Tag Archives: health

Rest (From the Weekly Friday 5)

Pan Pacific Bed

Hello! This year’s first entry into this blog regards questions surrounding “rest”.  The questions are featured in “Scrivener’s Friday 5” weekly blog. I usually answer those questions on my “Friday 5 Answers” blog but decided to cross post here as “rest” is also a health issue. Many times we don’t get enough rest, but when we have to we need to rest.

Here are the questions and answers to this week’s Friday 5 topic “rest”.

1. When did you last need a few days of complete rest and nothing else?

Last year I needed a lot of rest while recovering from open heart surgery. I had to slowly ramp myself up back to life by eating healthier and walking more. Today I can say that I am happy to be alive with a new lease on life.

2. How do you keep yourself occupied when you have to be in bed all day and night?

The internet always keeps me occupied whether I am in bed or not. I do use it a lot if I am confined to bed. Luckily we have many ways to access the net beyond desktop and laptop computers. Smart phones and tablets makes it easy to consume internet content while in bed. I tend to read a lot of news websites, tech blogs, do some book reading on Kindle and Google Play books, listening to music, podcasts, audio books and watching videos. There are always the old school standbys such as TV (which I currently don’t have), books, magazines, newspapers, and audio media (record player, CDs, radio). With all that stuff accessible to us who has time to rest? Fortunately some of it actually helps me to fall asleep… anyone for Enya?

Other than consuming media, there is the necessity of food consumption and yes, rest too!

3. Who do you most want to hear from when you have to withdraw to your bed for a few days of rest?

It is tough being a single person when you are down and out and need rest. As a single person you still have to do a lot of core things yourself like eating, cleaning up, shopping, etc. which forces you to get out of bed even if you may have to stay there. So hats off to those individuals who have a reliable and loving spouse, room mate or companion. That all said singles like myself sometimes have to rely on friends or relatives for help, especially if your parents have gone to the great beyond.

4. What adverse effects have you experienced while staying in bed for a few days?

It would depend on the reasons why bed rest was required. The following examples come to mind:

Flu – fever, run, vomiting, tummy aches, feeling lousy, coughing

Heart surgery – pain, weakness, lack of movement, constant sleep interruption while hospitalized, lack of privacy, noise, slow recovery, relapse, coughing, grumpiness, dreariness, etc.

5. When you first notice a few symptoms, are you more likely to shut everything down right away, or try to power through until you don’t have a choice anymore?

Always usually power through until I can’t take it… then boom! Stuck in bed.

December 26th @ 366

A life milestone at 366 days

Today marks a year since my heart attack.

I reached a major milestone today. This is Day #366 since I suffered a heart attack a year ago last December 26. Early that morning at Ala Moana Beach Park I had just started my short walk when I felt the slight pain, definite congestion and hobbling pace. Something was wrong as I turned around and headed back for my car and eventually to the hospital that led up to major bypass surgery. Those events are recounted in earlier entries to this blog.

December 26, 2016: This morning I returned to Ala Moana Beach Park / Magic Island to take the walk that I did not complete a year ago. It was my way to quietly celebrate the milestone of life which would have probably ended if I did not make the right decisions last year. Today I reflect and count my blessings that I am still here on Earth, doing what I like to do and trying my best to cope with my improved but still challenging situation.

My health is good. I can walk, talk, eat, drink (water mostly), drive and do all of the other things that I can or love to do. I have changed my eating habits and try to walk at least 2 miles every day. I lost more than 30 pounds since last year and have had to down size my clothes and the clutter of my living condition.

I could not have gotten to where I am by myself.

First of all I’d like to thank my doctors and nurses who helped me live and overcome much of the trauma associated with major heart surgery and the long road to recovery. Special thanks to Dr. Steven M. Kramer at Kaiser Permanente who has been the patient and understanding physician in my life for the past 4 years. He recently left his general practice to move on to specialized care for senior citizens.

