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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Heart Healthy Snack

We had a major snow storm so Dh is working at home today.  At noon, he came upstairs to make himself his favorite snack, a baked potato topped with fat free refried beans and chopped tomatoes.  Look at the potato he pulled out of the bag today.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Zeroing in on SVT Triggers - Glutening and the Vagus Nerve

I haven't had an SVT in over two weeks, and each day I get from the last one, the happier I am, and the more confident I am that I can do my mommy to do-list, like driving, grocery shopping, etc.

Today, I did have the "thump" in my chest I always get before an SVT starts.  I was at the grocery store and I was hungry.  That destroys my full stomach theory.  I was tasting fresh fruit samples that they had, a clementine, strawberry, and a mango.  I no sooner swallowed the mango when "thump" went my heart, and a very short 5 second SVT run started.  I recognized it and started to do deep breathing and it went away.  Thank Goodness!  They are so uncomfortable and I did not want to do this in the grocery store.

The common feeling I have had today to all of the other days I've had my SVT episodes is feeling like I have been glutened.

I have felt quite well stomach and heart wise for several days now, but this morning, about 1:00 a.m., I woke up with horrible pain in my small intestines.  It was a typical, "Oh no, I've been glutened!" feeling.  I knew I had been glutened, but I didn't know how.  I struggled through the cramps and pain for an hour and got up and sat in the Lazy Boy until I fell back to sleep.  I slept for 5 hours in the Lazy Boy, so I must have been tired.

When I woke up at this morning, it felt like classic glutening, plugged ears, brain fog, stomach cramps, weak legs, and loose bowels.  I couldn't figure out how I had gotten glutened for sure, because I only ate home prepared foods all day, but lentils are the suspect.

A couple days ago I cooked some lentils that have been notated as gluten free on Hyvee's gluten free web site, but as I was rinsing them off I noticed a few other things in them, some chaff and a few yellow split peas.  The little voice in my head said, "These lentils might be cross contiminated if they have other materials in them."  

I have read that lentils are grown next to wheat, but Hyvee has them on their list, so I thought they were safe.

The only other thing I can think of is that my kids were eating bread yesterday and put their gluteny hands on the computer mouse, the phone, or the refrigerator door, etc.

I've gotten in the habit of washing the refrigerator door handle everyday, but it just occurred to me that the computer mouse could be a problem.

As a family, we are 80% gluten free.  I used to make bread for the whole family, but I've had to give that up because the process of the kids cutting slices of bread from a homemade loaf gets bread crumbs everywhere.  So, I buy them two loves of store bought bread per week, and whole wheat tortillas.

We manage to keep their stuff and my stuff seperate, but maybe yesterday I wasn't so good at it.  Or..... it was the lentils.

But, this one thing I am realizing for sure, that everytime I have had trouble with SVT's my stomach hasn't felt so well.

Connecting our stomachs, esophagus, and hearts is a nerve called the vagus nerve.  It is called the vagus nerve because it wanders (vagus is latin for wanders) through the body and many organs are connected to it.

I'm assuming that the glutening that has irritated my stomach has also irritated the vagus nerve and when it is irritated, I have more chances for my heart and it's conduction system to become irritated.  Perhaps when I ate the mango, the acid irritated my stomach further and triggered a small run of SVT.  I can say that nothing has set well with my stomach all day.

Today I googled PVC's, SVT's and stomach, and came up with a lot of hits from forum participants who noticed that their SVT's and PVC's correlate with indigestion.  There seems to be, at this point, a correlation for me.

I am excited to keep tract of this trend for the future.  Perhaps, being ever so careful about the gluten issue will lessen my episodes.  I have been gluten free for two years, but I still don't believe sometimes that I have celiac's disease and I am not as careful as I should be, but I get lessons taught to me all of the time.

I will keep posting my progress.  

Friday, January 25, 2013

What to Eat With the Mouse

We're planning a trip to Disneyland, and I've been struggling to figure out what to eat while we are there.

