Rosalie Ungar is the author of IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib.
This is the second in a series of blogs by guest blogger Lisa Eliason. She, like me, has had many health issues most or all of which are managed or, in some cases, cured. Read about them and be inspired:
In 2012, I was a physical wreck. My sinuses were constantly congested, I woke at night gasping for breath, I was overweight, and suffered a bout of shingles. At one point, I could barely walk due to what I later learned to be osteoarthritis in my hip.
I was working full time and doing a lot of volunteer work. My husband was working full time and travelling the world for a national organization of which he was the president. He was never home. The home chores fell on me and it was during the winter and during one particular ice storm the heart arrhythmia hit. My doctor told me it was stress.
I knew what stress could do to my body. Back in the 1980s I was teaching in a program that was about to be cut at any time. Every Sunday night I experienced bouts of diarrhea thinking this was the week. I would go in on Monday and the diarrhea would clear up.
I decided to take care of the sinus issues first and learned I had sleep apnea. During sinus surgery my heart went out of rhythm and I awoke to doctors and nurses dashing about. The surgery was aborted but my Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) was diagnosed.
The Afib was definitely the worst of the health ailments. I dealt with it through medication and finally heart ablation surgery. To this day, I wish I had bypassed the medication and went right to the ablation. The medication would cause my heart to slow to 30 beats a minute at night and I was sure I was going to die in my sleep.
I changed my diet to an anti-inflammatory diet, lost weight, exercised, and recently had hip replacement surgery. The sleep apnea evidenced by the nighttime gasping stopped when I lost weight. I am now back to walking and riding an exercise bike.
How did I get to where I am today? Although the health issues progressed rapidly, it was a seven year process to return to good health. I read blogs from people who experienced similar problems, read books like Rosalie Ungar’s In a Heartbeat, and remembered the words of Henry David Thoreau I taught my students back in the 1980s, “As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.”
Every day I make a conscious effort to simplify my life whether it is by discarding material items from my life thereby becoming a minimalist or discarding unhelpful thoughts from my head. I don’t take on more that I can manage. I don’t watch mainstream TV. Sure I keep up on the national news, but I don’t spend my day consumed with news reports. I now recognize that stress can be a killer. I don’t know that stress caused my heart arrhythmia and other health ailments but am pretty sure it did contribute.
Thank you, Lisa for your openness in revealing health issues related to atrial fib. In next week’s blog I will report on my husband Ed’s heart ablation that takes place in a few days. It has been exactly 12 years since my first and only ablation. I have been atrial fib free since. Even so, much research and changes have taken place to make atrial fibrillation more treatable.