Lisa Davidson is my close friend who has championed not only the changes I made for my health but also encouraging me to try new things in life. Early on I was not very kind to her as we had a falling out shortly after my surgery. But time healed and I am happy to have her back in my life again as a lifelong friend. Today we are both there for each other to help us overcome many of life’s challenges and struggles. Lisa is a very talented writer and creative type that is looking for a new professional opportunity in which she can once again spread her wings to “change the world”.

Then there is Jerry Stanfield, my good friend who I met many years ago through an association we had while working for the non-profit, but now defunct Small Business Hawaii organization and the Hawaii State Legislature. Over the years Jerry and I have become good friends due to our sharing of many common interests such as photography, computers, music, history and aviation.

Jerry who moved to Costa Rica about 2 years ago went out of his way to come back to Hawaii and help care for me the 2nd month that I was out of the hospital. He encouraged me to keep to the walking regimen and helped build my independence. In return I always help him with his computer and other tech questions. Today Jerry is back in Costa Rica enjoying his retired life there after spending more than 50 years in Hawaii.

Last but not least is my sister Sandra Ah Ching. She has had to put up with me a lot over the past year. Sandra arrived in Honolulu on January 5, 2016, the day that I was discharged from the hospital.

There is a lot that I could and should write about the care that Sandra gave to me for that first month and later on 2 return trips to Honolulu. She is sometimes misunderstood, but definitely has nothing but good intentions for other people in her life.

During my month-long period of early recovery, Sandra did a ton of stuff for me. The first few weeks after my release from the hospital, I could barely do the routine stuff. Sandra was there to do it all for me — grocery shopping, some cooking, driving the car, assisting me in getting dressed, tending to my surgical wounds, helping me with my medications, the bathroom and propping me up in bed. She encouraged me to walk the first feeble, painful steps after surgery. She encouraged me to “cough through the pain” because that was good for me. Fact is to this very day, she encourages me often to go the extra mile, to push it to the next step even though I can be the stubborn, reluctant person to some of those changes.

At the same time during the month of January, Sandra also managed to help me get my cluttered home life into gear. You see, after surgery I had to stay for more than a month at the Pagoda Hotel in Honolulu which I live nearby. My condo was a huge mess and had to be cleaned up. — too much clutter. I was forbidden to go there in my weak, vulnerable, post-surgical state.

She took charge of the clutter extraction at the apartment with the help of an organizational company we hired and later with contractors to fix the place up. What she helped me with is beyond words and the story for a possible, separate blog entry.

So in addition to helping me recover with my health, she also had to be “clutter buster” and then later “organizational manager”; the latter task of which she loves to do.

In time I was able to move back into my apartment, regain my health and reach a point to where I could once again live independently and alone as I have been for most of my life. She and later Jerry were instrumental in getting me there.

Today I am grateful to have a very supportive sister like Sandra and close friends like Lisa and Jerry who have gone out of their way to help me. I also want to thank my other friends who helped me in their own way — Daniel and Emma, Moses and Lesley, my Big Island O’hana and those on Facebook who offered words of support and encouragement through this process.

The bottom line is this: Recovery from major surgery is not something you can do by yourself. It takes the help of very dedicated people from within your pool of family or friends to aid in your recovery. People with large families will have no problem with this. For single people like myself, it is important to have a family member or a pool of close friends who can offer help in time of need. Their assistance is invaluable.

Today with God’s blessing, I hope to be around for many years to come as I start another new year of my new life. It will be an interesting one with even more challenges ahead.

Hopefully with this entry, I will be inspired once more to kick start this blog and offer a posting at more regular intervals.

Aloha and God Bless You All.

 

The Friday 5: Food Pyramid

The following post appears in my weekly Friday 5 Answers blog from questions posted every Friday at Scrivener’s Friday 5 blog, now in its tenth year.

Food collage

Trying to eat healthy.

Friday 5 for July 8: Food Pyramid

“Hello, and welcome to this week’s Friday 5!  Please copy these questions to your webspace.  Answer the questions there; then leave a comment below so we’ll all know where to check out your responses.  Please don’t forget to link us from your website!”

