Posts Tagged ‘Exercise’

Got the Blues!

January 5, 2009

I hate days like this!

I’ve got a bad case of the Mid-winter Blues… so bad, I think I could sit down and put together a good bluesy song in just a few minutes. It’s not hard – just tap your foot as you sing, and after every line take your harmonica and play Whaaw-Whawwww-a-Wha! B.B. King would be proud of that song!

I’m cold… the weather isn’t really that cold, but I am. It’s dark when my feet hit the floor, and it gets dark so early, it almost feels as if it’s night 24/7. Throw in some lousy weather lately, and it feels like the day is 40 hours long! This time of year tends to make me a bit snarly!

Don’t worry about looking up the word “snarly”, it doesn’t exist. It’s my own invention, when I am snarly I am in a foul mood, and I snarl at people if I don’t take a deep breath and think about what I’m about to say.

On the good side of things, my new Under Armour ColdGear shirt is working out pretty well, but I’m not wearing it today. I’ve been wearing it most of the time all week, and the Funky Heart’s shirt was beginning to smell a little funky itself. So it’s in the wash. The shirt can’t make you warm, but if you are warm before you go outside – or you have on a nice thick shirt above it – it will trap your body heat and keep your warm. I’ve become a fan!

And to make me even more snarly, my weight is creeping up. Christmas was a little too much fun around here, I hate to say. So I’ve got to buckle down and get back to walking. Which means getting out in the cold, and shivering, and getting snarly.

But I gotta. After all, my heart is functioning on a pacemaker, bubble gum, Elmer’s Glue, prayer, and a good dose of stubbornness. Anything I can do now to take care of myself pays off later.

Do you walk? Run? Work out at the local gym? Are you like me, when it’s disagreeable outside, do you have to talk yourself into your exercises? Heart Healthy or not, we’ve got to keep at it, my friend. Your body will hate you for a while when you begin a new routine… and hate you even more if you let yourself get behind.

So get off the couch and join me on my walk. I promise not to get snarly with you!

Judge Tolliver Speaks

January 4, 2009

In the 1999 HBO movie The Jack Bull, John Goodman plays Judge Tolliver, one of the few honest judges in the area. Near the end of the movie he speaks with a fellow judge:

“I worry about you and me, Judge Wilkins. I swear to God I do, ’cause if this country gets ruined… it’ll be ruined by people like you and me. This is a territory of unimportant people; most folks around here can’t even write their name. You and me… we’re the important people. Trouble is, there’s not enough of us important people to go around – we’re spread thin, so sometimes, important things get ignored or don’t get said. Like… take care of the little feller; see to it that he don’t get ignored or cheated or insulted; make sure that his dignity does not get trampled on. Now you’re feelin’ bad right now, and by God, you ought to… seein’ as what just happened to a decent man. Myrl Redding did not fail the law…the law failed Myrl.”

(Special thanks to The HealthcareBS blog, The Happy Hospitalist, KevinMD, the About.com Patient Empowerment blog, DrWes, the Street Watch: Notes of a Paramedic blog, and Insureblog for the content behind the links!)

For these links we give thanks

November 26, 2008

Just in case you didn’t know, helicopters don’t glide very well. There have been a rash of medical helicopter crashes lately, which makes some people wonder if they are used too often. This issue is being investigated, and the use of air ambulances is down. So either the number of serious illness and injuries are down (doubtful) or the choppers are flying less. Hmm… why would anyone call for an airlift when it wasn’t needed?

Don’t go here for your medical information, they’ll scare you half to death. And don’t always believe these guys. And if you are looking for drug information, don’t look here. Check out Medscape instead. It’s FREE, and Medscape has a much better drug reference page.

Dr. Wes’ brother asks “Hey, you wanna see an operation?” If you want to see an operation (double bypass heart surgery) click this link. WARNING: The blood is real, and the bone saw is pretty loud.

Laurie smells a familiar smell on a subway car and it takes her back… to an unpleasant place.

Got Heart Failure? Then work it, baby!

