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Deep In The Valley of "meh"

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Apologies for dropping out of the Spark-iverse as I have, but this has been a month of torture. I haven't had anything of value to say to anyone. Although I have much that I could rant endlessly about, I haven't had the energy to do that NOR could I see the benefit in passing along all of my bottom-feeding, soul-rending, deeply dark and cruel bashing of myself and the whole wide world.

I have been very, very hard on myself. And made it harder yet by shutting out the world, aside from a few close friends, family and therapist.

Let me try not to get too lost in the details:

May 19th: Remember that slam-dunk appt. I was going to have with my electrophysiologist? It was anything BUT! A major upending in my understanding of my cardiac condition occurred: previously I believed that my slow heart rate was a subset of my atrial flutter. Since my pacemaker was controlling my heart rate, my flutter was under control too, right?

Wrong, wrong, wrong...! These are two separate conditions. Therefore controlling my heart rate offers no assurances that my atrial flutter is controlled. The cardiac ablation was done to control the flutter, but it offers no guarantees that the flutter may return at a later date.

How did I get this wrong? As my therapist said: we sometimes "hear" things the way that we want to...I had to have a reliable solution to the flutter and a reliable method for knowing if it returns.

How will I know if the flutter returns? I already know that I've been pretty oblivious to sensing trouble with my heart. I previously thought checking my heart rate was a means of checking the flutter. Not so. The only way to reliably check for the flutter will be routine EKG's or through the pacemaker readings which I'll be doing every few months.

Therefore, with the potential return of the flutter comes the potential risks of the pooling of blood and the risks of clotting.

Hello anti-coagulants: there is no way to discontinue them without assuming some risk of throwing a clot due to an unexpected return of the flutter.

Goodbye cycling. My world just came to an end. All the dreams & schemes of being able to savor the utmost feelings of freedom and joy by hitting the open roads on my bike and 30# of necessities...they just went up in smoke. I felt like someone just clanged an immense, impenetrable door locking me into what felt like the jail cell my life had become.

I got very ugly & Grinch-like, detesting and cursing sunny, blue skies. Remembering commutes through chilly morning fogs and cursing those too. Seeing cyclists everywhere and my heart sinking in despair. I didn't like myself very much, realizing at the same time while having such nasty impulses that in the scheme of things I truly am very fortunate and could have far more difficult health challenges to face and I know many of you out there in the Spark Community have been tremendously inspirational in overcoming such hurdles. So I beat myself up for having such thoughts!

Fortunately BEFORE I attained this more accurate and disturbing understanding of my condition I was able to join in with my bike club's annual Great Finger Lakes Bicycle Tour...not riding, but offering SAG (Support And Gear) services and joining in with roaring campfires, playing my guitar and on the 2nd night having fun joining a drumming circle...no drum handy so I beat my guitar like a drum...lol! I was able to enjoy myself somewhat as I didn't yet have the knowledge that my flutter could return and my need for anti-coagulant may be lifelong.

I also was able to join with DS in a road trip for a long weekend out to MI to spend with parents and other family members.

To better understand the depths to which I've sunk let me share also a very crazy-making symptom that has been simultaneously plaguing me: fatigue! Inexplicable, inexorable, inescapable...I have been passing on most of my workouts these days...yielding to the "meh" that has been tugging away at my soul. I once pushed myself into a spinning class...it was like "Zombie" Spin....no shortness of breath, no muscle soreness, just felt like I was barely able to turn the wheels in the overwhelming undertow of my life.

So let's throw a couple of serious health problems of other family members into the mix also shall we?

Oh, and how about a refrigerator that gives up the ghost resulting in tossing out hundreds of dollars of food and icing down in coolers the little bit we were able to salvage? The new one arrives next Monday...

I followed up with my electrophysiologist again to talk about my fatigue and he could not see anything un-toward with both my EKG and echocardiogram. The only thing he could offer was that perhaps setting my heart rate at 60 was too low...how about juicing up my heart by bumping up the pacemaker to 70?

Sure, I'll try anything! But given my past obliviousness to my cardiac functioning I wasn't optimistic. And no, there hasn't been any improvement.

