Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Weekly Weigh In

So we basically gorged ourselves on Saturday night at a restaurant called Taverna Plaka. It's a small greek family-style restaurant. There were 8 of us but we sounded like 20. The food was great and our Phriend Phillip had to stand on the table and do a shot of Ouzo to celebrate his birthday while the wait-staff threw napkins at him. Needless to say, we ate and ate and ate. I really wanted to get in a morning run on Sunday, but 3 hours sleep wasn't cutting it.

In rehab yesterday, I managed to lose another lb on their scale (202). That's 11 so far. On the home scale, I stayed at a flat 200. But this morning (and I don't usually weigh myself more than once a week at home) I was 198.5. Moving ever closer to my ideal weight.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Rain in Hillanta

In spite of the fact that I've lost 10 lbs and resolved to not eat a lot of bad food while I'm here, I find it necessary to get in a few extra runs to take care of the few extra calories I've taken on since arriving in Atlanta. Rachel and I went out this morning. A light mist saturated a 54 degree air temp as we stepped out the door. Perfect for me. Not so much for Rachel. We ran the same course as yesterday and the hills challenged me more today...no salsa in sight. We went just under 5 miles in just over 10 minute miles.

Now, as I sit here during nap time, the sun is out and the temp jumped to 60 something. I think about the possibility of a two-a-day...and getting in another quick run. Too bad I ate lunch just an hour ago. I won't suffer that lesson more than once on this trip. I'll wait for the morning, assuming I can get up after tonight's festivities.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Forget Hotlanta or Phatlanta. Our friends and some of our family live in Hillanta...at least from the perspective of a runner. I lived in Atlanta for 4 years and really learned to run well there. But it's been a long time since I tackled the hills of Dunwoody and never while under the 165 bpm heart limit. I went for a run this afternoon with by Brother In Law, Steven.

I've known Steven since the 5th grade. And, if you're paying attention, you'll realize that I must have also known Rachel that long since she's his sister. In spite of that, she married me anyway.

Steven and I have always competed with each other. Video games, running, various sports....even resting heart rates. In fact, while in the ED during my heart attack, my resting heart rate got down to 46 bpm. I took a picture of the monitor reading and emailed it to him. I figure I pretty much have that competition wrapped up. Now we compete over running accomplishments, cholesterol levels and who has more hair. (I think I still win those 3, though he is training for his first marathon now.)

Anyway, he and I set out for a run and I worried that I would slow him down. A limited heart rate does not mix well with hills. However, the only thing that actually slowed me down was the spicy salsa we had at lunch about 2 1/2 hours before. The more I ran, the more my stomach hurt. My heart rate never had a chance to max out. In the end, we ran 5.6 in just 10:00 min averages. Mental note...allow more time between running and eating Moe's for lunch.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Treadmill goals

The treadmill is boring. But for the past 10 weeks, it has been my guide rope to get back to my normal life. Once I started running on the treadmill, I set a goal for myself to run farther each time in the allotted 17 minutes. Today, I broke two records. Today, I ran an 8:02 first mile. I also ran 2.01 miles in 17 minutes. With only 6 visits left, I did about the best I can do without getting my heart rate up too high. In short, I hit my goals.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Weekly weight up date

I weighed in at home this morning. 200. My rehab weigh in was 203. So I lost a lb on the rehab scale and stayed the same on the home scale. To make it more confusing, I've lost 10 lbs on the rehab scale and only 8 on the home scale. WTF?

This one is not about me!

I want to extend a pat on the back to Derek. I mentioned him early on in this series of events only strung together by a single cardiac event. Derek's illness already had its grips on him for about a year when I met him in rehab. He's 43 and a former runner. He had a pace maker put in and started rehab just a few weeks before me. After a lot of hard work, Derek ran today for the first time since he got sick. He looked happy on the treadmill. I wanted to give him a shout out on this medium and a pat on the back for his accomplishment. Way to go Derek. I'm always rooting for you.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Going Solo

Today, I had a much anticipated return to solo running. I went out this morning at banged out 6 miles in just under an hour. My heart rate peaked at 172 while ascending the hill on Broad leading to Target and again when running up Morningside drive. Those hills have always posed challenges at one point or another but I never had to pay such close attention before. Tomorrow is my weekly home weigh in. Though I didn't make the best food choices on Friday or on Saturday night, I hope to be below 200 lbs.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Wrapping it up

