Rosalie Ungar is the author of IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib. This post was first published on July 17, 2017.
Besides the heart attacks, pacemaker implants, and increasing bouts of atrial fib, I had full hip replacements on both hips. An attack of pancreatitis made gall bladder surgery necessary. Chronic thyroid problems flared up from time to time and cataracts in both eyes required cataract removal.
Medications including the blood thinner warfarin became more complicated and compatibility of the meds with each other needed my attention. Drug co-pays increased. Some drugs had to be taken before bed or first thing in the morning on an empty stomach 45 minutes before anything else, or 30 minutes before lying down, 2 hours after certain other drugs, never with pain killers or antacids or magnesium in any form. Heart meds are especially sensitive. My solutions? I have plastic oblong containers separated by initialed days of the week and by morning pills and evening pills. I put 3 weeks of meds together at one time. It takes about 45 minutes to do that, but besides scheduling and not forgetting any or wondering if I took something or not, it warns me when to reorder so as not to run out of anything especially on a holiday or if ordering by mail.
I discovered that I could not exercise on my own even if I joined a fitness center. I needed a physical trainer for several reasons:
- I didn’t know what exercises to do.
- If I had a trainer, I knew that I would show up for the session.
- I knew that working with weights and equipment could be dangerous and a trainer prevents my getting hurt.
- A PT isn’t expensive. Often less than many meds and prescriptions co-pays. Certainly less than a heart attack.
In the 15 years I’ve worked with trainers, John was the first for 6 years, then Paul for 6 years and Jim (current trainer) for 3 years. When I started out, I couldn’t do 1 push-up. Now I can do 100. I work out with 6 to 10 others, both men and women. I am, by far, the oldest. We do circuits working in small groups of 2 or 3, training 3 days per week for 45 minutes to an hour. The most difficult time of the workout is 15 minutes before it starts. That’s the time when one might cancel…too tired, too cold out, too hot, too lazy. Get over it.
Four years ago at yearly checkups with my electrophysiologist and my cardiologist, they each congratulated me for reversing all heart damage from both of my heart attacks. I was told that this is rare. The consensus of medical opinions was that it was a result of exercise, the best medication.
Learn more in my new memoir: IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib