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Thursday, March 27, 2014

18th Month Progress On DH's Heart Disease

Today DH met with his Cardiologist for his 18 month follow-up. 

Here are his numbers today....

Total Cholesterol 107    HDL  27    LDL 57     Triglycerides 117

Total weight loss 58 pounds.

Dr. Martin was very happy with him this month.  Last November he had severely reprimanded DH, even though these are similar numbers.  We think that the doctor had been stressed out that day, having to deal with so many repercussions of holiday eating of patients whom he had seen prior to our appointments that day.

Today the appointment went very well and we enjoyed very much talking to
Dr. Martin about preventative cardiology as is related to lifestyle change and the low-fat plant based diet.

We gave him the book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., M.D. and he was grateful.

I later talked on the phone to Dr. Martin's nurse and she was very curious about how we have been able to implement the diet.  I told her that when my husband developed heart disease, on the day of his first stent placement, I had decided that my new mission in life was to provide healthy and delicious meals for my family.

This I do not resent or regret, as my husband is a valuable and wonderful man, and he is a blessing to our family and to this world, and I feel like I am helping a lot of people through helping him to stay healthy.

I know that if it weren't for the principles we have put into practice that we learned from Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, my DH would be suffering from some level of disability, but he does not suffer.  He is thriving.

I am so grateful for the hope that we have been able to obtain in our lives, that years ago others did not have before Dr. Esselstyn's studies were done.  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Heart of a Crazy Woman Going Through Menopause - A Possible Explanation for My SVT's and PVC's

Yesterday, I was having amazing episodes of palpitations.  I have just finished my period, and they always ramp up during the winding down of my period.  Having just gotten over a very mild case of the flu, they were more active than usual, going through bigeminy rhythm.  When this happens, I feel a little faint and panicky.

In the middle of the night, I woke up with a panic attack.  When I have panic attacks, I feel like I'm fading out of life, like I'm going to just pass out and die, but I have learned if I get up and do something purposeful, they goes away quite quickly.  I used to have them all night long, but I have learned that distraction usually gets rid of them.

I have had another development, the past few days, where my intestines have been moving around so much that it feels like pregnancy.  It isn't painful, it just feels like I have a baby moving around in there.  So I thought, "While I'm up, maybe I should go Google "wild peristalsis" and see why I'm feeling so much movement in my abdomen.  People with celiac are very in tune to the intestines, and any changes usually prompt some sort of inquiry.  This celiac diseased person also has an acute case of health anxiety, fueled at sometimes by Dr. Google, and calmed sometimes by Dr. Google.

This time Dr. Google provided answers to a three year questioning into my perceived health problems which are real but not as serious as they are perceived.

After three years of worry for me as to why I have these frustrating PVC's and SVT's, I think I have discovered why, and this discovery has prompted ideas on the path for easing the condition.

With this somewhat unrelated Google search the 1907 written, obscure book, by Byron Robinson, M.D. came up in my search.  In the book he had three chapters devoted to the nerve ganglia of the the uterus and ovaries, and how their menopausal related death affects the intestines, stomach, and the heart.

The book is entitled, "The Abdominal and Pelvic Brain".

In very lay woman's terms, in a very short nutshell, I am glossing over here in this post, his explanation that the ovaries, are connected to the intestines, stomach, and heart, and when they begin perimenopause, there journey to death, affects the intestines, stomach, and heart.

Byron was a gynecological surgeon, who had done hundreds of surgeries not only on women, but on animals as well.  He knew the physical functioning of a women's body probably almost as well as the Creator, particularly the nervous system. What he explains is that each one of the above mentioned organs, have a "brain center", called ganglia, that are connected to each other through a very highly involved network of nerves.

Therefore, as the ovaries and uterus begin their journey through menopause and begin to die, the system becomes confused,  referred pain and response happen to areas of the abdomen located away from the female reproductive parts.  Because of this, the nervous system can no longer focus on the brain centers contained in the ovaries and uterus.  The process of perimenopause teaches the body to refocus on the remaining brain centers in the intestines, heart, and stomach,  and this refocusing takes years of time, and the body goes haywire during the process.