Finally today a light bulb: A while back with this heart problem I had started taking Ramipril. Recently I had been light-headed at the 10 mg. dose so it was reduced to 5 mg. But I still had a few of the 10 mg. pills left so I spaced them out to like once a week, cheapskate that I am, couldn't just throw them out.

But I noticed on my first day of the higher dose my energy REALLY tanked. So I began to wonder.... Google is my friend, right?

Whaddya know? Ramipril side effects:


---dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position

---unusual tiredness or weakness"

Reading this I realized too how scattered I have been feeling also, struggling to hold onto all the zillion bits of my life in as tight a manner as I'm accustomed to. Feeling very, very "off."

So I'm feeling some hope of being able to "experiment" with Ramipril and at least pull out of this deep trough in the not-too-distant future. I am hugely missing the ability to enjoy moving my body, to feel the usual depth of my emotions and music! I've nearly completely lost the ability to lose myself in my music!

The other dilemma awaits: do I give up cycling? Or do I allow some cycling in a limited, more cautious fashion? Just the thought of cycling and setting limits causes my heart to sink...cycling always brought a "sky-is-the-limit" feeling to me! It's time for me to explore other pursuits...perhaps yoga, perhaps jogging more, perhaps...but it takes energy to care, to push forward. Today I noticed after resting my hands in my lap how aware I was of the energy it would take to lift them out of my lap. Not that I couldn't do it, but it would be a noticeable effort. Not that I couldn't mow my lawn, but it would take a lot more time as I would be slower and more tired than ever afterward. This has also been part of the reason for my lack of blogging or joining in with other discussions here among our SparkFamily.

I'll be back: I know there is a rebound buried in me that I'll be able to excavate in due time. I'll catch up with you all then or perhaps here and there along the way...

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I'm just catching up on blog posts and didn't know you were going through this. I did miss your posts - did I get unsubbed again? At any rate, I'm sorry that this has been your life lately, but when I think of all that you've been through, I trust that you will be able to handle this as well. You will find a way to celebrate your freedom and move forward on your journey. I've been encouraged myself by reading all the rally-round posts you've received from other Sparkers. Blessings and prayers from my side of the world...Michelle
    1463 days ago
    I am so sorry to here what you have been going through from the 2 blogs. I will be praying for you and will put you on our prayer chain.

    I too have been going through a lot also so I know how you are feeling.

    God Bless my friend

    1464 days ago
  • KANOE10
    Don, My heart goes out to you. This is a very hard curveball to face. With your usual insightful analysis, you are exploring all options of health. You are showing courage by facing your health issues and by taking care of yourself. My brother loved running and had to give it up due to his knees. Now he surfs and walks. I know you will find happiness again, no matter what. Don't be hard on yourself for your very normal reactions. I think part of your tiredness may not only be that drug, but also from stress and sadness.
    I am sorry you are going through this but I know that your love of life and strength will get you through this. We are all here for you.

    1464 days ago
    I am glad to hear from you again and I know you will pull yourself out of the rut. Try not to beat yourself up to badly after all it is a bummer to face everything that you are facing. Take care
    1465 days ago
    I am so sorry you are having such a time. But also honored that you share so openly what is going on for you, how you feel about it, and your thinking about where to go from here.

    You are a friend to me and to many on these pages, and I'm sure you can see the care and love in these comments - and I trust you'll take it in....

    Heart issues and medicine for heart issues are so complex. My good friend has walked a path of checking out side effects for his cardiac meds and this has paid off immensely. You sound like you're on this road as you are more invested in your good health than anyone else is.

    All we have is today. You are a wonderful person and when I get to one of these places, one of my better moves is to start a list of things for which I am grateful.

