scary thing for you to go thru, Don. Amazing what it can take to make you realize how precious life really is. I am SO, SO, SO glad that you are doing great - enjoy that precious gift of life to it's fullest, my friend!

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DAISYBELL6 2/16/2013 8:52AM

    Thank goodness it all worked out! Now, on to bigger and better things...

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BILL60 2/16/2013 7:45AM

    What a great story. Many lessons are in that wonderful story. Thank you for sharing.

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DEBRA0818 2/16/2013 7:26AM

    I never dreamed when I clicked on your post to be confronted with such a dramatic series of events; thank God everything turned out well and you are released to go out into the world with a good reminder to love and be loved. I had a similar experience when I was 40: tried to give blood and my BP was sky high (normal up to that point). I have had it under control ever since with a wonderful medication that creates no side effects and regular exercise, but I relate (not in quite such a dramatic fashion) to the gratitude that my small act of generosity helped to save my life.

There is DEFINITELY a lesson in there somewhere.


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MINILOVER1 2/16/2013 4:58AM

    Glad to hear that the shock worked and you are fine.

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MEGA_MILES 2/16/2013 1:10AM

    WOW Don! I never expected that. Glad you are better!!!!

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YOGATIME 2/15/2013 11:54PM

    I am so glad it worked and you are BACK! It probably is a good thing you were are healthy as you were when this problem started! You are right take each day as a gift!! Bless You! Namaste

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GETSTRONGRRR 2/15/2013 11:30PM

    WOW dude, what a great story.....and what great timing!

Good sound advice....maybe we all need a little electro-shock now and then!

Good luck & keep us posted!

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LUVLYLORELEI 2/15/2013 10:50PM

    I'm glad the shock worked. Take care of yourself! Wow, that really does sound like it was scary! I can't imagine going through that, I don't think I would sleep either waiting for the outcome.

Wonderful blog with an important life message. Glad you're okay.


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MAJONES1225 2/15/2013 10:23PM

    I agree

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Never Not Too Late

Friday, February 08, 2013

WAY long time no blog!

And as usual, no news is rarely good news when it comes to me. Been back-pedaling badly on the food / tracking front. The lose/regain/lose/regain cycle isn't always very predictable. Thoughts like "oh, I've lost this much weight before, I'm up for this challenge!" runs into elusive walls and barriers that weren't there before and I find out that: No, it ain't necessarily SO that I can lose weight as I have in the past...! But I keep doing my best to put one foot ahead of the other and keep a positive attitude. One song that has helped, even tho it is a breakup song, I like to play fast & loose with lyrics and often spin them to meet my needs. So Never Not Too Late, for me morphs into "hey, it's Never Not Too Late to keep working toward pulling my act together!"

You can't catch this song at YouTube, but you can play it at Matt Woods' My Space:


Working out continues to be my strong suit and is well locked-in.

Here's another song that has helped me to keep on keeping on: Mick Overman & The Maniacs - When You Are Guided By Your Heart (gotta keep living our lives with all the heart we can!)


This is a live version probably in somebody's home studio. The album version is better, but it is kind of fun to see them hamming it up.

Another upbeat tune I've enjoyed is "Amsterdam" by Box Set on their album "Thread"...you can hear a sample @ Amazon (another track that I cannot find on YouTube other than a rough live track: youtu.be/cEM0G2QKKaA Gotta get myself to Amsterdam someday...SUCH a cyclocentric city and lifestyle!

I owe these musical discoveries to Pandora and my radio station, Jazz - Folk - World Music:


I've enjoyed a few workout challenges here & there. The other day I just finished working up a good sweat on the elliptical for a half hour. I was going to head to the Spinning room for another half hour of my own workout as the Spinning bikes ride so much more like my road bike than the regular stationary bikes. But OOPS! I began seeing some of the others who frequent the Spinning class with me and I remembered: Oh yes...tonight's the ADVANCED Spinning class I usually can't take due to a conflict which I happened to not have on this night.

What the heck, so what I'm already 1/2 whupped from the elliptical workout? :-) Whew...! Advanced Spinning has a lot more time up outta the saddle, with more resistance and very little recovery time.

