Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Recovery Mode

Recovery from a heart attack is easier than it sounds. Diet, exercise, medication, and of course talking about our experience are mandatory for the full recovery of a heart attack. This is how I recovered.
Heart patients are often put on a low salt diet; some are put on a low cholesterol and low fat diet as well. I got the low salt and low fat diet and my first reaction was how am I going to live without my potato chips? I eat chips with less salt on them but I limit myself to the recommend serving these days and when I try to eat the brand of chips I used to eat, they are way to salty.
It was only the first few days on the low salt diet, that I thought food was bland. Never been a big fan of prepared foods anyway it was easy to get away from them, and trust me the sodium level is high in many of those items. I cook from scratch most of the time and I do not add salt.
Mrs. Dash has several great brands of seasoning mixes so I sprinkle some on skinless chicken breast or a small piece of pork with no fat on it. Gone are packaged seasoning mixes and those mixes you put on chicken or pork. The sodium level is huge per serving.
Sea salt, which is often recommended for heart patients, is tasty but the sodium levels are equal to regular salt. Compare labels side-by-side next time you visit a store and you will see this.
Fried foods were also something I was never a huge fan of, but I did love fish fry. Now the comfort food is off limits to me the way I love it, so I chose not to eat it. Instead, I make fish at home and it does not sit in oil.
I admit before my heart attacks I thought very little about exercise. I took the elevator because it was easier. I did not take the time a few days a week to walk out around town. Instead, I sat for hours writing which is my work, and only getting up to take a bathroom break. I would walk to grab something from the convenience store.
Housework occurred as needed but laundry occurred once a week or the kids did it. My washer is in the cellar and well it was a pain in the butt climbing the steps daily.
Laundry occurs a few times a week now days but I do the bulk of it. Sometimes I will leave baskets of clean clothes and have the kids bring them up. I now make sure I only sit for an hour and then get up for some exercise.
When the weather is nice, I walk to work or around the town. I love to walk over to the river, sit on the benches, and think.
I do what I can, if I get tired out I rest. Right after my heart attacks family were scared to let me do things.
MY advice for family members and friends: Do not baby a heart attack survivor; allow us to do what we can. Trust me we will not over do it soon after an attack because the pain is too fresh in our minds.
Simple, if your doctor prescribes it, take it. After my heart attacks, the doctor prescribed me a blood pressure pill, a pill to lower my cholesterol and an aspirin a day. The blood pressure pill kicked my butt, I'd take it and be asleep with an hour, or so which really limited my production. However, as time wore on my body adjusted to the medication and I was fine.
Counseling and Support
I so wish there was a Heart Attack Recovery support group as there as for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts. I would proudly stand up and say 'My name is Amy and I am a survivor'. The best I can do is talk to people who have experienced a MI (Myocardial Infarction) as I did.
For only survivors such as my boyfriend Jay and my brother in law Willie know what I have been through. They understand the pain, the fear and the anger of it all, where most people cannot begin to understand.
Talking out the feelings you have concerning the heart attacks is great as it helps to relieve the stress and apprehension associated with it. It's through talking with other survivors that we begin to realize we are not alone. We also realize through talking with others just how family, friends, and others treat us once we have a heart attack.

Healthy Chicken Soup

Regular chicken noodle soup is off limits to people on a low salt diet because of the sodium levels. Even the healthier versions have too much sodium, cholesterol, or fat. That is not good for your heart or waistline either.

A healthy alternative to those prepared canned of soup is to make your own. It is far easier than one might think. I grew up eating homemade soups, I just got lazy when my children came along and used the canned crap they sell in the stores. After experiencing three heart attacks with four days, I went back to cooking homemade, as my parents had shown me.
To create a healthy alternative to the canned chicken noodle varieties you simply need is chicken, and noodles and a few shakes of Mrs. Dash. When I create mine I like to add frozen carrots, onions and once in a great while I will add some chopped celery.
I simply take a pan and add water. The amount f water really depends upon how much homemade chicken noodle soup you are going to make. I usually add four cups of water, two legs of skinless chicken, a quarter cup of chopped onion, 1 cup of frozen carrots and a few cups of dried low cholesterol noodles to the mixture when its time.
I allow the chicken and an onion to cook in the water until the chicken is done. Then I pull out the chicken, debone it, and add it back into the pan with the frozen carrots. Once the carrots are almost soft I will add in the noodles. Sprinkle in some of the Mrs. Dash to taste and you have a delicious pot of homemade chicken noodle soup.
The beauty of this simple recipe is the varieties are endless. Add turkey, beef, or even lean ground hamburger instead of the chicken. Have homemade chicken noodle soup with peas or green beans instead of carrots. You can also choose to use macaroni, wheels or another pasta product rather than the egg noodles.
If you want a cream based soup, boil a handful peeled potatoes. Use a masher to break them into smaller pieces right in the pan. Don't dump the water, instead add in a cup of 2% milk, and thicken it with mashed potatoes flakes. Add only enough flakes to get the right consistency, as you are not making mashed potatoes. Add in cooked turkey bacon or some cooked lean meat and vegetables if desired.
Skip the traditional soup seasonings and go with Mrs. Dash for a heart healthy homemade soup.

Starting at the beginning

I am living a much healthier life since I had a few heart attacks back in October of 2009.  I thought I was too young to have a heart attack, boy was I ever wrong.

You are never too young to have one. I turned 43 in mid September of 2009 and had my first mild heart attack 2 weeks later. Two days later I had two more heart attacks.  I drastically changed my lifestyle for the better but it still took me a long time to get healthy again.

What did I change my lifestyle? I have children and grandchildren and I wish to be here for them.  Besides, at that time I had not accomplished my big goals in life. Now I have accomplished some of them, yet I wish to do more, and certainly experience more of this joyful thing called living.

I will include tips, tricks and lessons learned here on this blog. Together we all can remain healthy and heart attack free.