I searched through the menus of the restaurants at Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure and wrote down all of the menu items that fit into a gluten free, low fat plant based diet.  What I discovered was that at several restaurants we could get basically the same thing....  a plate with romaine lettuce, topped with cucumber, red and yellow cherry tomatoes, pecans, and dressing.  I actually had something like this last year at the Magic Kingdom at Liberty Tavern last year.  It was good, but I'm sure it wouldn't fill up my boys, especially after walkng the park all day.  In additon,  I would have to have the pecans taken off and ask for vinegar for dressing.

While I'm very glad that I could call any Disney restaurant ahead of time and tell them about our dietary restrictions, I'm trying to figure out if I could just bring snacks with us hat would be more filling than a plate of lettuce with a few vegetables sprinkled on top.

I'm not knocking Disney at all.  I'm sure they would sautee us a plate full of vegetables in water instead of oil if I asked them to, but I'm trying to decide if I can provide better options for less cost.

So I'm making a list of snacks that we can take with us.  Some of the snacks we'll put in the lockers on Main Street USA with something to keep them cool, and others we'll carry around with us to snack on when we get the hankering.

Here's what I've come up with so far, and if anyone has anymore ideas, please post in the comments below. Remember, they have to be gluten, sugar, and fat free. :)

sliced bell peppers
sliced carrots
sliced cucumbers
cherry tomatoes
frozen or fresh grapes
apple slices bathed in lemon juice
baked corn tortilla chips (Before I bake them I dip them in tomato juice.  This makes them crispy and not too hard to chew)
all of the above dipped in homemade hummus
roasted chickpeas
kale chips
baked potato chips
baked sweet potato chips
bean burgers  (I lived off of bean burgers and grapes for two days when DH was in the hospital)

I also plan to take advantage of the three fruit stands that are placed at the Disney resort.  They have several sliced fresh fruit items like pineapple, mango, watermelon, and apples that we can catch for fun too.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Dropping the Fitness Challenge

Last week I posted that I was engaged in a fitness challenge at church.  I was blogging my food journal here on the post Fitness Challenge Menu.

I soon learned, however that the fitness challenge was not what I expected.  It became the domination of one member of the group who felt it was okay to adjudicate the other members, change the slant of the rules according to her realm of opinioin, and given unsolicited advice to other members when encouragement was supposed to be the purpose.  I felt there was a potential for members to have their feelings hurt.

I need to finish the daily menu I started on my Fitness Challenge Menu page, but I found that the food journal, and the angry thoughts I was developing toward this member of the group was stealing my energy away from my family, so I dropped my partcipation.

I'm just explaning the reason for the unfinished business on my menu.

My children and husband always come first, so I will finish it someday when I have more time.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Lowest Cholesterol Numbers He Has Ever Seen

This morning DH and I went to Walgreens and had them run a lipid profile on both of us, and here are the results.....


Total Cholesterol:  101
HDL:                      22
Triglycerides:          179
LDL:                       44

According to the Esselstyn report DH is currently heart attack proof!!!!!  According to McDougall and Esselstyn, it doesn't matter what your HDL is, no matter how low, if you get your LDL low enough, under 80, you are heart attack proof.


Total Cholesterol:  153
HDL:                       42
Triglycerides:          137
LDL:                         83

DH is still on cholesterol medications.  The pharmacist says, even with the Simvastatin, DH's cholesterol is lower than others get it with Simvastatin, so he could go off of it, if his doctor would approve.  However, studies show that mortality rates are much lower for any person on Simvastatin, so we don't expect him to be taken off of it.

The pharmacist says he does several of these cholesterol tests each week and he has never seen numbers this low.  He was very excited for both of us, but he didn't ask what we are doing.

It is such a comfort that both DH and I are heart attack proof.  With my SVT's, this knowledge gives me comfort that my episodes are not to be worried about.  Because I have these episodes, it is imperative that I do not have cholesterol built up in my arteries, especially my carotid arters, because SVT's can cause strokes in those with plaque build up, and heart attacks with those with plaque build up in the coronary arteries. With DH's recent heart problems, it is a huge comfort to me to know that the only threat of heart attack for him at this point would only happen if the stents he has failed, which is unlikely.