    Lots of people here for you- Pam emoticon
    1465 days ago
  • HILLSLUG98239
    Ugh. That's just plain rotten. I cannot imagine the funk I would sink into if told I couldn't ride. I know you'll rise above it and find a way, but I empathize with the pain of this journey.
    1465 days ago
  • BILLB000
    Sorry about all of that Don. That is a lot to go through on all levels. Would it make sense to request another stress test, only instead of walking, ride a stationary bike while the monitoring is happening. You could, during the stress test ride to the intensity level, and and help determine a safe heart rate level. That is to say if your cardio thought it could be safe to try biking again.
    I am also wondering ,too if you could hook up with a few sessions in a cardiac rehab program and let them monitor you while you stationary bike and they could help you determine safety parameters over a period of a few sessions. I guess I am not ready to have you let go of your biking yet until you have exhausted all options. I know how much you love it.
    I would miss it terribly also.
    Please keep us posted.
    Be safe
    1465 days ago
    I used to love biking. I rode everywhere. I cycled to school, to work, to get groceries...my bike was my "car" in the summer. Then one day I got off my bike and my knee hurt. I couldn't put any weight on it. I hobbled into the house with my bike and wondered what the heck had happened. Nothing as far as I could tell. I tried riding again and every time I did the knee pain was worse. At that time I had no physician as there as a shortage of doctors taking patients so I did what any self-employed artist would do - nothing. I stopped riding and sold my bike. I was really sad. I missed it terribly but I have many really great memories from my bike riding years. I haven't ridden a bike since 1998 or so.
    A couple of years ago I went to the gym for an aerobics class. The teacher talked about a bike race in Quebec and wanted to celebrate that race by turning the aerobics class into a spinning class. I temporarily forgot about my knee, got on the bike and within 10 minutes I was in pain from the cycling. I stopped, stretched and left the class.
    Nearly two years ago I was ordered to STOP ALL high impact exercise because of ongoing lower back issues (compression in my discs). I was jump training and running at the time and I had to STOP it all. I got depressed. I felt broken. I wondered how in the world I was going to manage my weight if I couldn't blast 400-500 calories every time I worked out.
    Now all I do is swim (in the summer), walk and do yoga every day. And I can still manage to manage my weight, so YAY!
    The nature of life is change and the only thing we can do when change is upon us is let go...or be dragged. We have to let go of these ideas we had of how is was "supposed" to be.
    It's truly unfortunate that you feel you have to stop riding. It's sad to hear your heart is broken, but it will mend and you'll find something else that keeps you interested and happy, because you are just that kind of guy!
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1465 days ago
    Not even moderate bike riding? I can see why you've been in a funk. I wondered about this after you had the pacemaker inserted. Hope you are feeling better and less "off." Life is hard sometimes.
    1466 days ago
    What a hugely articulate and exploratory blog this is . . . I've been missing hearing from you, absolutely, and like Barb hoped it was because you were enjoying that blue sky freedom.

    Here's hoping that the Rampiril adjustment will help. And the therapist with respect to the (understandable) onslaught of depression: so true that we "hear" what we need to hear and the rest somehow floats by. The SAG service sounds as if it was somewhat satisfying; so perhaps you'll get some help from your heart guy in figuring out "how much" cycling would be OK.

    We are continually reinventing ourselves. Continually reinventing our relationships too. In the face of life exigencies. And it's tough. But no point in beating ourselves up, none at all. Especially in comparison with others who may seem to be dealing with challenges "better" but are after all dealing with different life exigencies, probably with less grace than it looks like on the outside!!

    Which you knew already. Of course.

    1466 days ago
  • BILL60
    You hang in there my friend. Hope you find the outlet you seek.
    1466 days ago
    emoticon emoticon
    1466 days ago

    Comment edited on: 6/18/2014 7:56:57 AM
    Oh, my, Don! I had been missing you but my pink cloud world imagined you out being so busy enjoying your freedom... and this! Well! Overwhelming to have your world-view upset like that!

    So, clearly you have got your determination worked back up, and for this I am grateful. I was going to say something like BARBWMS did about fatigue being a symptom of depression, which could also be part of the response to such a turn-about in your awarenss of what you're dealing with, but I see she's got it covered.

    Your name, by the way, just got added to my dedication list for Sunday's race. Hope you don't mind being on the list of those for whom I swim, bike, and run! On my shoulders, with many others... until you find *your* way.

    1466 days ago
    Don, there isn't a day that has gone by that I haven't thought of you. All of this which you shared doesn't surprise me. I knew it would take a mountain dumped on you all at once to stop you in your tracks. Same with me. But we are survivors!