I'm in the last 10 prescribed rehab visits. The workout is quite routine. Treadmill for 25, leg bike for 10, rower for 10 and the weights. As I work my way towards my final visit, I'm focusing on outdoor running over the weekend and better eating and continued weight loss. Today, though, Pat asked me when I'm going to work on stress reduction. She knows I'm a type A. She said she plans to work there for 5 or 6 more years and she doesn't want to see me back there as a patient again. She said I clearly have alot going on and I need to learn to change my perspective on some things and learn to react to others in a more reasonable manner. I told her that I have worked on quite a bit but recognized I had a long way to go. I told her our Rabbi is visiting us in about a week and a half to talk to Rachel and I about how to make our relationship with ourselves, each other and our kids more manageable and enjoyable. She got me thinking. Maybe I'm not doing enough. After all, a woman who spends 30 minutes with me a week seems to recognize that I have disproportionate reactions to things. Guess I have more work to do.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Follow-up Visit

I saw Doctor Newton today as a follow-up from last week's episode. He expressed great pleasure over my recovery. He wants to run an NMR lipid profile which is a regular cholesterol test on steroids. Where a normal cholesterol test measures the volume of cholesterol, the NMR profile looks at the particle sizes of the cholesterol. There are 3 sizes and the test is able to enumerate the amount of each size particle a person has in their blood. Comparing the normal test to the NMR test, Dr Newton said it's like going from a 10 power microscope to a 1000 power microscope. I have to go to Labcorp and have my blood drawn, which is my least favorite thing in the world. But it's for a good reason so no complaining.

He asked me if I'm running and encouraged me to enter the Ukrops 10k. He asked when marathon training starts. I told him mid-July. He said he wants to run a Stress Cardiolite test on me before I start the training. This is a different type of stress test. It's administered mostly in the same fashion my other stress tests were administered. The difference is I will have an IV and they will pump me full of nuclear solution and take pictures with a different kind of camera. Dr. Newton said this test can pick up very tiny irregularities in my blood flow. Though he doesn't expect to find any problems, this test will give me the clearance to do the marathons I missed last season and so eagerly await.

The appointment ran long so I got to rehab with just enough time to run. I didn't go as fast or as far today, but I still had a good run. I only have 10 visits left. Then I'm on my own. I said in an older post I'll probably continue to go there 2 nights a week until the winter is over. By then, I should be back to 4:00 am runs.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Coming Along

Today's rehab session was awesome. I'm running, lifting weights, doing ab work...it's great and it keeps me disciplined. Thanks to Pam, the Nutritionist, I'm on a solid eating plan and have already lost 6 pounds. I feel good and I'm glad to be getting back to normal. Today during the run, I had the treadmill up to 7.5 mph and I ran an 8:32 mile. My heart rate got up over 165 so I couldn't maintain that speed and be in compliance of the program so I backed down. Still, I have a 17 minute window of opportunity to run each visit and I see how far I can go in that 17 minutes. I've gone from 1 mile to 1.71 to 1.88 to 1.96 (today). Trying to hit the 2 mile mark while maintaining my max heart rate.

Ed increased the weight on the strength training. I now do leg presses, lat pull dows, tricep pull downs and bench pressing on a machine. We started with a light weight and he's agreed to increase it as needed. I also do some dumbbell work and several minutes of crunches. It's a good work out but I realized that today is my 25th visit out of a prescribed 36. I'm allowed to stay on after the prescribed visit, but the place is getting busy and I might end up taking up a machine that someone else needs to use. We'll see how the next few weeks go. I thought about backing down to 2 days per week instead of 3. Especially if I'll be running outside again. Who knows. Right now, I just try to get every ounce of workout squeezed out of about an hour or so 3 times a week.

TOday, I'm starting a weight check. I weigh in every visit at rehab, but I'm heavier on their scale than the home scale. So I'll continue to weigh in there 3 times per week and weigh in at home on Mondays. I peaked at 213 on their scale and 207 on ours. Today, I'm at 207 on theirs and 201.5 on ours. Keeping track should keep me on track.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


31,680 feet. 105.6 football fields. 380,160 inches. 6 miles. However you slice it, that's the distance we ran on my first "authorized" outside run. Ed told me to keep the heart rate target at 165 bpm. That made hills tough, causing us to either walk or run very slowly. With the sun to our back and the wind to our fronts, Rachel and I set out at 10:45 this morning and ran the hood. We did a 5 minute warm-up walk and then a solid 6 mile run. Again, in order to maintain the accptable heart rate, we had to walk up parts of a few hills that slowed our pace to 11:00 per mile. Looking forward to the next chance to run outdoors.

Friday, January 9, 2009

An Invaluable Team

Since the first day of rehab, I've really viewed Ed, Pat, Adelle and Alese as a recovery and support team. They're giving me the limits and the workouts and I make the best of them. They monitor me, ask me questions and make sure I'm always moving towards the correct goal. I'm truly thankful for all they've provided so far. Especially today.

