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The Prize of My Sacrifices

My life has been an open book, especially after that dreaded meet and greet with Death and his scythe. I have allowed it to be, so people would be aware of their lifestyles; and make them learn from my example on how they are going to live their lives towards health.

Few months after that emergency bypass operation, I was never able to control the main culprit that made me this “known” to my colleagues. I was already in quadruple drug therapy for my lipids (ruosovastatin, ezetimibe, fenofibrate, EPA+DHA). I got back to working out two months after my surgery. I had been watching my food intake, avoiding red meat and only preferring vegetable and white meat. Aside from that, I also have problem with my heart beat rhythm hence I was maintained on amiodarone. Eleven months after the surgery, finally I saw light. Total cholesterol and triglycerides went to normal levels, although LDL (bad cholesterol) was still high for a patient who underwent a bypass operation. I was then advised to have another follow-up visit after the holidays to check the effect of christmas celebrations.

Not only did my laboratory result became abnormal and back to pre-operation level, I gained weight. The light I saw few months ago was just a glimmer. On investigation, my thyroid hormones suggested hypothyroidism leading to hypometabolism, which now explains my weight gain and abnormal lipid levels. These were the result of my anti-arrhythmic amiodarone. We had to drastically revise my medications. I had to take thyroid hormone supplementation, change amiodarone to beta-blocker bisoprolol, increase the dose of ruosovastatin and increased my workout. At first I was still having palpitations and skip beats with bisoprolol and thus dose was increased. I was supposed to undergo holter monitoring in case my arrhythmia would persist.

At 18 months after the surgery, getting depressed with all the elevations of my lipids, weight gain, I decided to make a drastic change in my diet. I dropped meat and went quasi-vegetarian (having chicken or fish once a week). It was a very difficult lifestyle change as I easily get hungry, forcing me to have a lot of snacks, sometimes taking pastries (which I should also be avoiding; not that I have high blood sugar, but then simple sugars have been identified as one culprit in causing chronic inflammation of the blood vessels trapping cholesterols and forming a plaque, even if your cholesterol level is not necessarily high). Being a residency training officer of the department of Pediatrics at SLU-HSH, I decided to quit the post while maintaining the post as head of breastfeeding committee and neonatal services unit of the same hospital.

Then having been a Zumba enthusiast, I went on training and earned my license to be an instructor. Having kept this diet, exercise and religious medication, I had my follow-up on my 20th month after the surgery. Sacrifice and effort finally paid off. My total cholesterol was now down to 156.96mg/dL (from a previous of 423 the first time I found out I had elevated levels to 212 prior to my cardiac arrest). Low density lipoprotein (LDL) was now down to 92 mg/dL, and my triglyceride was still maintained below 200mg/dL at 105.32. My liver enzyme was very slightly elevated and thyroid hormone was within acceptable normal limits, bordering hypothyroid. I lost two kilograms, I can now wear my old pants and I feel a little more confident than the previous months. Because of these, my cardiologist decided to discontinue my thyroid hormone supplementation, decrease my dose of ezetimibe and lower my ruosovastatin from 40 mg to 20 mg.

Whether these changes were due to my more frequent exercise or diet restriction, or lesser stress from work, it doesn’t matter; it also means that I will have to maintain these statuses so as to keep my lipids in check. I thought I could already have the clearance to eat lechon, sigh… Well, better this than have another heart attack soon. The sacrifices paid off.

Next goal: a sculpted body? I dare myself.

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2014 in Personal

 

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My Journey To A Healthy Heart

It’s almost 6 months after my arrest and revival (December 8 2012)… (for more details on this, read my other blog “Flat Line… My Personal Account”)

November 2012

One month before the arrest, my blood test showed my total cholesterol was up at 222 and triglycerides at 350.

Jan 3, 2013

One month after I was revived, when I was only on fruits, vegetables and fish diet, my repeat blood test showed my total cholesterol was still high at 211, and my triglycerides went up to 352. It was at this point when my cardiologist asked me to resume taking my cholesterol-lowering medication. I started on atrovastatin and fenofibrate.

Jan 22, 2013

I took my post-arrest stress test. I was found out to have premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) not just in singles, but in quadruplets in a row. We surmised that this must have been the factor that lead to my arrest before. I was started on anti-arrhythmic amiodarone.

Feb 5, 2013

We checked on my liver enzymes and they were elevated as a possible side effect of the statins. My liver-protecting medications were increased and fish oil (eicosahexanoic acid and docosahexanoic acid, EPA + DHA) was added. My colleague cum friend cum cardiologist also added ezetimibe which works synergistically with both statins and fibrates in lowering the serum values. My thyroid function was also evaluated as an effect of the anti-arrhythmic. It was alright. My ECG showed widening of the QT interval thus my amiodarone was decreased.

I continued to restrict my food to merely fish, and sometimes chicken. I kept on working out. I have started this hobby of running on the treadmill.

March 12, 2013

One month again after the start of medications, my liver enzymes were still elevated. We shifted the atorvastatin now to ruosovastatin while my other medications were continued. My ECG tracing was already normal hence the amiodarone was already decreased to every other day.

May 23, 2013

I had my repeat labs done. Thyroid function and liver enzymes were A-OK, very excellent. Total cholesterol, for the very first time in my life, became normal at 185. High-density lipoprotein (HDL, good cholesterol) went up from 28 to 58. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL, bad cholesterol) decreased too from 183 to 111 (but still abnormally high). Triglycerides went down from 352 to 75.

I am just so happy and elated. I thought I will never see this day that my lipid profile will border if not fall to normal.

Previously, I made a bargain with myself. If despite all the measures I am taking and still my lipid profile will not go normal, I might as well eating foods I personally restricted myself from eating. What’s the use anyway of restricting. If my lipids will not improve, why should I deprive myself of these food. Better die soon but satiated instead of starving and yet dying soon just the same. The other compromise was, if my lipid profile will decrease to normal, then I will go on with my food restriction, medication and vigorous exercise, for life.

Now, since my values have already gone down to normal, I am now committed to living healthy – diet, exercise, and medication. For life. Here’s to celebrating the chance of having a longer life more…

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2013 in Personal

 

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