12/10/13    3,427,200 Beats and Counting - and other results

As I reported previously, my heart went into sinus rhythm on November 6th, and it has stayed that way ever since.  That means at some point today I will pass 3.5 million heartbeats with no skips, wiggles, extras, or quivering jello in the atriums.  Just 3.5 million beats sounding as steady as the beat of your favorite song.  I followed up with the cardiologist a couple weeks ago, and the look on his face as he studied my sinus EKG was as though someone had just handed him a Rubik's cube.  Some confusion, some analysis, but no real understanding.  He told me he was sure I would have gone back into Afib.  He was happy for me, but very surprised.

I can tell when I'm in Afib and not.  But I was checking my pulse about every 10 minutes for the first few weeks.  I seem to check it now about once every few days.  My goal is to take my heart for granted again.  Take that the right way as you read it........I don't want to consciously think of my heart every minute of the day.  It needs to just be there in the background, doing its job quietly.

I've been just over two months on the vegan/plant-rich diet, and I've dumped about 20-25 lbs.  It shows and my energy level has improved a lot.  I still have another 20-50 lbs to go, and I say 20 to 50 more because I don't really know what my ideal weight is.  I played professional baseball at 250 and I was massive and strong, so I am not sure if I should be around that weight or less.  I am pretty sure that eating like this is going to just end up where it wants to end up.

I had an old friend from high school visit this week and he asked me how it's been going.  We went to a restaurant last night and it was right at the freezing point.  We enjoyed the evening together and with other friends, talking stories about the good old days, and when it was time to leave, I got up and walked to the car almost as though I never had this disease.  It was actually almost bizarre.  Hands in pockets walking hasn't been synonymous with me for some time.  But because it was cold, I tried.  No problem.  Someone walked in front of me.  I dodged and weaved.  No problem.

All throughout this disease I have had good days and bad days relative to my level of disability.  I don't really know how to rate it or rank those days, but I can make a general statement that it's generally been worsening with a few slightly less bad days.  I would rate my legs at somewhere around 20-30% of normal.  I can stand, walk with difficulty (and not much stamina).  I can't jog or run, or climb stairs without holding on.  Strolling completely wipes my legs out, but walking pushing a shopping cart through a store works pretty well.  Lately I have gone through more good days and I can feel way more stability in my legs, especially when I stand without holding on to things.  I have been able to put pants on by sitting in a chair, lifting my legs into the pant holes, then standing up out of the chair to pull them up without using my hands to stabilize myself.  I've got up off the couch around 50 times without using my hands.  I walk around in the house with a lot less scuffing of the left foot from foot drop.  I can walk down stairs gingerly and slowly but without holding on to the rail (maybe a bump or a grab here and there if it doesn't feel right).

And now the latest.  I haven't written about this before because I wasn't sure what to make of it.  In April this year, I got some kind of small bug and felt like I was going to get sick.  I didn't actually take any time off work or lay around in bed, and I really didn't get the sniffles or anything.  But my voice went hoarse.  I thought it was allergies, of course, and really didn't put much into it.  I went to see a doctor at about 3 months into it, and it turned out I had a partially paralyzed left vocal chord.  Could have been the virus, could have been scar tissue from the major surgery on my neck in 2011, or it could be related to the MS.  Or there is no explanation at all.

I went all through the summer with it hoarse and scratchy, into the fall, and I went to see him again about five weeks ago.  No improvement.  The doctor literally had no suggestions for me.  I was pretty deflated.  I sat in his exam chair, I slumped over, put my head down, and wept a bit.  This second appointment was before my heart came back, and I remember thinking how is it possible for a person to get MS, a disease that isn't well understood and certainly has no medical clarity on cause, treatment or cure, then get Afib, a second disease that has no medical clarity on cause, treatment or cure, and now a third?   I just thought about how many times I've gone to a doctor in the past 7-10 years with no good news.  Sure some were great.  I have well documented the CCSVI results I've had and some others, but my god.  I'd lost most of the use of my legs, my heart was working at 65% of normal efficiency and I was at risk for stroke and/or heart attack, and now my voice is going with no explanation?  How do I run a business and negotiate with people or walk projects or discipline employees or just function like a human if I can barely walk or barely talk?  What's next?

As much as I hate to admit it, I've had many talks with myself over the past few years about whether or not I'd see my 50th birthday.  This second appointment with the throat doc got me thinking once again I have little chance of making that.  It's a tough thing to reconcile......going from a professional athlete to a crippled guy with a 65% heart and no voice isn't the best feeling.

Long story short, my voice seems to have turned the corner.  Over the past few days, talking has been less effort and I have less hoarseness in the voice.  8 months and suddenly it decides to start improving.  Three doctor visits in the past month have yielded interesting and hopeful results.  Heart is working properly for the first time in 4 years.  Legs working better.  Voice improving.

Why?  I have a dog, I'm eating plants and not animal products, I'm seeing an energy healer, and I went to my 30th high school reunion.  I think these four things have somehow conspired to turning me around.  I wrote about being more hydrated a couple posts ago, and now my mind is clearer, no morning headaches, and so on.  It feels like I have re-programmed my body to heal instead of deteriorate.

I have a business partner who is a pretty perceptive guy, more to the intangible than the tangible.  He said I'll be jogging in two years.  I have a friend I work with who is helping me stay motivated with the food choices.  He says I'll be walking normally by May.  I don't know about either prediction.  Just wanted to document them in case.  I can't rule it out at this point.