Old 06-12-19, 04:59 AM
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Tundra_Man 
The Fat Guy In The Back
 
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Location: Sioux Falls, SD
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I didn't think there would be a week seven edition to the Tundra_Man Heart Surgery newsletter, but here it is. I really figured that once I had all restrictions lifted and I returned to work that there wouldn't be much news to report. However if life has demonstrated anything, it's that a curveball may be the next pitch that comes at you so be ready.

In addition, numerous people have asked if I was going to keep writing up these weekly chronicles as they wanted to keep reading them. I suspect that, similar to politics, it's the fringe ten percent who are the most vocal. Those who quietly wish I would stop producing these weekly interruptions to their lives don't get the attention of the louder fans clamoring for more. So I guess if you want me to stop you're going to have to speak up. Beating me with a Nerf bat would also effectively convey your feelings on this matter.

Last week was my final scheduled week of being on leave from work. The AFib I had experience two Mondays ago had not returned, and I was really starting to feel good. I even went out with my son on Friday evening to the golf course. I wasn't yet able to play the whole course, but I took a few swings here and there and practiced my putting and mostly just walked along with the group as they played. Driving the ball off the tee hurt a little bit, but considering in the hospital they told me I wouldn't be swinging a golf club at all this year, I thought I was making excellent progress. By the way, I learned a mechanical heart valve will not fix a slice.

This week began with my 50th birthday. Half a century. I never meant to get old, it just happened. I figured there's no better way to celebrate your 50th birthday than to go back to work after a six week absence, right? I did have (what I thought was) my final post-surgery doctor's appointment on this day as well. Overall the appointment went fine and things were looking great. They hadn't yet gotten the results of my Holter monitor test I took last week, but said that they would call me when they did.

That same afternoon I received a phone call from the cardiologist office with the test results. As it turned out, while I was wearing the monitor my heart happened to stop for about three seconds and then restart itself. This was concerning to both them and me. Them, because hearts aren't supposed to do that and it indicates a problem. Me, because I didn't even notice it had happened and it makes me wonder how often this was happening when I wasn't wearing a monitor? Three seconds didn't seem that long until I actually counted it out. In heartbeat years (kind of like dog years, but the opposite) it's a long time for your heart not to beat.

So ultimately they wanted to do two things. First, they wanted me to stop taking one of my medications. I was fine with that, as I'm not a fan of medications and I didn't care for that particular pill anyway. The other thing they want is for me to have a pacemaker installed. I wasn't so fine with this idea.

I voiced my protest, which probably sounded not unlike a three-year-old trying to convince a parent that they should be allowed to have ice cream for dinner. The nurse asked if I would at least be willing to meet and talk to the Electrocardiology Pulmonologist (say that ten times fast) before making a firm decision either way. I'm not an unreasonable man, so I agreed. Plus they said that if I go talk to him I can have ice cream for dinner.

That appointment is set up for Wednesday afternoon. I've been doing some research on my own and want to have a discussion with the doctor on the pros and cons of having a pacemaker installed versus not. (Pro: can bypass metal detectors at the ball park. Con: may die suddenly without warning.) Right now the last thing I really feel like doing is having more surgery, but I guess I'm willing to do it if there is a compelling reason. Or if they bribe me with more ice cream.

On a different note, since my restrictions were lifted I've become even more active if that's possible. I've been able to resume riding my bicycle, and jumped right back in to commuting to work. This allowed my consecutive work commute streak to remain intact at 745 days and counting, which I'm very happy about because before the surgery (and the weeks immediately following) I had assumed I wouldn't be ready to ride my bicycle by the time I returned to work and I would have to start over. After three and a half years it was a little heartbreaking (pun somewhat intended) to think about the possibility of driving to work and setting that number back to zero. Now I don't have to, at least yet.

In addition to biking, I'm still walking. I've been getting up early before work to go out and walk at least three miles. I figure it's a good habit I've started and I might as well keep it up as long as I have the momentum. Since I was released from the hospital I've now walked 172 miles. On a side note, all this walking means I'm also due for a new pair of workout shoes as my current ones are close to end of life.

I graduated cardiac rehab classes last Friday after completing eleven sessions. A "normal" stint in the class is thirty-six sessions. The combination of me going back to work and doing so well in the class allowed them to parole me early. They even gave me a t-shirt.

Another bit of good news is I'm back to sleeping in a regular bed. Last Friday I attempted to lay down and see if it still made me regret the decision. Much to my surprise, it felt a little sore but way better than it had been when I tried the same thing a few weeks prior. On Friday night I decided to start the night in bed and see how long I could make it. I slept pretty rough until about 3 AM, when I got up and moved back into my recliner to finish the night. On Saturday night I made it the whole night in bed, but didn't sleep all that well. Each subsequent night since then I've slept a little better. It took me about a week and a half to really get used to sleeping in a recliner, so I'm speculating that it will take me another week and a half to get used to the bed again. But it certainly is progress.

As this week's newsletter draws to a close, I leave you with this piece of wisdom: If life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But if life doesn't also give you sugar and water, your lemonade will taste terrible.
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