I premise answering this by stating that I have had to cut back on a lot of different types of food since I had heart bypass surgery. And since this blog entry is about health, I am also cross posting it to my Bypass Avenue blog. I had to change my lifestyle as to not eat out very often, especially at plate lunch places and other fast food restaurants. For most of my life I was a junk food junkie until it almost cancelled out my entire existence.

1. What constituted your most recent six to eleven servings of bread, cereal, rice, or pasta?

Recently Cheerios cereal but also Corn Chex, Rice Chex and Quaker Oats oatmeal. Multigrain bread, English Muffins, Minimal scoop per meal (not always since I had to cut back) of brown rice.

2. What constituted your most recent three to five servings of vegetables?

Eat a lot of veggies every day. Most recently – Onions, Zucchini, Broccoli, Bell Peppers, Mushrooms, Carrots, Tomatoes, Cucumber, Manoa Lettuce – Eat most just raw/fresh, other times cook with protein food such as fish or chicken, or just boil / steam them – like broccoli and carrots.

3. What constituted your most recent two to four servings of fruit?

Strawberries, Kiwi Fruit, Orange, Banana

4. What constituted your most recent two to three servings of yogurt, milk, or cheese?

2% Low Fat Milk or Skim Milk. Avoid cheese.

5. What constituted your most recent two to three servings of meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, or nuts?

Salmon, Saba Fish, Ahi so far this week. Salmon is my favorite. I like nuts but can’t eat them all the time.

By the way – Pepper is the new salt!

What to Expect After Heart Bypass Surgery — Part 2

A cell phone, notebook, pen, thermometer, pill organizer, blood pressure machine and a pulse oximeter are among the thing I regularly use.

A cell phone, notebook, pen, pill cutter, thermometer, pill organizer, blood pressure machine and a pulse oximeter are among the things I regularly use.

Today (June 26) marks my 6 month anniversary date since my heart attack on December 26. After surgery life has been mostly good. I have made adjustments and learned to get used to them.

It’s been a few weeks since the last substantial post and this entry to this blog.  This entry is the continuation of the first part of this series “What to Expect After Heart Bypass Surgery“.

The immediate time after my release from the hospital is well documented in this blog. In this part the discussion focuses on things regarding the longer term.

Years of consuming fast foods contributed to my heart disease.

Years of consuming fast foods contributed to my heart disease.

MEALTIME: One of the first things all bypass patients have to do is make changes to their diet. For me, this was major.

For most of my life I was more or less a “junk food junkie”, which meant eating out a lot to buying and choosing fast / convenience foods nearly all of the time. While I have some minimal cooking skills, for the most part it was easier to get a take out meal or something “instant” that could be popped into the microwave. I did this for years… decades… likely from the time I was in college…. The Bee Gees and disco was a big thing then. That was long ago.

Over time all of the salt, fat, cholesterol and God knows what else built up in my system. On December 26 my body revolted. I had a heart attack.

Today I mostly eat simple home cooked foods such as fish, an occasional chicken (skinless, boneless, white meat recommended), toast, broccoli with raw vegetables and fruit. I usually prepare the cooked foods with the microwave oven or steam sautéing in a shallow pan. No oil, just water.

For breakfast I eat at least one orange a day if possible and other raw fruits such as strawberries, apples, bananas and grapes. Fruits are a good substitute for sweets such as candy and baked desserts.

I used to eat at McDonalds, Burger King, Jack in the Box and a slew of other fast food restaurants. Most of those are mostly out. I recall stopping at McDonald’s only once or twice this year, and both times I got a small side salad that I used the contents for a home made sandwich.

Flowers

Nature’s small daily gifts can be better appreciated while you are on a walk.

EXERCISE: One of the hardest things for me to do is exercise. As a non-athlete and someone who hated participatory sports, exercise is something I totally avoided.

