CHF Recovery: Day 13

It’s September 26, day 13 since I started trying to eat less sodium and take walks every day. I haven’t managed every single day but I’ve done a lot of walking. I haven’t walked yet today because I had a doctor’s appointment at 10:30; I will go a little later, I think.

My period is over; it ended yesterday and I am very relieved.

  • Got up, showered, and dressed in normal clothes
  • Had protein shake and morning meds
  • Went to the doctor

The doctor visit was just to catch my PCP up on all the Happenings™. And also one little tiny kinda gross thing that doesn’t need to be mentioned. It went fine and I am home again.

  • Ate half the salad I bought last night, so as to not destroy my sodium count for the day

CHF Recovery: Day 12

I am still on my period. Will it last until Wednesday? This is day 13. If it lasts till Wednesday it’ll be a 15-day period. That’s…pretty long

Note 2pm: It looks like my period may be over! Thank goodness. Now to bolt down some protein before heading out with Charles and Heidi.

  • Ate leftover steak from last night
  • Switched wallet and such to my camera bag, filled a water bottle, and headed out
  • Went to the Atlanta Greek Festival with Charles and Heidi

Note 6:15pm: It was awesome. They seem to have a whole new building this year? Or are making use of a building they didn’t use before. In any case, the vendors were all set up in a large ballroom, and it was far easier to navigate. In the past they’ve tried having them in the classrooms of the cathedral building and outside next to the stage, and neither of those places really allowed for good traffic flow, so this was great.

I had a chicken plate. I skipped the white bread roll (digestive issues) and the green beans (way too much sodium) and ate most of the chicken, about half of the rice, and the whole piece of spanakopita. It was really good. After that we went and got pastries (I got three pieces of baklava, one for today and two for other days) and then went back to the vendor area so I could buy a bowl I had spotted earlier. It’s gorgeous FYI:

handmade bowl I bought at Atlanta Greek Festival

I also saw an amazing matryoshka wooden apple with the most meticulous, beautiful artwork on it. It was the best of all the matryoshkas I saw. Unfortunately it was $200, so I did not get it.

  • Came home
  • Ate a piece of baklava
  • Picked up Wendy’s for dinner, since the Greek food was at like 4:30

I thought a salad would be safe, sodium-wise. I was wrong. The salad I chose had 1070mg of sodium, which given what else I’d eaten was not going to happen. Thankfully I had also gotten a small chocolate Frosty, so I ate that instead and saved the salad for another day.

  • Went to bed at 10pm

CHF Recovery: Day 11

Whoops, I forgot to even make a post yesterday. So here’s September 24, 2016

  • Got up, had protein shake and meds
  • Snuggled with Sean for a long time
  • Showered and got dressed; wore my size 8 shorts that I am really happy fit me again
  • Went to brunch with Sean; did pretty well on sodium
  • Basically goofed off on the computer until dinnertime
  • Went to Aspens with Sean for dinner; wore a nice dress

Note: We had a nice date because of Sean’s birthday, which was the day before. I splurged a bit on dinner but I did make sure they didn’t use salt when seasoning my steak. They gave us a Happy Birthday slice of red velvet cake for free and we also got apple cobbler. I had some of each.

  • Took my meds at the end of the meal as I had forgotten they were in my purse; almost lost the tiny heart pill when I dropped it but when I stood up it was somehow in my chair
  • Drove home as Sean had had some drinks
  • Goofed off online until bedtime

Progress

Today I read back through all my CHF Recovery posts and it was interesting to see how exhausted I was in the beginning and how I am able to do more now. The whole needing to leave jackets on the floor because I was too tired to hang them up, for example (it wasn’t depression, it wasn’t that I mentally couldn’t do it, it was that physically I was exhausted). Today I accomplished a lot—I still got exhausted and had to take a nap, but I was able to do so much more than I was in the beginning.

The biggest issue I see right now with how I’m doing is food and water. I need to drink as much water as possible to keep my kidneys safe, so I’m working on that. Food is hard, though. I signed up for HelloFresh to begin with because I hate planning meals and shopping, and I always get their easiest recipes, but even just pulling a box out of the fridge and following directions seems like too much some days. I am not sure what to do about this. All I know is I am eating a ton of low-sodium snacks in lieu of actual meals. It’s gotta stop.

