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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Where have I been? Why haven't I written? What happened to me? Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)...



I've been thinking about writing for a few weeks now. This morning I received a very nice email from a new reader, he said he discovered my blog after doing a search on how to make lasagna. He went on to say that he found the blog interesting and that it ranked high in his search, but he was wondering why I had abandoned the blog. Well, to tell you the truth there are several reasons.

Last summer I wasn't feeling particularly well, I kept battling a respiratory infection and I felt like I had run out of “comparison” foods to write about.  I had a few ideas for articles but I just didn't feel like writing, so I just kept putting it off. Then in January I gained about 25 pounds in two weeks. No matter what I did I couldn't take the weight off. I really didn't feel well, so I went to the emergency room. Imagine my surprise when they informed me that my blood pressure was sky high and that I was bloated with water because something was wrong with my heart or kidneys, or both. WHAT? REALLY? Yeah, really...

So I was admitted to the hospital, they did a number of tests to try to find out what was wrong with me. What had happened? Why did my heart stop working properly? My blood work came back good, no heart attack, no high cholesterol, triglycerides were good too... They did an ultrasound of my kidneys, they were drowning in water. They did an echocardiogram, my heart walls were good, but my heart was slightly enlarged and not functioning normally. Then I had a cardiac catheterization, I had no blockages in my arteries, everything looked good, but my heart was only pumping at 35%. What the hell? I was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure (CHF). What caused this? They don't know. I didn't have prolonged high blood pressure because the walls of my heart weren't overly thick. I had no blockages... The doctors said that it was probably caused by a virus that went into my heart. Well, damn! What now?

Blood pressure medications, a very low sodium diet and exercise. At first they didn't believe that I already ate a low sodium diet, full of natural home-cooked foods... Then as the water came off and my weight dropped, they started to believe me. I took off 40 pounds of fluids in the two weeks I was in the hospital, they've never seen anyone do that. My kidneys got better... Time passed, all of my follow-up visits went well – they started to call me the poster-boy for CHF. Finally last week I had another echocardiogram done. My heart function is back to normal. They told me that sometimes miracles do happen. They don't know why I got sick, and they don't know if the CHF will come back. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't... All they know is that I need to keep watching my sodium intake, keep on the medications and keep exercising. Other people that have gone off the medications and that have had the CHF come back never get back to normal, better safe than sorry.

I firmly believe that diet and exercise made me better. I also believe that the respiratory infection that I had caused my heart problem. I worked in an environment that I believe had black mold and I think that this contributed to the problem. Either way – I'm better now and I'm going to stay that way. I had to quit my job because of how sick I was, I didn't know if I would ever be able to work again. But a couple of months ago I was released to go back to work, now it's time to start putting my life back together again – to start over – and to start writing this blog again.

The primary focus of my blog is going to remain the same, natural, unprocessed home cooked foods, but I will be focusing on recipes with an even lower sodium content. If you want to add more salt to the recipes, feel free – you can always add, but you can't take it out... In addition, I was told that I may be or have been pre-diabetic. I'm not sure about that, I did eat a lot of carbs, but my body was in distress for months which would have raised my glucose level, even for the A1C test. Either way, I find that if I eat a diabetic diet I am able to lose weight and that's good for my heart. So there you go, I will also focus on foods that are diabetic friendly.

Articles won't get written as quickly as they sometimes were in the past, my circumstances at this time don't allow me to cook and experiment as much as I'd like to. Also, I'll be going back analyzing all of the recipes that I've put up in the past and give nutritional information on them all. It will take time but it should be fun. If I find any recipes that need “fixing” to bring them in line with my new diet, I'll do that too. I've glanced over most of my past blogs and they look to be fine – low sodium and mostly low carb – with a few exceptions, such as the lasagna and the granola. I don't think that much can be done with them and I'll leave them “as is” but I'll be researching for new ways to make similar foods. Future articles will reflect my search for tasty low-sodium recipes. I'll be trying out new low-sodium ingredients and products, like low-sodium soy sauce and low-sodium pickles. I'm thinking I'll probably like my own pickles more, but you never know.

So I hope you will all join me on my new journey. I hope that you will share your own recipes and experiences too. So, let's get cooking!

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