Wednesday, February 20, 2013


I checked my blog for the first time in a long time. I am glad to say that my blood pressure is back under control. I know that I seldom post anymore, but I still often think about all of the folks out there dealing with heart issues. I think I know one of the main reasons why I have slacked off. For me the more time passes the less I think about my heart. I remember in the beginning that was all I thought about. I was 46 and thought I might be dead by 50. I know anticipate the future, which for me is a very good thing. I feel so blessed. At 46 I was so close to dying, but now almost eight years later I have experienced the birth of my first two grandchildren. My wife and I are planning our dream vacation to Hawaii this Summer. Those are a couple of the good things that can happen as time passes after your surgery, but on the down side I know that I am not as vigilent about my heart as I used to be. I remember watching my dad go through the same thing. He had his CABG in 1979 at the age of 69. For a while he ate the perfect heart healthy diet, but after a while he was back to the perfect Southern fried diet. He died when he was 87 with the last three years spent in poor health, but he saw four more grandchildren come into the world and enjoyed 15 of the best years of his life.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Never Ending Struggle

I know it has been months since I have posted, but over the last few weeks I have been reminded that bypass surgery is not really a cure. Right now I am battling persistent high blood pressure. I have already had my meds changed once, but within about a month the number are sky high again. I am trying to get another appointment with my cardiologist. I remember something she said the last time I saw her. "Richard we will get your numbers down." I believe her, but that can only happen if I don't neglect my health. For the rest of my life, however long that is, I have to be vigilant. You also have to be vigilant. If you are having symptoms whatever you do don't ignore them.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Holiday Heart Attacks

Researchers have long noted a correlation between an increase in cardiac events and the Holiday season. There are many theories offered. In fact, there is an excellent article that you can find here. I found it quiet interesting that one of the main reasons for the spike is that we tend to put things off during the Holidays. Just last year I had total knee replacement surgery on December 30. It basically ruined much of the Holidays. It was the first time that we did not put up a Christmas tree. I made the decision for financial reasons. My deductible was met, but I can easily see myself putting off a nagging feeling of discomfort in my chest or some other warning sign. Is holding out for Christmas worth that being the last Christmas you will ever see.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It's Happening

When I moved back to Memphis in 2006 I had a dream. I knew that there was a role for heart bypass survivors to play in the recovery of people about to face this life changing surgery. I talked to everyone that would listen. Not many would, but you know how it is when your idea is more of a passion than anything else. Over the past five years I slowly began to meet people who had been through the surgery and felt the same way I did. I finally met the greatest cardiologist in the world, Dr. Stacy Smith. She not only became my Dr., she also became an advocate. Then it all started to really come together when Methodist Hospital began to see the important role former patients could play in the recovery of their current patients. Last night I finally got to see the video which is really a dream come true for me. You can see it here.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

My Biggest Challenge

I struggle with my weight. There, I said it. You would think that after all that I have been through I would control the one thing that I ought to have some control over. Sounds easy enough, but since my bypass I have seen my weight fluctuate a good 30 pounds. I even find myself thinking that with all the good meds that I am taking it really doesn't matter what I eat. I know that is crazy thinking, but that doesn't stop me from thinking that way. Unfortunately, food is something that seems to give me comfort, and the really comforting food might comfort, but it usually isn't very good for you. I plan to write a bit more about this, but right now I just wanted to admit that I have a problem.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Does Someone Else Live in Your House?

As I write this I am in a hospital. I started out in the emergency room thinking that they would run a few tests and tell me that all I had was indigestion. Wasn't that what I thought six years ago? Well, I am now waiting for morning to come so I can experience my forth heart cath. As you might expect my wife is worried. I don't particularly like it, but there's not much I can do. I have tried to accept that heart disease is an ongoing part of my life. A few weeks ago my wife and I heard a psychologist give a talk where he described a marriage where one member of the couple had a chronic health issue. In his words it was like another person living in the house with the couple. When he said that Tina and I just looked at each other knowing he was right. I often feel guilty that I have brought this un-welcomed visitor to live with us. It might be heart issues or it could be other chronic illnesses like diabetes or cancer that has lived with a family for years.
I hope everything goes well tomorrow. I feel more at peace with myself than I did in 2004, but I still have so much I want to do and so many places I want to see. Most of all I want to see my grandchildren grow up and I want to grow old with my wife.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mark Norris

Mark was an espiring film maker. He seemed to be on the verge of really making it in the world of film. He died at 29 of a heart attack. People 29 don't die of heart attacks, but Mark did. Of course his parents are greaf stricken, and everyone else close to him is in shock. I found out that Mark had abnormally high colestrol levels. I am not qualified to speak about what, if anything, could have been done to prevent his death. My father was 69 when he had his bypass surgery. He seemed typical. He smoked until he was sixty and ate a Southern high fat diet. My brother was in his early fifties and was a heavy smoker when he went under the knife. I, on the other hand, was only 46 and a non-smoker when I had quadruple bypass surgery, and now I encounter a truly young man cut down as his career begins to take off. I guess the bottom line is that heart disease is just not a disease that we can not worry about until our retirement years.

Mark Norris 1982-2011