A Day In The Life Of

So Much To Be Grateful For

So Much To Be Grateful For

It’s been a busy month! My last substantive post was on 3/31. If you recall, I was embarking on removing the added sugar, oil, salt, and processed foods from my Whole Foods plant based diet.

I’m happy to say that it has been fully in place for a several weeks now, and is going great! I feel great, have lost 15 pounds since 3/31, and things are looking good.

There was, however, a detour along the way. A detour that saw me in the hospital for 2 nights and 3 days!

Long-story-short, I suffered a Supraventricular Tachycardia episode (SVT). My heart rate shot up to 180 beats per minute and didn’t want to come down. After 15 minutes of breathing exercises and meditation, I stood up to get something to drink and passed out.

When I came to, I called 911 and was taken to the hospital. Thankfully, a neighbor was home and came over to take care of our dog, Beau (more about him later – he’s awesome!). I texted Kevin to let him know I wasn’t feeling well, and a couple of other folks texted him as well. It was such a relief to see him waiting for me when I arrived. He is my rock.

Long story short, two things emerged from that event. (1) It was discovered that I had a 70% blockage in my Left Anterior Descending Artery, and (2) I have an electrical issue with my heart called Tachycardia (fast heart beat).

I knew for a few weeks that something was brewing. For all of you reading this post, I can’t stress enough how important it is to have yourself tested if you have a family history of heart disease, are overweight, have eaten a standard American diet for any sustained period of time, or feel dizziness, shortness or breath, or suffer any kinds of discomfort in your chest (pains, tightness, burning, etc.)

Because heart disease runs rampant on both sides of my family, I started monitoring my cardiac health in 2016 through a series of baseline tests. Beginning at that time, I had an EKG, an echocardiogram, and a calcium scoring CT scan. I also started regularly monitoring my blood pressure and cholesterol. Since strokes and aneurisms run in my family as well, I have regular ultrasounds of my carotid arteries and aorta performed.

After all of those tests were completed, I was told by my cardiologist that I was fine. Unbeknownst to me, he did not reveal that I was showing signs of calcified plaque in my coronary arteries. It was minimal (10 on a scale of 0-400), but still…..that technically meant that at that time, I had heart disease. He told me that I was fine and to come back in 5 years, which I did not do due to the pandemic. I found out about the 2016 results when I recently requested my records for my new cardiologist here in Lewes. I wish I had known about the calcified plaque then. But I won’t obsess over the past. There is no value in that.

In February, I resumed my tests and the EKG noted an abnormality. I secured appointments with an awesome local cardiologist, Dr. Qureshi here in Lewes. I can’t say enough good things about him. He ordered a series of tests to get to the bottom of things. I did pretty well with the CT scan. My calcified plaque was only up slightly (32), but my EKG was showing signs of a slow heart beat (Bradycardia). So more tests were ordered. I had a nuclear stress test on the Monday before my SVT event. It came back abnormal, and I was really concerned. So when my heart rate jumped up a couple of days later, I thought I was possibly dealing with anxiety over the stress test results. I was wrong.

While I was resting in the emergency room at the hospital, Dr. Qureshi called and assured me that we would get to the bottom of things. He ordered an angiogram to be performed the following day. I was really happy that we were going to do this so that we could get to the bottom of things. The hospital staff at Beebe were all wonderful. They took such good care of me. Kevin was with me constantly, while also taking care of Beau (the Dalmatian we had adopted the week before all of this happened). I was wrapped in love and support. Family was checking on me constantly. My bosses at work let me know that I had their full support and they wanted me to focus on my healing and not worry about them. I really felt so much love and caring from every direction.

The next day, another wonderful surgeon, Dr. Freih performed the procedure. I was lightly sedated with valium, taken down to a room where I was prepped for the procedure, and Dr. Freih came in and talked with me for a while. In the room I was given another sedative, but I was still awake and aware of what was going on, and I was talking a mile a minute – asking questions. Dr. Freih was very indulgent and answered all of my questions.

The procedure took 1 hour during which time I was awake and observing everything on the large display screen on the wall. I saw my heart, and my coronary arteries. It was a very wonderful, exciting, scary, intimate moment. He let me know that he had found a blockage and that he would fix it, which he did. I watched the screen while he performed his work and was transfixed. The experience was pretty-much pain free. There was only momentary discomfort when he injected the painkiller into my wrist. He fed the catheter into a vein there instead of in my groin.

Before I knew it, I was back in my hospital bed for one more night of observation, connected to wires everywhere! I tell you, there is nothing more sobering than being in the hospital. This was the first time I spent the night in the hospital since I was about 6 years old and had to have a hernia repaired. You really come to realize just how precious and delicate life is.

So my blockage is gone, there are no others, and now I will be working with doctors to treat the Tachycardia. Hopefully it will be as simple as a medication.

Since 2016 I have been vegan and with the exception of the timeframe that I outlined in my first blog post, I was totally sugar, oil, and salt-free. I haven’t eaten any animal products in over 7 years now, and my cholesterol (which I have always constantly checked) has never been high since I went vegan. My total cholesterol and LDLs have been in optimal ranges since I went vegan. BUT…… that’s 7 years out of a total of 58 that I have been blessed to be on this planet. It can’t be determined for sure, but it would appear that most of my blockage came about before I went vegan. At the very least, I am grateful that my plant-based lifestyle probably saved me from a heart attack, or something much worse.

In any event, I am back on the lifestyle plan that is right for me. I’m dropping weight and bodyfat, and am feeling great. An added bonus, I will be working with Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn personally later this week for 5 hours to ensure that I am fully on the right track. For those of you who may not know about him, he is a legend in the wellness community as well as in the heart health community. Bill Clinton is one of his patients, and credits Dr. Esselstyn with restoring his health. Dr. Esselstyn has documented cases of reversing heart disease through a nutritional approach. It will be fun to see what the future holds. For more information on Dr. Esselstyn, CLICK HERE.

So now I look forward to a healthy and robust future! I look forward to sharing this journey with you!!! I’m very excited and I can’t wait to post (down the road) about the progress that I have made on this path.

Until next time! Be well!

Published by Tony Buffkin

2 comments on “So Much To Be Grateful For”

  1. Dorothy says:

    Oh Tony, Bless you! You have bared heart and soul! I am so glad you are on the other side of your Beebe experience and now on the mend. You can count on me to be rooting for you all the way. So glad you are in the Esselstyn camp👏🥦❤️ You know he wrote the foreword for my book? He’s famous for announcing that “Heart disease need never exist and if it does need never progress!” Much love and best wishes for restoration and healing.

  2. Hi Dorothy!

    Thank you so much! I don’t mind sharing if my experience can help someone else.

    The folks at Beebe are wonderful.

    Thank you, as always, for your support ❤️❤️❤️

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