I had to change that so for the time being I’ve taken up walking. This is something that I have been doing off and on since at least 1997. I now have to put more effort into it.

I walk about a mile or two a day. I never officially measured the mileage. I do measure the time that I walk which on the low end is 30 minutes and 90 minutes on the higher end.

Shortly after being released from the hospital, I could barely walk 10 to 20 feet without running out of breath. This is normal. When you first start walking it will be difficult. Walks will be slow and short. If you keep pushing yourself, the distance that you cover will improve in time.

My walking distance gradually increased from 20 feet a session to at least one block a day or several times around the inside of the nearby WalMart Store. After that I was walking from my apartment building near Don Quijote to Ala Moana Beach Park, Magic Island and more.

Walking to the Magic Island / Ala Moana Beach Park area is one of my favorite walks. Other times I enjoy walking along the Ala Wai Canal area or walking to either Waikiki Beach or the other way to the Blaisdell Center complex. You can see a lot of things while walking. It is a good idea to take at least your smart phone or a small camera to take a picture of any interesting along the way.

MEDICATIONS: Once you are out of the hospital trying to make sense out of the many medications you may be required to take can be confusing. However it is best to take the medications requirements in stride and learn how to manage your times and dosages as fast as you can. Your medications will be with you for the rest of your life.

What medications heart patients are required to take differ among every individual. There is no point in telling you what I take because what you take may be something entirely different.

That all said, some of the best things to remember regarding medications are the following:

  • Take them diligently and on time in the prescribed amounts.
  • Do not take more than what is prescribed.
  • If you miss taking your medication at a prescribed time, consult your physician or health care provider for advice on follow-up.
  • Follow instructions on the medication’s container.
  • Get a pill organizer if most of your medications are in tablet or capsule form.
  • Get to know the names and dosages of each medication.
  • Order them well ahead of time when supplies begin to run low.

Last but not least, use common sense and keep medications away from children and other adults who are not authorized to use them.

MEDICAL EQUIPMENT: Having some of your own medical equipment is a nice thing to do. Monitoring your health with the following items keeps you informed on a timely basis:

  • Thermometer: For taking your temperature.
  • Bathroom Scale: Keeping track of your weight.
  • Pulse Oximeter: Measure your heartbeat.
  • Syphgmomanometer (Blood Pressure Monitor): Monitor your blood pressure
  • Spirometer: Measures air capacity of your lungs
  • Pill Organizer: For organizing your medications
  • Logbook: A small tablet where you can keep track of your day to day activities such a meals eaten, medications taken, appointments and places you walked to.

I’ll write about some of these tools and devices in an upcoming entry.

DOCTOR VISITS: You will have several follow-up visits with your primary care physician as well as those doctors and specialists who got you through the surgical process. In the long run however, you will mostly consult with your primary care physician who will refer you to a specialist as needed.

It is important to maintain a schedule of regular follow-up visits with your doctor.

HOME CARE: Last but not least, the most important thing that you can have as a new heart bypass patient is a good home care network or persons. In most cases, the heart bypass patient will rely on a spouse, adult child, parent, friend, sibling or relative.

Having someone help with your home care for at least the first 4 to 8 weeks is invaluable. When you are released from the hospital there will be a lot of things that you won’t be able to do. Things that we take for granted like walking, changing your clothes, taking a shower, using the toilet, following up with your medications and doctor visits, and a while lot more will be much easier if there is someone helping you nearly every day. Driving is also out of the question as doctors recommend against it so that you are able to heal properly in the chest area.

This person (like my sister Sandra) should be accommodating to your needs yet be firm and focused. Your home care person is not there to be your mother so don’t expect to be “babied” by them. A good home care person will not only help you but also encourage you to become more independent.

As time goes the new heart bypass patient will ultimately become more independent, cooking their own meals, walking farther each day, driving again and in time lead back to a hopeful and healthy normal life.


If I left something out, let me know in the comments below or drop me an email: macpro3000@yahoo.com.