CHF Recovery: Day 10

September 23, 2016. Period: Day 11.

Ugh.

  • Got up around 8:30
  • Took morning meds and had shake

Note 9:45am: I feel crappy. I don’t want to do anything. I need to do things. I am going to force myself to do things.

  • Did a task I had been foolishly putting off
  • Went on a 35-minute walk with a 3-minute cooldown
  • Got a phone call that greatly relieved me about the task I’d been putting off
  • Took shower
  • Got dressed; discovered my size 8 shorts fit me again!
  • Made myself some over-medium eggs (they broke) and toast
  • Ate some Whoppers and got uncomfortably full ;_;
  • Drove up to the doctor’s to get some paperwork filled out

Note 2:50pm: I found out that my kidneys are actually worse than they were in the hospital! Fantastic. So I need to drink a lot of fluids, but if I gain any weight I have to not drink a lot of fluids, on account of: heart failure. Double fantastic! I love the thought of being on dialysis

I am exhausted and as soon as I get this paperwork to HR I am going to bed.

  • Organized paperwork and sent it to HR
  • Got Sean’s paycheck out of the mailbox, drove to the bank, and deposited it
  • Divided a bag of trail mix into single-serving baggie portions (95mg sodium each)
  • Napped from a little after 5 until just before 8
  • Ate a yogurt and some peanut M&Ms for dinner (I need to get some sort of meal system going)
  • Picked up Sean from the airport at like 11pm
  • Got in bed sometime between midnight and 1 but didn’t get to sleep until around 3

CHF Recovery: Day 9

Tomorrow Sean gets home, and it’s also his birthday. I want to do something nice.

  • Got up at 7:30am
  • Weighed myself
  • Drank protein shake and took morning meds
  • Did a bit of reading and chatting
  • Went to the lab to have bloodwork drawn
  • Went to breakfast at J. Christopher’s, where I had the “South Beach” and discovered that two pieces of Canadian bacon have more sodium than two pieces of regular bacon (probably due to density or something)
  • Went to Costco and got protein shakes; while I was there looked for a big pillow to use for sitting up in bed, but did not find one
  • Went to Walmart for eggs, rice, and snacks; did not find a pillow there either, but did get a Kylo Ren candy fan because I am an adult

Kylo Ren candy fan

The candy doesn’t have any sodium okay

  • Came home and put groceries away, mostly; took it slow carrying the bags down the stairs
  • Sat down to rest a bit; read stuff online
  • Warmed up the second portion of the dinner I made yesterday; took my dinner meds and ate dinner while watching Batman v Superman: Ultimate Edition
  • Watched three episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine with Kathryn
  • Watched a friend’s art stream
  • Went to bed at around 11:30pm

CHF Recovery: Day 8

September 21, 2016

So, here’s a bit of TMI to start out our day.

When I was in the hospital (which was the night of September 8 through around noon on September 11), they gave me my depression medication, but they did not give me any birth control. Birth control is what regulates my periods. I was due to go off the birth control/start on the placebo today, September 21, and with the way my cycle has been, that would mean I would actually start my period on Friday, September 23 and it would last until next Tuesday or Wednesday. This is a standard period of five to six days.

However, because I went off the birth control early, my period decided to start early too. I started spotting on September 12, and it began in force on September 13. It’s September 21 now, which means I’ve been having my period for nine days.

I started taking my normal birth control right when I got home, but that obviously had no effect. I thought about just bumping the placebo up, but ultimately I did not do that, which means I now have a week of placebo ahead. I’m sort of worried this means I will have a period for this entire time. I mean…eventually I’ll run out of uterine lining, right?

Sigh.

In any case, I have an appointment today, so I’m going to try to get my morning routine done more quickly.

  • Weighed myself
  • Had my protein shake and morning meds
  • Read stuff online
  • Went to appointment
  • Did more reading online but felt very mentally tired
  • Took a nap from 2:00 to 4:30
  • Cleaned rotten food that should have been cooked last week out of the refrigerator
  • Cooked dinner: unseasoned chicken breast, unseasoned basmati rice, unseasoned steamed green beans (I threw some pepper on at the end though)
  • Ate dinner and took mealtime meds

Note 6:15pm: My appointment was with a therapist. I am supposed to pay attention to what I criticize myself about now. I need to figure out a place to put that. I do a lot of criticizing myself.