Because of this the perimenopausal woman develops confusing symptoms that can feel like serious disease, and he says she goes from doctor to doctor to doctor looking for a cause to her problems, often to find that nothing is noticeably wrong by the doctor.

Interestingly, I have many of those symptoms right now.

The book is very involved with lengthy explanations using medical terminology on how the nervous system that connects these organs is affected by the uterus.  I would copy and paste quotes, but they would be chapters long.  So I'm summarizing the best I can in layman's or laywoman's terms what I understand  to happen.  This may turn out to be comical because my medical knowledge is as extensive as one can get with two semesters of medical terminology.  In other words, I am not a doctor, so don't take this as medical advice, and if you are a perimenopausal person, and have concerning symptoms, go to the doctor, as I have, and make sure you have a clean bill of health before ignore your symptoms, as I am trying to do now.

Because the nervous system of the uterus is connected to that of the intestines and stomach, nausea results during several female life functions and or diseases i.e. morning sickness during pregnancy, diarrhea during menstruation, nausea in the case of ovarian cancer.   I often wondered why women who have ovarian cncer may have ongoing nausea as a first symptom.  Now I know why.  I also wondered why while nursing my babies while I was eating gave me nausea.  My explanation is now because nursing causes the contraction of the uterus.  And eating while nursing involves both the stomach and the uterus and they are affecting each other.

Problems in the uterus can cause problems with the nervous system of the heart as well.  Dr. Robinson explains that when the nerves are irritated in the uterus due to the process of going into menopause, the nerves of the heart can become irritated, as well, and cause premature ventricular contractions, or what a layman might call palpitations.  This nerve irritation can also cause supraventricular tachycardia.  Back in 1907 there was not a term such as this, but he just called it a very fast heart beat.

There is so much more I wish I had time to explain here, but I would be rewriting Dr. Robinson's book.  But, the function of the heart, and it's ability to regulate it's own rhythm independent of the brain and spine is amazing.  The affect that the condition of the intestines, stomach, uterus, and ovaries can have on the heart is also amazing.  Or, should I say that the effect that these organs can have on each other is amazing.

As a celiac, when I have "palpitations" or "SVT's", it is often after I have been cross contaminated by gluten that these irritations of my heart rhythm occur.

Also, I have discovered when I become nervous, or angry, my intestines will go into spasms, and I will then have pain in my chest, a pounding heart, and palpitations.

I have had to learn not to let myself get nervous or angry to keep my heart beating more normally.

Can this be why we are told over and over that stress causes illness?

Dr. Robinson also says that he has most often seen this derangement in the perimenopausal women begin, most often at the age of 45.  This was exactly the age it began for me, but he says he has seen it happen in women as early as 20 and as late as 70.  He also says the stormier the puberty, the stormier the menopause

As a surgeon taking care of the uterine and ovarian problems for many years, working with a female surgeon partner, and operating on hundreds
of female patients, Dr. Robinson developed a deep respect for the condition of the perimenopausal woman.

It was his feeling that a perimenopausal women must not be judged on her behavior because of the neurosis caused by her physical pain, which can be, often too hard to bear, and that just living throughout the day with normal daily activities could be too much for her to handle while going through all of these changes to her body.

I have been hard on myself the last three years that I have been going through this, and I think this is typical of most women, but Dr. Robinson's comments should give us permission to be kind to ourselves.

He said he had known women to go from doctor to doctor to doctor looking for a diagnosis to the cause of her heart symptoms, only to find that the doctors could not find the cause because she was having uterine trouble and the doctors didn't know to look for the trouble there, or know that the trouble was being caused by the uterus.

I can't tell you how validating that is for me, as I have been diagnosed with myometriosis, and enlargement of the uterus, and after many heart tests, I have been given a excellent condition label for my heart, but heart rhythms are a problem on a daily basis.  The crazy thing is, I don't have any uterine symptoms.  My condition was discovered during a pelvic exam.  But, I do have heart symptoms, and after many heart tests over the period of two years, my heart has been given the "thumbs up".  See how confusing it can be?