I think I know why he is the Happy Hospitalist… he leaves all his frustrations on his blog. Here, Happy tells the story of the guy who thinks that free = more. I’ll take an eye exam, and a rotator cuff repair, with a side order of dental. Oh, and clean out my earwax, too; someone else is paying for it! The costs add up – an implantable defibrillator costs almost as much as some people make in a year. And when you consider this, you realize that our financial situation is just going to get worse. Pay off those credit cards, folks!

Maybe they’ll let us use a spider as payment.

Sometimes though, especially around the holidays, what we really need is a friend.

It’s almost Thanksgiving Day, and I’m spending Thursday with the family. Friday, a friend and I were supposed to just have lunch together, but she has the entire day off! So I’ll be away most of Friday, too. Have a safe, happy, and wonderful Thanksgiving; and remember to be kind to your fellow man and your four legged friends.

And don’t forget, Saturday is Red and Blue Day!

Always yours;

Steve

The Funky Heart

Four Million!

October 18, 2008

I walked my Four Millionth step today!

I feel a little bit guilty bragging about it… the weather was cold, it had been raining, and I didn’t really want to be outside. So instead of walking the long path we have through the woods, I circled the driveway for about twenty minutes, decided it was a bit too chilly for me, and came in. When I entered how much I had walked into my spreadsheet, the all time total read 4,000,002.

A milestone! But because I feel like I basically “gave up” for the day, I’ll just nod and smile. Don’t open the Champagne just yet, save it for a truly Important Event.

I really don’t add up the miles. I set my watch for a certain length of time and walk as fast as I can, using my Pedometer to keep track of how many steps I’ve covered. If I walk the same amount of time several days in a row, the number of steps should go up as my body gets used to the amount of exercise. If it doesn’t (and you have to allow for slight variations from day to day) there may be a problem. Defective hearts usually develop problems over time – sometimes so slowly that it isn’t noticeable. Monitoring your level of exercise could tip you off to any deterioration in your health before it becomes too big to handle.

Occasionally, you should reset your Pedometer. Mechanical Pedometers figured a pre-set distance every time you took a step. It was usually set to advance the distance of an “average” person’s stride, but the newer electronic Pedometers can take into account the length of your stride, not the average. Before you use it, the manufacturer recommends that you stand with your bare feet in a pan of water, step out, and then walk ten steps at your normal pace and stride. Now quickly – before your footprints evaporate – measure the distance covered by your footprints and divide by ten. The answer is your stride measurement. Enter this information into the Pedometer, and you are ready to go!

Cardiovascular exercise keeps your heart strong and functioning. If your heart ever has a crisis, it may need whatever reserves it can find to keep the system going. Living with a Congenital Heart Defect means that I don’t have much reserve. So I need to do what I can to build them up – and walking does that for you. My doc in Atlanta was quite pleased; he once told me that I had probably added 10 to 15 years to my life just by walking.

You don’t have to run a mile the first day you start – doing that would almost certainly lead to an injury; and I’ve never ran a step – but grab your sneakers and enjoy a nice brisk walk!

Taking it Easy

September 27, 2008

I’m off again this week – heading to Atlanta to see my Cardiologist. My appointment is early Wednesday Morning, so I’ll leave Tuesday and take my time getting there. The next day, I’ll have the appointment, and unless he keeps me hanging around for a test of some type, I’ll be able to beat the traffic out of town and be home that night.

My interview of Amy Verstappen will be posted after I return. Heart Moms and Dads, you will want to read this, the Adult Congenital Heart Association has some projects in the works that will help all of us, not just adults!

I have very poor coordination. If it were possible, I’d be “strolling through the crowd like Peter Lorre contemplating a crime,” but I’m more like Don Knotts searching for his bullet. While I was in Baltimore, I had three goals:

1) Represent myself and the ACHA well;

2) Not to spill the soup in my lap;

3) Not to spill the soup in anyone else’s lap!

And I was doing good until lunch at the conference, when we were served a bowl of Corn Chowder! Oh, my goodness… but thankfully, everything went into my mouth, and not on my shirt. (or anyone else’s.)