I feel very overwhelmed by all the stuff I need to do, even though it’s not all that much stuff.

  • Created a spreadsheet to track self-criticisms
  • Realized that I hadn’t eaten very many calories, so had a cookie, because that’s healthy lol
  • Oh whoops there’s another criticism
  • Went on a 30-minute walk with a 5-minute cooldown
  • Took a shower at like 8:45pm!
  • Sat around reading, and also wrote a tiny ficlet about Kylo Ren

I didn’t hit my calorie limit and I only had half the amount of sodium I could have today. This seems surreal, but I’ll go with it I guess. Tomorrow I’ll try to make sure and eat lunch.

CHF Recovery: Day 7

Here’s my junk for September 20, 2016.

  • Slept in until around 8:30
  • Took meds and drank protein shake
  • Sat around online all morning

Note 11am: I am now going on my walk, damn it. Need to get back on track.

  • Walked 30 minutes with a 5-minute cooldown
  • Rested
  • Showered and got dressed
  • Ate the rest of my personal pan pizza for lunch
  • Made a couple of Important Phone Calls
  • Relaxed and read stories
  • Got a protein bistro box and a chai latte from Starbucks for dinner

Note 6:30pm: I have just learned that the fruit and cheese bistro box and the PB&J on wheat bistro box both have one more gram of protein than the protein bistro box. Why is it called the protein bistro box? hahaha. The fruit and cheese one has basically equivalent sodium, so I can switch things up a bit in the future! The PB&J one has 100 more milligrams of sodium, so I’d have to watch it with that one.

  • Had mealtime meds with dinner
  • Basically sat around reading all evening
  • Went to bed around 11pm

CHF Recovery: Day 6

Catching up; here’s September 19, 2016.

  • Did not exercise
  • Did not even change out of my pajamas
  • Spent all day on the computer reading stories
  • Thought about watching TV but did not

I guess the only thing I accomplished was moving my computer from the master bedroom back into the office. I took it slow so I wouldn’t strain myself.

For food I basically ate a ton of snacks that we had in the house, and finished the sashimi from the day before. By dinnertime I was really craving pizza so I let myself have some. I ordered a personal pan pizza and ate half of it. I went a little over on sodium, but not horribly so.

This was not a great day. Hoping to get back on track. Maybe I needed some rest. I dunno.

CHF Recovery: Day 5

I’ve fallen behind on these, so here’s what I did on September 18, 2016.

This was a fairly busy day. Sean and I had to go to an appointment and then I had to take him directly to the airport. We realized somewhat belatedly that we hadn’t done laundry, so we threw a load into the washer, got ourselves cleaned up, and then put the laundry in the dryer while we went out to brunch. We got back, got him packed, and headed off to our appointment. Success.

I did not do any exercise this day that I can think of. But I did log my food in MyFitnessPal as I’ve been doing every day.

For dinner I took myself out for sashimi. I had used up most of my daily sodium on brunch (I somehow forgot what “cured” means when I decided on the citrus cured salmon). Raw fish with no rice and no soup beforehand is pretty low in sodium. I went to SunO afterwards and had some shaved ice, which is also low in sodium but high in sugar. Oh well.

CHF Recovery: Day 4

For September 17, 2016, here’s some stuff.

  • Woke up naturally at around 7:30 (after going back to bed around 3:30).
  • Had protein shake and took morning meds.
  • Ate some trail mix and fiddled around online until it was time to go to JapanFest. (I had to stop reading chapter 21 of Under the Ruins… right after a Very Exciting Scene and I am looking forward to getting back to it)
  • Drove to JapanFest. Briefly wondered if it was wise to drive on the interstate, but did fine.
  • From around noon till 2:30, walked around JapanFest with Charles and Heidi, occasionally stopping for rest breaks. It was fun but extremely crowded. I am counting this as my exercise for the day; it was a lot of standing and moving around, even if it wasn’t strenuous. The best part was getting to see Kumamon, the mascot character for Kumamoto Prefecture.
  • Somewhere in there I ate lunch. I gave up on guessing which Japanese food would have the least amount of sodium and just bought prepackaged stuff: curry bread and mojimi red bean cakes.
  • I got home around 4 and Sean was just then having dinner, so I ate some snacks and took my heart medicine with them.
  • Basically relaxed for the rest of the day. Ate macaroni and cheese at 9pm.
  • Went to bed at 11:45.

