Saturday, September 29, 2007

Here is a success story

Approximately ten months ago I had a bowel resection. The "suspicious mass" was malignant, however it was caught so early that my prognosis is excellent. The oncologist used the word, "you're cured." Periodic colonoscopies should prevent further occurrence. That is not to say that some other form of cancer might rear its ugly head, but I fall into the same risk category as others who have not had colon cancer. That is good news.

Recovery at home was tough. However I have a number of essays in this blog covering issues that I encountered during home recovery that may be valuable information to others going through a bowel resection.

In addition to the surgery I am/was being medicated for hypertension (high blood pressure) high cholesterol, type II diabetes and atrial fibrillation. In addition I encounter an irregular heart beat. Some of that information is also documented in this blog.

Now after 10 months, numerous trips to various physicians I am able to report substantial progress. While I was undergoing home recovery my weight dropped significantly because of lack of appetite. The surgery was in January, in March I decided to continue the weight loss in the form of a calorie counting diet. I had lost approximately 26 pounds in the two month period since surgery. In addition in March I had an atrial fibrillation episode that hospitalized me for two days while that settled out.

Now some ten months after surgery I am able to tell anyone interest that I have lost a total of 60 pounds and dropped 4 - 6 inches off my waist line and am in the process of retooling my wardrobe. Everything from my hats to my shoes are looser. I am walking 40 to 60 minutes a day at a 3.5 mph clip. I have completely eliminated the Metformin and Glipizide I was taking for type II diabetes. I have eliminated one of the two hypertension medications and upon advice of a cardiologist retained one medication, fosinoprol sodium (Amapro) because it has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack. My resting blood pressure averages 107/75 now.

I have dropped one of my two cholesterol medications called Tricor. Tricor targets triglycerides and my last blood test indicated my triglyceride level at 41 and normal range is 40 - 200. With that much upward room my physician agreed with me that eliminating Tricor is an acceptable risk.

My daily walking pattern had started to whip my heart into shape. As you may know as your heart becomes stronger your pulse rate slows down. The capacity of your heart to pump blood increases so the frequency it beats can slow. My pulse rate has slowed to the low 40's which my physician and I felt was too slow. To control the atrial fibrillation problem I was taking Lanoxicaps (digoxin) and a new drug called propafenone (Rythmole). The cardiologist told me to stop taking Lanoxicaps immediately after my physician called him to discuss the slow heart rate I was encountering. The cardiologist made an appointment for me to see another cardiologist that specialized in the electrical performance of the heart. When I saw this new physician and he learned that I had only had two A-Fib episodes in the past 18 - 20 years he basically said you do not have an atrial fibrillation problem. Two episodes in that period of time do not constitute a heart arrhythmia but are considered lone episodes whose cause is unknown. I know what the cause was, those were two times in my life I was undergoing extreme personal stress. Regardless this new cardiologist agreed that dropping the digoxin was OK as he felt it had no therapeutic effect at this time. (Digoxin slows the heart rate.) This doctor also felt that the propafenone was not necessary. In fact, propafenone can contribute to heart palpitations or irregular heart beat. We are now weaning me off the drug, in three months I well wear a Holter Monitor for 24 hours and if there are no episodes of A-Fib then the propafenone (Rythmole) will be dropped. I believe that will be the outcome.

When all is complete I will be a cancer survivor. I will have lost over 60 pounds. I will have in place a regular exercise program to strengthen and maintain my heart. I will have eliminated the type II diabetes medication. I will halve the cholesterol and hypertension medication and eliminated the antiarrythmia medication. I will be left with an irregular heart beat that most people encounter, they just can't feel it. My heart palpitations have reduced already, the sensation has become almost imperceptible, and I feel the best I've felt in 20 years.

Only time will tell if I am able to maintain this routine. I intend to! I document all of my progress in the form of a spread sheet filled with blood pressure, pulse and glucose information. It is my method of obtaining positive reinforcement. I can say that I've come a long way, I feel good, and hopefully the follow-up colonoscopy in November will document the success of the surgery.

I have learned that it is necessary for you to take an active part in your health maintenance. Doctor's do not know all of your past history. The usual blood tests and various test for specific symptoms do not tell the full story. I have spent a lot of hours studying on the problems I was encountering and have learned a great deal. This has assisted me in asking intelligent questions and add specific information as it relates to "me." This has allowed the physicians I pay to assist me in my health maintenance to make more informed decisions. I am another of those who have learned through painful experience that you have to take charge of your own health, all doctors can do is advise on what they know. So good luck and take charge!

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on your long recovery and decision to take control of your weight. Us kids always worried we were going to lose you early, to a heart attack most likely. We're so glad you have lost so much weight and are feeling fit as a fiddle, it makes all the difference in being alive or LIVING your life.