I brought in the Caudet packaging and showed it to Ed. He said the drug was not for what I was told. He asked what I'm taking now. I told him Caudet and Lipitor. He asked what happened to the Plavix. I told him Plavix is combined with the other drug in Caduet. He disagreed. We looked at the literature. Sure enough, Caduet was a combination of Lipitor and a 2nd medicine. Not Plavix. Either I heard Dr Newton incorrectly, or he told me incorrectly. I'll never know for sure. I'm certain he said the new drug would reduce vasodialation. Ed and Pat disputed that. But I can't be 100% certain he said Lipitor instead of Plavix. Nonetheless, Ed and Pat called Dr Newton's office while I was at rehab today and clarified what I should be on. I had stopped taking Plavix and took Caduet and Lipitor for 2 days. Thankfully, I mentioned it to them and they questioned it. I should be taking the Caduet and the Plavix. Fortunately, I suffered no maleffects. Thank you Pat and Ed!!!

Ed cleared me to run outside during my last visit. I plan to get one in this weekend.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Back To Normal

When I got to rehab today, I advied Ed and Pat of my unscheduled visit to Dr. Newton yesterday and the change in medicine he prescribed. They both questioned the med adjustment. I told them that I was to stop taking Plavix because Caduet had Plavix in it. They also said it had nothing to do with vasodialition. It's a calcium deposit blocker. They were confused or perhaps I was. They asked that I bring them the packaging on Friday.

The workout was normal. I am starting to run a bit father duing the treadmill sessions. I have a 5 minute warm up with a 3 minute cool down leaving me with exactly 17 minutes to run. I've increased the distance during that time from 1.71 miles to 1.82 miles. Slowly inching my way to a strong and sustainable treadmill speed.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Potential Set Back - Avoided

When I woke up this morning, I had a familiar sensation. I felt the presence of chest congestion, but I couldn't cough anything up. I noticed it as soon as I woke up. I showered, dressed and went to work. The sensation didn't let up. It seemed to worsen as I walked and ease up as I sat down.

In the days leading up to my heart attack, I experienced this sensation. No pain. Just this nagging feeling of congestion that turned out not to be congestion at all. I called Dr Newton's office before it opened and had him paged.

He called back and had me come over to his office for an EKG. It surprised me to be seen so quickly in this office about which I have had several complaints. But I was taken right back and put on an EKG. Then I waited for Dr Newton to show up and read the results. He said everything is fine. He had no concrete answers to what caused the sensation...could be the recent change in diet; the weight lifting; vasodialation of my innards...or I could have some chest congestion. He changed my medicine for 4 weeks to Caudet which is a combination of Plavix and another medicine that prevents vasodialation. I took the medicine when I returned to the office. The sensation seems to have faded somewhat.

Dr Newton said I do not need to back down the rehab workload. I scheduled a follow-up visit for next week and went on my way.

By 12:30, I felt different. The sensation faded more. I feel back to normal. Seems like the new medicine is working. Good news.

Still Going

My visit on Monday the 29th proved to be routine. I started to more closely monitor my running distance and speed throughout the run. In all, I ran 1.78 miles in 17:00. (9:33 minutes per mile). I had the treadmill up to 6.7 early and tried to complete a sub 9:00 mile (8:54). I couldn't maintain that speed and keep my heart rate within acceptable range. I backed down but still nailed a 9:33 mile. Not bad for a guy with a heart condition.

Rehab closed early on New Years Eve so I didn't come in. And, Rachel fell sick on Friday the 2nd. With nobody to watch the kids, I had to skip rehab again.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Getting Ripped?

It's getting hotter in that room. I noticed it during my last work out and again on Monday (1/5) and I was unusually tired after the workout. Pat said maintenance corrected a heating problem in the bathrooms by increasing the heat in another area. That heat just seems to waft into to the workout area and it gets uncomfortable during the runs. I ran the normal routine. Five minute warm up, 17 minute run, 3 minute cool down. Since I had not run for a week, I kept the pace moderate. I stuck at 6.5 mph. The run totaled 1.81 miles in 17 minutes (9:23 minutes per mile). I felt good with that. The rest of the workout was equally as tiring as the previous week.

Something new, though. Ed started me on weight lifting. I'm set up to do one set of several exercises to work my biceps, triceps, lats, chest and legs. I finish up with ab work. Ed said these exercises will help burn the fat down. Good thing. I lost 2 lbs since last week. I attribute this to getting sick last Saturday and not really eating, and starting a new eating plan on Sunday.

On their scale, I weigh 211. At home, I weigh 204. Usually, I only weigh myself once weekly at home. But since I have to weigh in before each workout, I'm monitoring both going forward.