Saturday, January 5, 2013

Treadmilling to the Mississippi

During Christmas week I had my third atrial fibrillation episode while visiting my elder daughter and her family in Nashville. The last episode occurred in April 2011 while I was vacationing in Virginia, and it took about 17 hours before the doctors could get my heart back in rhythm.

With the most recent episode, I was better prepared. For the last 21 months I have been carrying three pills around with me at all times. My instructions were to take these pills in the event of another episode. The pills worked. My heart was back in rhythm before I could awaken Evelyn and she could get dressed to drive me to the emergency room. We went to the emergency room at St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville anyway. They monitored me for a couple of hours and sent me home. I visited my cardiologist this week, and he lowered my anxiety about these episodes. The fact that all of my occurrences have been in the middle of the night means that the episodes are not caused by stress. The beta blocker that I have been taking will continue for a while (at half the original dose), but it may not be necessary. The doctor is happy to have me carry around my three pills and use them whenever I might have another episode, and I don’t have to go to the emergency room unless the atrial fibrillation continues for more than 12 hours after I take my “magic pills.” He gave me an ongoing prescription for the pills and wants to see me semi-annually.

Such experiences always seem to stir up interest in improving your heart-health, which generally means getting more exercise. So, I’ve made a New Year’s resolution; and I’ve decided the best way to keep that resolution is to go “public” and maintain accountability to achieving my health goals. So here’s what I have decided as my plan this year. We’ve had a treadmill for a while, and I use it only occasionally. I decided to set a goal for using my treadmill regularly, and that plan is to walk the equivalent of following I-40 from Dandridge to the Mississippi River in Memphis this year. This week I’ve already walked the equivalence of going from my house to I-40 at Exit 415. Today I’m am about a mile from the Deep Springs exit at mile marker 412. I’ll be giving updates on Facebook as I “pass” various points of interest along the way. I hope you will help me maintain my accountability. If you don’t see an update of my progress for a spell, ask me how I’m doing. I’m determined to improve my overall health through exercise.

I expect that I might make it to Memphis before the end of the year. If I do, I’ll add on Dandridge to the North Carolina state line on I-40. If I can make that this year, next year I may set my goal of walking I-40 from one end of North Carolina to the other. If I can keep this up, my ultimate goal will be to follow I-40 all the way across the USA. Want to join me in this endeavor and make this a mutual exercise plan?

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