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Friday, July 29, 2011

A whole new life style

No, I'm not turning gay! Just changing the way I eat and exercise. Went online and found out what I could about Dr. Ornish's heart healing diet. In a nutshell no animal products except egg whites and fat free milk and exercise 30 minutes a day. The diet's slogan is "Eat More Weigh Less"

Not a decision I'm taking lightly or without risks. Immediate goal is to drop about 40 pounds and about the same amount of cholesterol. Thirty five years of the "Good Life" has taken it's toll. May 28th, 1976 when I got married I weighed 128 pounds. A little over 2 pounds a year has made this man fat. Now I'm hoping to drop 3 pounds a week by eating right and exercising daily.

Ordered several of Dr. Ornish's books and found a bunch of vegetarian recipes that look pretty tasty. It's definitely going to be a challenge though.

As soon as the gaping wound in my groin heals, the walking will start.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Heart Catheterization

Met with Dr. Dorosti at the Cleveland Clinic. A very experienced doctor from Iran who graduated from medical school in Tehran in 1967 but performed his internship at the Jewish Hospital Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY.

Dr. Dorosti reviewed my chart and family history and concurred that a cath was in order. He explained what was going on and what the risks of the procedure were and we decided to go forward with the test the next day.

The next day we went back to the Cleveland Clinic and got prepped for the test and when I was moved to the cath department I had two other patients before me so I had to wait about two hours.

Finally the time arrives and as I'm lying on the table in the procedure room with all of this high tech equipment all around me, I have my first real thoughts of my mortality. Although the percentages are very small, about 1 in 1,000 of these procedures are not survived. When the procedure started, I was prepared to die but not afraid to. I had lived a good life, raised two of the best kids a father could ever ask for. I am fully awake through the procedure watching the monitors and seeing the probe enter different sections of the heart. I was even able to carry on a conversation with the doctor. It was almost like I was in the movie "Fantastic Voyage" from the mid 60's when A diplomat is nearly assassinated. In order to save him, a submarine is shrunken to microscopic size and injected into his blood stream with a small crew.

The test confirms a blockage of 60-70% in my left main coronary artery, but much less blockage in the other arteries. The blockage was not in an area conducive to placing a stint, so the test was ended.

The Options: After reviewing the film of the procedure, the doctor came to talk with us and gave us 3 options. First option was to have a couple of stints placed in the artery with the blockage, but it was complicated by a branch off. One stint would be placed above the branch and a 2nd below. The procedure could be done, but there was a chance the two stints could grow together and cause a total blockage.

Option 2 was to have a bypass procedure where the would take a mammary artery and sew it to the heart above and below the blockage, thus bypassing it.

Option 3 was to use medication to lower the risks of heart atack.

The Doctor felt the the bypass surgery was my best option, but that I should think it over and decide. My current condition was not life threatening at the moment, so I had a little time. On the way home from the hospital I called one of my baseball teammates who is a doctor and told him what they found. He suggested a consider a fourth option which involves a rather significant life style change of diet and exorcise, specifically a program by Dr. Dean Ornish, a cardiologist who developed a diet program that has been clinically proven to reverse heart disease.

Monday, July 18, 2011

CTA Results

Doctor Patel's office calls and the doctor wants to see me today. The results are back and he has some concerns. Analysis of the CTA scan are back and there is evidence of some significant blockage. Doc now wants me to have a heart catheterization to determine the extent and location of any blockage. When he asks if I had a preference of where I wanted to have it done, I said "The Cleveland Clinic" before he could even finish the sentence. After all we have perhaps the most renowned heart hospital in the world in our back yard, why not take advantage of it.

The Illusive CTA Scan

Based on the results of my stress test, the doctor wanted me to have a CTA scan of the heart. It gives a much better picture of the blood flow through the heart. I showed up for the test knowing that there wasn't anything wrong, after all a couple weeks earlier I was out running with my grand daughter who was preparing to go out for the junior high cross country team. We kept a decent pace and I was out of breath when we finished, but no chest pains and I recovered after a few minutes.

The test requires that they give you a drug to lower your heart rate below 60 then inject a radioactive material and take a scan of your heart. My heart rate before the test was 62. The nurse was confident that I would only need a single dose and we'd be on our way. She had had a little trouble finding a good vein for the large needle required for the test, but finally felt we had a good one and gave me the first dosage. My heart rate dropped, but did not stay below 60 so she injected another dosage. That was my first clue that things weren't going well. Finally after a third dose, I was declared ready. They wheel me into the nuclear medicine department for the CTA scan and position me in the scanner.

A minute into the test my arm starts to ache and they immediately stop the test. The technician noticed that my left bicep had a strong resemblance to Arnold's in his prime. I had an "infiltration" or a blowout of the vein at the injection site. We would have to redo the test next week.

Test 2: I show up for the test and am in the waiting room and the technician comes out to tell me that the CTA machine was broke and that I'd have to reschedule because the part had to be ordered.

Test 3: Again I show up for the test and guess what! Yep, the machine is broke again, but the repair man was there fixing it and I could wait or reschedule. I decided to wait. Finally got the test complete after 3 failed attempts to find a suitable vein.