CHF Recovery: Day 3

Stuff for Friday, September 16, 2016

  • Due to staying up late, slept in till 8:30
  • Drank protein shake and took morning meds

Note 10:05am: I am really depressed this morning. Mainly because I wrote a short story yesterday and did not get flooded with accolades overnight. I hate how dependent I am on praise/validation. I’m hoping my walk will help.

  • Dressed in workout clothes
  • Went on 30-minute walk with 5-minute warmup and 5-minute cooldown
  • Rested and ate a yogurt
  • Showered, and actually shaved!

Note 12:23pm: Okay wow, they say exercise is good for depression and it is true. I pushed myself on my walk, not too hard but enough—I walked up steep hills and even jogged a little. The weather was beautiful and when I was done I felt great. I didn’t care about my story not getting comments anymore. I felt very positive about the future and my ability to do things if I try. After resting I took a shower and felt good enough to stand there and shave my legs, which I hadn’t done in quite some time. It’s so nice to wear shorts again.

I’m going to lie down a bit, but I’m still feeling good. I’m glad I had that walk.

  • Took a nap for about an hour and a half
  • At Sean’s suggestion, went up the road to Smoothie King and got a Greek yogurt smoothie for lunch
  • Did some reading
  • Felt kind of cruddy so went back to bed at about 5:30pm…and slept until 12:30am! o_o
  • Got up and quickly ate a Lunchable so I could take my mealtime meds

Note 1:37am: Well, I have destroyed my sleep schedule probably, but I feel okay. I didn’t really eat enough yesterday, but since I overate the day before, maybe it balances out. This weekend is JapanFest and I’m going to go, but I won’t be as active as I have in years past I guess! I may have to leave early, even. We’ll see. I’m also not sure how eating will be, I usually have lunch there but I have a feeling all the food will be really salty. Guess I’ll find out tomorrow.

CHF Recovery: Day 2

Here’s what I did on Thursday, September 15:

  • Drank protein shake and took morning meds
  • Got dressed in workout clothes
  • Walked for 30 minutes, this time hiking down to the river
  • Sat on the couch and rested for awhile while talking with Mom and Connor on Skype
  • Fried myself an egg and made a piece of toast, still on Skype
  • Ate my second breakfast and finished the Skype call
  • Hung up the jackets I’d left lying on the floor yesterday
  • Took a shower and dressed normally (jeans and t-shirt, like yesterday)
  • Rested for awhile
  • Ate lunch (the second serving of the HelloFresh meal I made yesterday)
  • Rested some more (I thought about doing things but I felt tired)
  • Figured out what I could eat from Shane’s Rib Shack to stay under my sodium limit; went there with Sean to pick it up
  • Ate dinner and took mealtime meds
  • Watched 30 Rock
  • Wrote a couple very short stories
  • Took my bedtime meds and went to bed at 11:30

CHF Recovery: Day 1

Here are the things I accomplished on Wednesday, September 14.

  • Drank protein shake and took morning meds
  • Organized my closet a little (took the pile of jackets off my workout clothes)
  • Dressed in workout clothes
  • Went on 30-minute walk through neighborhood
  • Rested
  • Took a shower and dressed in regular clothes
  • Cooked a HelloFresh meal (it took three hours due to needing to rest throughout, but it came out great!)
  • Ate meal and watched Back to the Future
  • Set up MyFitnessPal with custom protein and sodium limits
  • Cleaned kitchen and started dishwasher
  • Napped for about an hour, until Sean came home and asked what to do for dinner
  • Relaxed while Sean made tuna sandwiches and creamed corn, since those things kept me under my sodium limit (I was pretty tired at this point)
  • Ate dinner and took evening meds
  • Watched The Clone Wars (finished the series) and otherwise relaxed for the rest of the evening
  • Took bedtime nutritional supplements and went to bed at 10:00

I left the jackets on the floor next to the hall closet. Never had the energy to hang them up. Sean thought this was hilarious.