    You will find a way back to the light of who you really are. RX's are taboo in my life but I don't need them either. I would continue researching what you can do for your situation and not stop until a suitable set of corrections works. That's what I'd effort about. That would be my goal. I would set aside the dream of riding a bike for perhaps supporting those who can use it on long rides. Temporarily perhaps and you'd feel better about yourself for doing it.

    Your life isn't over by far. You have too great a spirit and it simply needs to surface in different ways at this time.

    Hang in there friend. You will find your way home.
    1466 days ago
  • 123ELAINE456
    I'm so sorry to hear about all that you are going though. I know it is so discoursing. I agree with Linda and the other posts. It will take time going though this and finding answers. Take One Step At A Time. And One Day At A Time. I know Medications can have a lot of side effects. They can hit you like a ton of bricks. The side effects like you are having and a lot more. Try to work through it the best you can. Thank You for the update. I have heart problems too. Six Heart Attacks since 7/23/2013. So Hang in there. Things will get better. God Blessings Always. Have a Wonderful Week. Good Thoughts, Prayers and Hugs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Coming Your Way. Take Care.
    1466 days ago
    You have had a lot to deal with. You solved one medical problem (meds), but I hope you do not give up on cycling unless you are told by your doctor (and get a second opinion, too) about it. Everything in moderation. You need exercise to continue to be healthy. If it's just because of coumadin, I would not give up cycling. I am on coumadin for life and it IS manageable.
    Fridges are a necessary evil. Sorry about the $$ or $$$$$$.
    I am rooting for you! Take a deep breath and have a great rest of the week! emoticon
    1466 days ago
  • _LINDA
    Oh. Wow! Talk about a face plant and world class road rash!! So very sorry to hear this news Don :((( Never cycle again??? Seems too harsh!! You could as easily fall and break something jogging (I managed to do it just walking to my apartment :-P) In fact, we can be hurt in myriad of ways. Did you get it specifically from your Dr. cycling is not a good idea, and if so what else to avoid or what can you do? Any alternatives with less side effects then this Ramipril? They always seem to have lots of medicines that treat the same condition..
    Hoping there is abetter outcome than this! Thinking of you, and seeing how it is closely mirroring my our situation right now...
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1466 days ago
    Oh boy. All I can say is it is so discouraging when you understanding of things is tossed to the winds. I know you'll find your way through all of this and I hope that medication tweaks help.

    Glad you updated. Take care of you . . . I know you will.

    1466 days ago
    Don, I'm so sorry that you're going through this. The feelings you describe are a sure sign that biking isn't a good idea right now. Especially since the meds play into the problems; "Dizzy" and cyclig just aren't a good mix, on top of the other issues.

    I know what it's like to feel like you've been slammed against a proverbial brick wall. The down feeling is normal, even predictable. It's a form of mourning... even when a 'loss' may be temporary rather than lasting. But the difficult times that grab the gut and churn the mind can lead to incredible discoveries of interests and abilities lying within us. I can't stress enough: While taking care of the necessaries, ENJOY exploring new options. Optimism does wonders for the physical well-being. And saying those words is easy, while the reality is not. Finding the positive takes a lot of time and energy when you're stuck to that brick wall. So be nice to yourself, take it easy. One step at a time. Day by day. Because while it's hard to see anything but negatives sometimes, posiive possibilites EXIST... all around us. Stay alert so you can feel them.
    1466 days ago
    Hi Don,
    You are generally so upbeat, I didn't realize the severity of your problems. I hope some of these health conditions can be resolved, but if you have to make major adjustments, remember you have lots of real world and internet friends who still value your contributions. You might have to dial back your verve a bit but I'm sure there will always be a place for you at STBC. Everything doesn't need to be over 20 MPH.
    emoticon , Vin
    1466 days ago
    Yes, the intersection of biology and psychology has been HIGHLY vexing and bedeviling...!

    1466 days ago
    Wow.. what a lot to deal with.. I'm impressed with your detective work, though. The other thought that hit me, however, as I read it, is that fatigue and disinterest are major symptoms of depression... but I hope you track down the causes and find a way to cycle again; if not cycling, then something else that gives you satisfaction and energy.

    Best Wishes... I hope the trajectory is all upward now.

    1466 days ago
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