As someone who has never in her life been able to get her total cholesterol down below 200, no matter how much exercising was done, I am extremely amazed and happy to have these numbers.   Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I could achieve these numbers.  I had heard of people that naturally had cholesterol levels below 200, and thought they must be exercising two hours a day to achieve such numbers.

When I measured at the hospital I worked at with 235 as a 20 year-old, the doctor told me I had the hereditary kind of cholesterol and scheduled me for checks every six weeks.  Now I know it wasn't heredity that was causing it, it was the scrambled eggs and hotdogs I was having for breakfast every morning.  Yeah, hot dogs for breakfast, gross!

Dr. Esselstyn told us, and I now believe him, that high cholesterol and heart disease are food born illnesses, and those who have hereditary tendencies to both can still eliminate them with a low-fat plant based diet.

I've been testing his theory for a year.  My first cholesterol test, a year ago after being on his diet for three weeks, showed me at 170.  My last test, six weeks ago showed me at 160, and now I'm at 153.  It works, and I'm just another one of his fans that are proving it.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Learning to Live with SVT's

I have come a long way since my 3rd SVT this past October.  Yesterday I had my 4th SVT.  I was scrubbing the kitchen table, and then I walked into the bathroom to use the facilities and was going from a standing to a sitting position, I twisted my torso a little bit, and I felt a thump in my chest, and then my heart felt like it was fluttering.  I yelled out to the family, "I'm in tachycardia!"

I called for DH to come and stay with me while I finished and then we walked into the kitchen by the clock so I could count heartbeats.  I tried several vasal vagal maneuvers, coughing vigorously like Dr. XXXX showed me, splashing cold water on my face, and bearing down like I was having a bowel movement.  This made me to have to actually have to go, so through the heart race I went to use the facilities again.

This  action should have stopped the episode, but it didn't.  I was so frustrated, and thought, "Oh, great!  I'm going to have to go get my shoes on so I can go to the ER for an adenosine push!"  So I got my shoes on and arranged for DS to watch the kids.

 I tried to stay emotionally calm through all of this because I knew that if I got worked up, my heart rate would go up.  My top rate this time was only 148.  That was great because the time before last was 163, and last time it was 200, I'm sure because the paramedics were having so much excitement with the opportunity for an adventure in our sleepy city that I was providing for them, they got me all worked up.  But I have to say, I do appreciate the young men that work at our fire department.  They are kind people.

This time I knew that I wanted to really try hard to convert on my own, and that meant I had to stay calm and think with a clear head.  I couldn't let the flight or fight response kick in this time.  I knew because of Dr. Martin, the ER doctor, and FP telling me that my heart was structurally sound and no sign of heart disease, that these SVT's were only a nuisance and not life threatening, so this time I knew I had time to be patient and try to convert on my own.

With my first SVT two years ago, I converted on my own, the one this past July, I converted by drinking 5 glasses of water at the grocery store Urgent Care, and saying a prayer. The third one I called the fire department because I knew I needed to get the SVT on a monitor, a really smart move on my part for my emotional healing. To get documentation on the type of arrhythmia I had, and to find out it was the benign kind of tachycardia was vital for controlling my anxiety levels. Even though the adenosine push was a dramatic experience when I had my SVT in October, yesterday I converted again by calming down, saying a prayer and drinking the 48 oz. of water, like I did with my July episode.

Yesterday,  I also took my blood pressure.  My blood pressure was 135/80.  I've had it go go up to 160/110 during the episode in the ambulance, but the one I had at the grocery store my blood pressure was 130/80.  It helps to stay calm, like I say.  I was calm when I had the episode at the grocery store Urgent Care because the nurse practitioner was very good at calming me down. By the way, I just want to mention that she was just running a "bandaid station", so she didn't have an EKG machine.

Yesterday, DH put a chair in front of mine, sat down facing me, held my hands, and just talked to me calmly.    He did mention that he was amazed to see my pulse in my neck.

I tried my blood pressure a second time and while I was trying to put on the cuff (this was about 10 minutes after drinking all of that water), I converted.   Hallelujah!!!!!!!  This was so important to me!!!!!