Yesterday I read GREENGENES blog in which he ever-so-ho-hum mentions spending 70 minutes on his treadmill, reminding me of my record 80 mins. once upon a time. With all my time at the fitness center my treadmill has been gathering a bit o' dust. Tonight with the snow coming I didn't want to stay out at the fitness center and risk a slippery ride home so I decided I would head up to my SparkHaven workout room, kick out the jams on my quad-speaker stereo set up and fire up ye olde treadmill and see how it goes. I did 45 mins. on it last weekend. Was able to toss 60 mins. in the hopper tonight and felt pretty good. We have our Binghamton Bridge Run in May and I'll be doing it again for the 3rd year in a row. I am not a runner (11 min. mile is as good as it gets, which is fine by me) and it doesn't come easily, but I figure it's good to mix it up with some other workouts sometimes. So I make a commitment to doing this one 5K each year.

In other ways I keep myself hopping. Managed to catch up with others at a local anti-fracking rally recently and I'm planning to head to Wash. DC for the Forward on Climate rally with Sierra Club & Co on Feb 17th. They were kind enough to arrange for a bus from our area down to DC...we'll be leaving at 5 am returning at 10:30 pm...long day! Lotsa walking & new sites! Haven't been out & about in DC since I was a kid!

This Sunday the concert event of the YEAR awaits! Luciana Souza and Romero Lubambo are playing their Brasilian Duets at our local SUNY Binghamton University! This music is heavenly! These artists represent two of the best of Brasil and the bossa nova grooves are gonna put me on cloud 9 for days if not weeks! YouTube either or both of these artists to see how superb and heartfelt their performances are! I'll be catching it with an old friend who joined me back in 2007 when Romero Lubambo was in our area with his Trio Da Paz (Trio Of Peace).

One of my favorite songs sung by Luciana is with another great Brasilian guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves, Morrer De Amor (To Die Of Love):


Her final note just pierces my heart with its beauty!

Rambling on, wrapping up with just a note of gratitude: Not that New England really WANTS all the snow they've got coming their way, but my cross country skis are getting QUITE restless & itchy tonight, nipping at my heels, hoping New England didn't snatch ALL the snowfall for themselves and that there will be enough to allow us to get out at least ONCE more this year tomorrow! :-)


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

-DAVE- 2/11/2013 1:04PM

    Love your music references. A great guitarist is Ottmar Liebert - You've probably heard of him though...

Great work - keep up the faith!


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GETSTRONGRRR 2/10/2013 9:23PM

    Very cool on the varied workouts!

I've grown so accustomed to my spin bike workouts that I'm going to re-fit my road bike based on how I've arranged my ride!

Good luck....keep at it!

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IMSMILEY88 2/10/2013 6:55PM

    Glad to hear an update and that you are keeping at it! An 'advanced' spin class sounds TOUGH, but after yesterday's ride, spending time OUT of the saddle sounds like a good thing! The only thing that's hurting today is my seat! emoticon

I also love your challenge about your maximum number of mins you've spent on a treadmill... a great goal to try to break! And, running a 5K each year!

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SASSYCHRIS1952 2/9/2013 2:24PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

I like the music links you posted, thanks for sharing! emoticon
I enjoy your blogs emoticon

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L*I*T*A* 2/9/2013 11:17AM


emoticon emoticon emoticon

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JLITT62 2/9/2013 8:32AM

    I AM a runner, but 11 mm are STILL fast for me . . . if you run, you're a runner. But I know it's not your fav.

Nice to hear you again. We miss you!

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BILL60 2/9/2013 6:36AM

    Good look on your skiing.

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WOLFKITTY 2/9/2013 2:26AM

    Sounds really active! That's great. I understand those thoughts, Don.. Hang in there, my friend!


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STRIVERONE 2/8/2013 11:50PM

What you lack in frequency, you make up in volume. Oh! There's a double entendre in there.

Anyway Judith and I will keep an eye peeled for you Sunday. Thanks again for the heads up in the Binghamton Area Losers group.

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2BMYOWN 2/8/2013 11:33PM

    Good to 'see' ya, sparky bud. Has been awhile, hasn't it? On the up side, you've inspired me....my daughter works with a fella who belongs to a biking club here in our community, so we are both going to begin taking the steps (and purchasing the equipment) to become members. It can only be a good thing. However, any suggestions you can pass along to a newbie re: best/necessary equipment, etc. would be vastly appreciated. Hope you and yours have a most excellent weekend.

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PATRICIAAK 2/8/2013 11:23PM

    Glad you're back to blogging.
One step backward, two steps forward.

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