According to Dr. Robinson, these problems do calm down immediately with hysterectomy, or once menopause is accomplished.  The woman then becomes more stable and able to handle a little more in life.  Maybe this is God's way of making us emotionally okay with stepping out of the childbearing years, which for me, has been very hard, wanting more babies to hold.

Because perimenopause is so hard on the woman's nervous system, he says that perimenopausal women need to realize they need to not get themselves in stressful situations, if at all possible, and those around them need to understanding that they are going through a process of life that weakens them and makes them very susceptible to stress.

This is what I'm coming away with from his comments.  "Let the young one's do the work that you once did, and work on supporting your aging process by simplifying your life."

At age 47, I am starting to see signs that I am going through this with irregular periods, more intestinal distress, and more palpitations.  It's a time not to seek for perfection, and not to take on more than I can handle.  God will understand.  My kids need me to be sane since I had most of my kids later on in my childbearing years.

I hope this information can help other women in my shoes.  If you feel like crying, like you are going crazy, like your body is falling apart, an increase of anxiety, then maybe you need to take stalk of your life and get out the excess.  I know I need to do this.  I haven't done it yet, but it's something I know I need to work on.

Dr. Robinson also says that the organs that are subject to visceral nervousness are worse off if the woman's circulation is bad.  This, then, means to me that I must eat healthily, and for me that is eating a low fat plant based diet because science has proven that this is the best diet for good circulation, and I need to exercise.

I hope to give more details as to why the exercise is important but has to do with core support of the organs so that they do not flop into areas of the abdomen where they don't belong thereby cutting off the circulation they need to function properly.  Already, it has been seen when I had my gallbladder out that my liver has already done some settling into my abdomen where it doesn't belong.  So keeping the abdominal wall strong is important to keep this nervous system that connects the organs healthy.

This has been a long post.  I hope it wasn't too much reading, but I hope this summary of Dr. Robinson's three chapters on women's health is helpful.  Granted his book was written way before now, in 1907, and he didn't have the advances we have now, but he did have much exposure through surgery which puts him at advantage for understanding of how a women's body works.  I don't believe he knew anything about hormones and how they complicate things even further, but he really understood the plight of middle aged women.

For those who enjoy hefty medical reading, here is a link to his book.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Sleep Breathing Problems Cured by Raising the Head of My Bed

I am happy to report that since I have raised the head of my bed four inches by putting 2x6" boards under the head legs, I have not had anymore sleep apnea, and my husband has also stopped snoring!!!!!!!!  So, I guess the theory that I read about, where blood pooling into the brain steam from lying flat can cause central sleep apnea in some people, must be correct in my case.  What a cheap and easy solution!

I might also add that I am no longer getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, and very rarely wake up with a racing heart anymore.  I would blame both of these improvements on the fact that my heart no longer has to work all night with my stomach pushing up against it.

Gravity is our friend, day and night folks.

Six Months Without an SVT

I just wanted to report that this month marks six months without an SVT!  It has been nice to have a break.

Here is what I have been doing to minimize the episodes....

1. Stay gluten free
2.  Fight for getting enough sleep
3.  Drink plenty of water daily
4.  Eat very little sugar
5.  Keep my anger under control
6.  Pray daily
7.  Keep stress down as much as possible
8.  Try not to overload my stomach
9.  Take at least 100 mg of magneisum glyicnate a day.  Sometimes I take two 100 mg. pills spread out through the day if my PVC's are more frequent, or if I am experiencing anxiety
10.  Walk two miles a day.

I don't know which or how many of these measures are keeping the SVT's at bay, but I do know that in every case, I have had an SVT when I have been angry or overly upset, so when I get those feelings, I will say "The person who is making you mad is going to cause you to have an SVT if you let them.  Being mad at them is not worth it.  You need to protect yourself from having an SVT, so don't let them have the power of making you mad.  Keep yourself calm and put it on the Lord's shoulders."  SVT's are nature's way of teaching me how to forgive others, I guess.

It will be interesting to see how I fair with the SVT's in the summer because they seem to be more frequent in the summer, so I will give a report again when the temperature changes and let you all know how I'm doing.