Exercise: 30-minute walk, Sodium: 1923mg

Congestive Heart Failure, Take Two

me in the ER, sticking out my tongueThat’s right, kids, I have congestive heart failure again!

Thursday night, September 8, I was lying in bed trying to get to sleep, but the pain and pressure in my chest was making it difficult to relax. I was also having trouble with breathing—air was going in just fine, but it felt like I wasn’t getting all of it, somehow. I’d had these symptoms for a few hours, and thought I was just stressed out (I have been stressed out a lot lately), so I hadn’t really done anything. But finally I asked my mom what she thought, and she told me to go to the ER.

I was given an EKG right off the bat and taken to a room in the ER pretty quickly. I spent several hours there, leaving only for a CT scan. They brought a portable X-ray machine right into the room, which was neat. I also had blood drawn and they took a urine sample. Since I was having trouble breathing, they put me on oxygen, which helped my chest pain a lot.

When the test results came back, they showed pulmonary edema. They decided to admit me at 4am, and got me into a room by 5:20. (It was now Friday, September 9.) I tried to sleep, but people kept coming in and waking me up. Eventually I was taken for an echocardiogram, which showed an ejection fraction between 25 and 30, just like the last time I had CHF. (I did not actually learn this until Saturday.) Later that same day I was taken for a cardiac catheterization, where they stick a catheter up the femoral artery to look at the arteries and heart. This confirmed that my arteries were fine and the problem was the heart muscle. It was also terrifying, because I had never had that done before, and I sort of started freaking out in the operating room. Thankfully, they gave me some sort of drug that made me very sleepy and blissfully ambivalent, and I didn’t feel anything thanks to the lidocaine.

Sean cutting bites for meAfter the cath I was finally allowed to eat. I hadn’t had any food since dinner the previous day, and dinner the previous day was a Lunchable because I was too stressed to cook anything. (I had at least had Shane’s chicken tenders for lunch.) Dinner was fantastic—I don’t know if it actually tasted that good or if it was just because I was starving. Due to the cath I was not allowed to raise my head, so Sean had to feed me, which was funny but also sweet.

One nice thing about this day in the hospital was that I was allowed to have cran-grape juice. It was delicious. Overnight someone brought me a bagel and some pudding because I was hungry, and that was good too.

The next day, Saturday, September 10, I was on the “cardiac diet,” which is low sodium and low sugar. Tastes as good as it sounds! Thankfully, I only had to endure one such meal, as I was released at 11:30. I will probably remember those cardboard pancakes for the rest of my life.

After being released, I basically tried to rest, as I was not allowed to drive or carry more than 10 pounds. I saw my doctor for an outpatient checkup on Tuesday, September 13. My instructions from her are as follows: 1) take my medication; 2) check my weight daily and call her if it changes rapidly; 3) get 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day; and 4) limit my sodium intake to 2000mg per day. I started with the exercise and sodium-watching yesterday, Wednesday, September 14. I’m using MyFitnessPal to track my weight and my food, and RunKeeper to track my walks. For now, I think walking is probably the best moderate exercise for me.

I cooked a meal yesterday. It should have taken about half an hour, but instead it took three hours, because I kept having to stop and rest. Having CHF is very frustrating. However, if I work hard, I will be able to strengthen my heart muscle and live normally again, so that’s my goal.

I am thinking I will make short posts each day to check off my accomplishments. Maybe I’ll include a note about how I’m feeling, maybe not. I just think it would be nice to have a record of things I did, to show my progress.

Anyway, there you go. I have CHF again. I was foolishly assuming that since I’m no longer obese, I wouldn’t be at risk for it anymore, but I guess I’m predisposed. This time it wasn’t even set off by an illness like last time; it was apparently caused by stress. So I may end up taking heart medication for the rest of my life. (A small price to pay to avoid hospitalization, though!)

me in a hospital bed giving a thumbs-up