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jadillow (@jadillow)

Need advice with heart issues

Heart Rhythm Conditions | Last Active: Jun 1, 2019 | Replies (69)

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I like your term, Catmom…'the helpless victim role'. That is exactly how I felt for most of the 2 years I suffered from barely controlled Afib. It was the drug, Sotalol at the highest dose possibly that made me feel weak and exhausted. Without it, of course, I would have been in constant Afib. The cardiologist said that the drug itself at such a high dose could cause 'heart block'. Strangely enough this didn't worry me…maybe because I was fairly young with kids still at home and figured it would never happen to me.
I only learned the valuable lesson of abandoning the 'helpless victim role' when I pulled myself up by the bootstraps and took charge of my own health. No more…'Yes, doctor. Whatever you say, doctor.". There was no internet then so I spent time in the library researching and reading books. According to a book on heart conditions in women, I first tried estrogen therapy….which I convinced my doctor to prescribe…although I was far from menopause. It worked! The very hard to control Afib stopped and I got (slowly) off the beta blocker. Not only did I feel well again, I felt like I had single handedly slayed a dragon. I felt empowered! It was an important life lesson. But the gynaecologist insisted I take progesterone with the estrogen because one must not take 'unopposed estrogen'. The Afib returned but it could be controlled with half the dose. Still, with that surge of success, I realized I needed to be stronger than I had ever been if I wanted to have my old self back with a renewed independence.
Still undeterred, I continued my research and read that aerobic exercise could strengthen and steady the heart. As you know, I joined a gym and went on the treadmill every day but Sunday for 35 minutes for 4 months. Inside a month, I was totally off the beta blockers. For the sake of anyone new reading this, the cardiologist said that it was not possible to 'cure' Afib and that I would soon be back on beta blockers. Here I am 24 years later at age 70…and but for a 2 day bout last year of blips during a period of stress, I have been fine. As you know, I avoid like the plague ANY and ALL stimulants. (coffee, tea, chocolate, alcohol, ephedrine in dental drugs or decongestants etc..).
If I could give anyone advice, it would be to beware of falling into the 'helpless victim' trap. It can feel like a safe and secure place, withdrawing from the world because one is too 'sick'. I urge anyone who feels the lure of helplessness, to fight against it; to look outward instead of inward; to adjust one's focus on others and what one can do to contribute to the world.
Because I learned to take charge of my Afib , I applied it to other areas of my life. As we age, we all have our crosses to bear. I happen to suffer from recurrent UTIs and have had to take many, many rounds of antibiotics which destroy the gut biome where 80% of the immune system resides. Again, through my own research, trial and error and visiting 4 specialists for their input and consulting with a naturopath, it has been an uphill battle, often discouraging, but I finally beat the UTIs.. Had I known at the beginning what I know now…
And again, as in my battle with Afib I am 'the master of my fate and captain of my soul'. Invictus! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invictus

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I have found that exercise helps me too, in all kinds of ways, from steadying my heart rate to helping me feel better and lifting my mood.

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