Garan's Fitness Fun and Facts
So this is day 17 since I’ve been out of the hospital. I skipped the past two days because they were basically uneventful. I want to keep this blog going to help those that may be going through the same thing, but I don’t want to bore anyone. So, I’ll try to post when I think it may be interesting, informational, or may be something of interest to someone.
One of the issues I have recently been having is dealing with the time it takes to prep and cook my meals. Anyone suddenly going on a low sodium diet, or really any diet that is closely regulated will have to deal with this. For me, any processed foods are simply too high in sodium. This really limits meals as you can no longer just open a box of something and cook it, but instead the majority of the meals must be made from scratch. If you are cooking three meals from scratch, you will end up spending hours in the kitchen, and another hour or two going out to buy the ingredients you need for the next meal or two. It was really stressing me out, so my wife stepped in this past weekend and cooked a bunch of meals in advance.
At this point I have frozen some and kept a few in the fridge so I do not have to cook as often. The cooking was really limiting my ability to do OTHER things I needed to accomplish. So, meal prep is now a big part of my lifestyle. Doubling up on recipes and freezing them, or making large pots of stews or soups to make for quick easier meals is a must.
With this new plan I am able to cook only one or two meals a day, and still have other foods available to get the nourishment I need. I think this one simple adjustment will make a difference in my lifestyle.
Now another amazing thing that occurred is that I am actually getting used to the CPAP machine. If you are told you need one, give it a chance! There IS hope at the end of the tunnel.
Now as I indicated in a previous post, when I first put the unit on before going to bed I felt smothered and had to occasionally take the mask off to catch my breath. Still once I feel asleep, I was getting between 4 and 6 hours of sleep wearing it. Over time, I slowly am getting used to putting it on and I am starting to really adjust to it. In fact, last night I got 8 1/2 hours of sleep. Additionally I am no longer waking up with a dry mouth as I did before using the machine. That shows that I am no longer mouth breathing but am breathing through my nose as I should be doing.
People, if you are dealing with CHF, don’t look at it as a death sentence. It really is not! Once you get the diagnosis, make the changes the doctors tell you to, and make an effort to stay on top of it. You CAN change things and start feeling better. Until next time!
So it’s been two weeks since I have been out of the hospital. As I mentioned in my last post, I picked up the CPAP machine and last night I put it into use. Again, the purpose is to prevent me from stopping breathing in my sleep which causes my heart to pound and be overworked. Once I can tolerate it, the heart will be beating far less and will be able to regain some strength.
So after getting the distilled water I needed to fill it, I set the unit up and prepared for bed. Now once in bed I turned the unit on and this hissing noise started. Now I had both my Pit Brindy and Gus my German Shepherd with me in bed. Brindy was not having any of that and left immediately while Gus stayed with me. I could tell he was uneasy and he eventually went into the hallway and whimpered. I could tell he was uneasy. I mean they have been with me for almost 9 years now and suddenly I have the hissing noise with me and this crazy hose attached to my face.
So now I put the nose piece on and tried to relax. At first I thought there was absolutely NO way this was going to work. I felt like I simply could not get enough air and I had to keep removing the nose piece to get a deep breath through my mouth. For those that don’t know, the CPAP forces constant air through your nose so you cannot breath through your mouth. This keeps the body from stopping breathing during sleep. Now I fought through it and eventually calmed down and got into a rhythm. The next thing I knew, it was 4:30 and I had to make a quick trip to the bathroom. I mean I was totally out! I simply could not believe I had fallen asleep. I later went on to sleep another two and a half hours so overall I feel the night was a success. I will try again tonight.
Now the funny thing about wearing a CPAP is really how sad you look doing so. I mean can there be anything less sexy than having a tube strapped to your face. So getting a good seal to fit the nose is important so once you have it, you try not to break it. The designer’s, in their infinite wisdom knew this, so there is a connector that easily separates the hose in two places so if you do need to get up in the middle of the night you can disconnect without taking the mask off. Now keep in mind as you are walking to the bathroom, you have this tube hanging from your nose so you look like an elephant. Ok enough mental imagery for tonight!
Yes this thing may save my life, but at what cost! Oh I know, looking like the elephant man! Until next time!
So 13 days out of the hospital, and now the battle is starting. NOT the battle for my health trying to get stronger, but the battle with my insurance company over my bills.
Yesterday I received a letter from my insurance company
stating that while this is not a bill, this is what the hospital has charged
for the four days I was in the hospital.
The hospital is charging $30,000 for those for days. Now, $6000 dollars of that was for
respiratory services. I will detail
what occurred with respiratory services each of those four days. Each morning, the therapist would walk in
and listen to my lungs. Then she would
place the plastic tube on the inhaler I was using and tell me to take two
puffs. Then she would hand me a small
class of water and tell me to rinse my mouth out and spit the water back into
the cup. Then she would leave. Does that sound like $6000 dollars worth of
services over four days?
So the letter from my insurance company then said because your oxygen level was not below 92% and you didn’t have kidney failure, you do not meet the requirements to be admitted into the hospital and that they will not pay for it. Instead I should have been put in for observation. People, this is simply criminal. I had paid 20 years into my pension system and now that I need to use it, they are refusing.
