no more Brussels sprouts

by Bella Rum

Let’s see if I can tackle this without completely boring you to death.

I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV.

So take everything here with a grain of salt… um… no, not salt. Salt isn’t good for you.

As I understand it, here’s the deal with my heart.

I’ve been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, better known as AFib or A-Fib. It’s the most common type of arrhythmia or abnormal heartbeat. The problem is in the upper chamber of my heart. The heart can no longer pump all of the blood out of there. Some of it pools and this increases the chance of blood clots, which increase the chance of stroke. Apparently the strokes caused by this can be quite nasty.

What to do? What to do?

Blood thinners decrease the risks for stroke. My cardiologist prescribed Coumadin. Coumadin can be a bit tricky. It reduces the opportunity for blood clots to form. This is a very good thing, but it must be regulated and monitored carefully – especially when you first start taking it. If the dosage is too small it isn’t effective in reducing the risk of blood clots – too much and you bruise easily and get nose bleeds, etc. I’ve already had two nose bleeds and my dosage has been reduced. My blood is checked every week. When we get it just right, once a month will probably be enough.

Vitamin K causes the blood to clot and it reduces the effects of the Coumadin. I have to limit certain foods and even eliminate a few. Leafy greens are rich in vitamin K. We all need vitamin K. So they attempt (as much as possible) to adjust the medication to the patient’s diet – not the other way around. It is key to eat similar amounts of vitamin K every week while taking Coumadin. You wouldn’t want to eat a lot in one week and very little the next. Here’s a list of foods that are rich in vitamin Kbut you have to scroll down, down, down to get the list. No curly kale for me and Brussels sprouts are limited. I know many of you don’t enjoy Brussels sprouts, but I love them.

And just what are those pesky symptoms?

Some people experience obvious symptoms when they have an AFib episode. Others may not experience any symptoms at all. A few months ago I started to get up from a reclining position, and the room started spinning. I had to crawl to the top of the stairs and call for H. When future episodes occurred, we assumed that it was nothing more than your regular, old, “run of the mill” vertigo and my doctor still isn’t 100 percent sure it was connected to my heart issues. I  only had one other symptom. I could feel my heart beating wildly on occasion. Since I had this same experience a little over a year ago, and I wore a heart monitor at that time, and nothing out of the ordinary was diagnosed, I believed it was more of the same. Nothing to be concerned about. I was wrong.

Symptoms for Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)
A fluttering feeling in the chest
Chest pain or pressure
Feeling out of breath
Feeling weak or tired
Dizziness and sweating
Feeling faint or lightheaded

What caused this?

I have a long history of high blood pressure. In my twenties, during the third month of pregnancy, my blood pressure increased sharply and never returned to a normal pressure. I’ve taken medication since then, but the high pressure has taken a toll anyway.

My doctor has ordered a sleep study for me – something I should have done long ago. I will also take a stress tests.

How Shocking!!!

When the Coumadin has been regulated and the other tests have been completed, I will be admitted to the hospital and my cardiologist will perform something called an electrical cardioversion. I will be sedated and an electrical shock will be administered to my heart. He hopes it will return to a normal rhythm.

Not everyone who has my condition is a candidate for this. It’s an individual thing, and all risk factors should be carefully weighed, but my doctor thinks I’m a good candidate because I haven’t had symptoms longer than a year and I’m “fairly young” and otherwise healthy. He said the odds of it working are about 65 percent, which isn’t as great as I’d like. Even if the cardioversion does work, there’s a significant chance that the AFib will return. Still, my doctor thinks it’s worth a shot. If it works, I could stop taking Coumadin and my chances of stroke would be greatly reduced.

This may not seem like a great option, but since I’m planning to live another twenty or thirty years, it’s probably the best option I have, plus it will offer interesting content for this blog. Maybe I’ll see the white light. You know I’ll do anything to entertain you. That’s right. This is all for you.

That’s all folks.