The conversion was actually uncomfortable.  I suddenly got very dizzy and then momentarily felt like I was floating, and then I couldn't feel my heart beating anymore.  This is when I knew I had converted.  I was so happy to have converted on my own, because the paramedics had told me with the last SVT that I should always call them when I go into SVT.  This could get expensive, and they are not doctors, and I know that if I have another driver with me, I have plenty of time to get to the ER if I can't convert on my own. So, I won't be calling them again, unless I'm having symptoms like chest pains, or about to pass out.

Today I found a blog that I found to be extremely comforting.  This is from a cardiologist who has SVT's. I have now switched off of her page so I can't remember her name, but I did put her  URL on my clipboard, so here is her blog address....  Notice, she is also a vegan. :)

She talks about her experience of being an interventional cardiologist and a heart patient at the same time.  It was comforting to know that the unsteadiness you feel about life when you are living with SVT's, she also experienced, and were similar to the feelings I have.  It was also interesting to see that her SVT's seem to be exercise induced like mine seem to be.  In addition, it was comforting to know that she was willing to opt for an ablation because of the disruption the SVT's were in her life.  Knowing that she was not concerned about the invasiveness of the surgery, I shouldn't be either, should I have to rely on that option.

Anyway, having seen DH go through two heart catheterizations, I know that it is not a very serious operation.  I just hope that if I end up needing it, I can get it approved when Obamacare kicks in.

Having done much reading this week, I am learning that I should just expect to have to live with this the rest of my life.  What I am learning is, I must keep living.  I can't be afraid to live.  Also, there are many, many people who have this condition for many years and still have productive lives.  Lastly, I have learned that I must learn how to deal with stress and not push myself on the days I feel run down.  All of my SVT's have been on the days I have felt run down.

Dr. Martin told me that he moved from Illinois to Iowa to get rid of the stress in his life.  Then one day, he realized that stress follows you wherever you go, but he said, "the key is to learning how to manage stress because stress is a condition that meets us at birth and follows us throughout life.  It's part of being human, and we have to learn how to deal with it." So many people I have read from have been told that controlling SVT's depends on controlling stress.

I have to learn not to let myself get worked up or angry.  I have to learn that I can't have control over everything.  I also need to remember that I can go to Heavenly Father in prayer when I do get stressed out.  Yesterday's SVT ended while I was putting on the cuff and saying a silent prayer at the same time.  The SVT I had in July ended during a silent prayer.

Another thing I have learned, now that I have had four SVT's is that the first warning sign is cramps in my calves.  This tells me that being run down may be from being low on potassium, or magnesium, or both.  All of my SVT's have happened within 24 hours after forgetting my magnesium supplement.  I have also been sleep deprived on these days, and from what we have learned from Caronlyn Dean, M.D.'s studies on magnesium deficiencies. magnesium can become more deplete with lack of sleep.

All of my SVT's have also been during PMS or during my menstrual cycle, which also causes a decrease in magnesium levels.

All of these discoveries, now that trends are showing for me, point to the importance of taking care of myself, which I am trying harder to do.

Just to summarize the trends again, in order to be helpful to others.  The following conditions have been precursers to my SVT episodes....

Feeling run down, like having the flu (I am recovering from the flu, by the way)
Having leg cramps the day before and the day of the SVT
Missing my magnesium supplement
Physically pushing myself in the form of physical labor despite being exhausted.
Being sleep deprived.
Being in PMS or in the middle of my period.
Being angry or stressed out.

On all four of the my SVT's I have met all of these conditions.  I don't know exactly what the trigger is, but I know that if my legs hurt, I must figure out why and take care of it.  What that requires at this point, I haven't figured it out yet, but I will.  If I am sleep deprived, I must take it easy.  If I am in PMS, I must take it easy.

I'll keep posting my progress on avoiding SVT's on this blog.  Hopefully, I will never have one to write about again, but that is unlikely.  Hopefully, they will never get bad enough for me to have an ablation, but I'm glad it's an option, if it's needed.

I'll keep everyone posted.  Thanks for reading!!!!