Now I went to my cardiologist’s office and the receptionist simply said it’s too early to worry about it. She said that this is the game they play. She said they will deny, and when the hospital doesn’t get payed, they have people that will look at my file, send in more information and make sure every eye is dotted and every T crossed. She said that this is NORMAL!
This violently angers me. Why do we allow these games to be played? Now, the hospitals and insurance companies have already come to an agreement as to what the insurance company will pay out, for each procedure. The insurance companies overcharge, in case someone will simply not fight the bill and start paying it. As a former cop, I believe I can make an argument that this is actually a crime of theft by deception. If the procedure cost is already known, but you pay more because you “give up” fighting, they are committing a crime. The reason nothing happens is the people making the laws are taking large sums of money from the lobbyists. The justice department looking into this could stop it by arresting a few CEO’s, but nothing happens. Oh, and be sure that the insurance companies will pay attorney’s $1000 an hour or more to defend their actions, because there is simply too much money to be made off of us.
Let’s face it, a congress person makes about $150,000 a year but most are millionaires. How does one in public service make millions on a government salary? It’s simple, lobbyists!
I will continue to do battle, but it is time for a reform of our entire medical care system. We are getting raked over the coals whether it be at the doctors, hospitals, or paying for prescriptions. I was fortunate enough to have never been in the hospital before this, but there are so many of us going through this process constantly. Please people, watch out if you do receive a bill from a doctor or hospital and go over it thoroughly. Finally, closely watch everything your insurance company is doing. They are NOT your friends.
Day 12 and I’m still alive a kick’in. That’s a good thing! Today was rather uneventful. Pretty normal really, training my clients and of course cooking. Tonight, Melanie and I cooked some soft shell tacos. Melanie found a pretty good spice recipe to season the tacos. I found this low sodium provolone cheese that only has 25mg of sodium so I used that in my tacos. Of course Melanie added some extra salt to hers and used cheddar cheese! I love cheddar, but it’s simply too high in sodium for me. Maybe I will sneak a piece or two later!
Anyway, they were actually pretty good and as usual I always stuff too much filling into one taco, so that’s all I had. That stuff was squirting out the ends so I had to finish it with a fork. It’s nice to keep finding recipes I can live with.
So I guess the real news today was me picking up my CPAP machine! I hate to admit this, but I am not very excited about using it, but in the end it will play a big part in strengthening my heart. Sooo, I picked it up and was shown how to use it. The great thing is it doesn’t have a big mask that goes over the whole nose, but just some little plugs that fit into the nose. While it definitely is not sexy, it only has one strap so I think it will feel OK once I get used to it.
Of course you need distilled water to put in it, and when I stopped at Walgreens to pick some up they were of course out of it. I will have to pick some up tomorrow at another store and start using it tomorrow night.
Now I have heard both good and bad about using the machine. Some people have an extremely hard time getting used to it, and others say as soon as they start using it they sleep better than they ever had in their life. Only time will tell if I am an easy user, or someone that simply can’t get used to it. I’ll keep you posted!
So I was thinking about how attitude is so important if you are going to overcome a diagnosis of CHF or really any bad news. While there will be ups and downs, having a positive attitude is a must. Looking for the good in things really has a positive impact on how you feel.
As a former cop, I have been hit by cars and have had guns pointed at me among other things. In one instance I was chasing a murder suspect and ended up in front of his aunt’s house and we were standing there pointing guns at each other. I decided not to shoot the suspect as his nephew was in the house behind him and I feared if I missed I may hit him instead. Fortunately for me he decided not to shot me and got into a car where we ended up in another car chase. Luckily, he ended up shooting himself in the head and killing himself, and all the officers were OK. Justice was served!
Still after all of those types of events, I really felt I
was living on borrowed time. Honestly I
feel God stepped in and that is why the guy never shot me. Now every day after that always felt like it
was a gift. And it was, but when the
doctor told me my heart was weak, I decided I must continue to fight! Yes I am living on borrowed time, but now I
am fighting for Melanie and the rest of my family and friends. The thought of leaving here too early is my
driving force! One of the things I have
gotten from my parents is tenacity! I
will NOT give up without a fight.
I think too often we forget to look at the gifts God gives us and we dwell on the negative. Yes, finding out I have CHF is scary, but through a better diet, exercise, medication and listening to my doctor I CAN strengthen my heart.
Looking around for the positive is not hard. I mean while it’s bad, I realize my issues are workable. Seeing kids with congenital heart problems or other problems made what I was dealing with very small. Seeing the poor victims of the Las Vegas shooting lose their lives of be forever changed because of some madman also puts things in perspective.
Additionally learning to really look for the good in life makes a difference. Melanie’s hugs suddenly seem more important. Watching my dogs and cat’s be their goofy selves puts a smile on my face, and watching a little girl pick flowers can only make you feel good.
I am sure as I approach the time where I need to have my heart valve replaced I will being going through some dark times, but until then I will make the best of the second, well maybe 4th or 5th chance God has given me. Please people, make the best of every day. After all, we really are not guaranteed the next one.