To be serious, I am very clumsy. If there is a water bucket with a mop in it within 500 feet, I will manage to put my foot in it somehow. The nicer my clothes, the more likely I am to damage them. Whenever I get dressed up for something, I just know that I will be swimming in green dye before the day is over.

There is really no way around it, you have to learn how to adapt. As Leo McGarry said in The West Wing, “You fake it until you make it.” I can fake it pretty good but I don’t think I’ve made it quite yet because half the time, I just know there is a disaster waiting to happen.

Like most sick kids, I was warned to take it easy during P.E. classes. And take it easy I did… to the point of being lazy.  I had the right to sit out the class when I wasn’t feeling good, and I sat out when there was no real reason to sit out, other than I had a bad case of “I don’t wanna!”

And that’s all my fault. That’s not part of having a heart problem, that’s having a laziness problem. And I’m convinced that is why I just don’t have the moves. Even today, while I know walking is good for me, I still have to fight off the lazies and make myself go outside.

So Heart Moms and Dads, if your Cardiac Kid seems to be loafing through life, don’t let him get away with it! If he can’t do something, I understand and sympathise. But if he can do something, he needs to get to it. As time passes and your body ages, you’ll find that you can’t do what you used to be able to do. (I know that lots of parents are nodding their heads in agreement.) And if your heart was damaged to begin with, you’ll find it harder and harder to keep yourself in shape. And most likely, you should have started long ago.

Song of the Open Road

August 8, 2008

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose. — Walt Whitman

Grab your shoes, we’re going for a walk. This is not going to be a casual stroll, we’re walking for our health.

I never was much for running, and tend to avoid it if at all possible. When I run, it is not very long at all before my heart and lungs start protesting. It’s almost funny to imagine my heart sitting there in the middle of my chest, pumping away and thinking “Now just hold on! You know I don’t like… stop that right now!” Whenever I run, it isn’t long before I’m standing with my hands on my knees with my breathing sounding like a worn calliope. So running is not for me, but walking is.

Your Cardiologist will tell you that exercise is good for you, as long as you don’t overdo it. By definition, a defective heart has weaknesses. Given the fact that your heart will weaken even more as you age, it only stands to reason that strengthening it as much as possible would be a good idea. Some people swim, others run. I walk.

You have to start small and, for a while at least, think small. Don’t try to do everything on the first day. When my Cardiologist told me that walking would be good for me, he told me to start with a fifteen minute walk around my driveway. I lasted seven.

Walking can allow you to clear your mind and work out your problems, but since nothing is really bothering me, I grab my radio. I also get my watch and my pedometer. I measure my walking in steps, not miles (You’ll understand why in a moment) so I make sure the step counter is reads 0, set the timer on my watch to 40 minutes, and off we go.

The trick, of course, is to make your heart work harder than it is used to working. I walk pretty often, so my heart is fairly resilient. But I’ve figured out a good way to get a workout without overworking — and perhaps damaging — my body. I began by setting the timer on my watch to 15 minutes and walking until the time ran out. I did that for about a week, until walking 15 minutes didn’t bother me at all. Then I increased the time by 5 minutes. When you’re used to that, add five more minutes.

I had been up to 65 minutes, but then my hernia flared up, which curtailed my walking. (The hernia is better right now, thankfully) Life in general got in my way on a couple of days, so it has been about a week since I walked. Just to be safe I went back down to 40 minutes today. After i finished, I did a little math: Steps taken divided by minutes walked equals Steps Per Minute. The higher my steps per minute, the better I think I am doing. The Steps Per Minute is pretty high and I don’t feel too tired at all, so I’ll go up to 45 minutes tomorrow.

CHDer or heart-healthy, exercise is good for you. And it doesn’t have to be complicated. So talk to your doctor — I’m not a doctor, so I can’t (and won’t) give you advice — about an exercise program and get moving.

I’ll see you on the Open Road.

NOTE: Sorry for the late post, a thunderstorm knocked out my electricity for a while last night.