Update On My Health

I blog on just about everything else, so I might as well tell everyone how I am doing.

As was recently pointed out to me, I haven’t finished the story about 5371.  I took a break at the time because of some health concerns, but according to one reader (who didn’t leave a name):

“but in spite of it you have been on several train rides, climbed a mountain in search of a geocache, taken a thousand photos, but a month later we’re still wondering WTF happened to the plane.”

Cut me some slack, will you?  While I appreciate that you’ve been reading my blog and actually keeping up with that we’ve been doing, besides the fact that the civilian investigation isn’t complete, I’ve been trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with me.  Please note that even while doing all of those things I have been experiencing some very serious symptoms and have had to deal with them while out and about my life.  Its not been easy on Hui-chen either.

The symptoms that I have been experiencing are all heart-related.  The main culprit has been tachycardia and that has been very scary to deal with.  Not that the other symptom, palpitations have been any more pleasant.

On several occasions I have been sitting at home when my heart rate took off racing up to about 140 beats per minute.  Fortunately I was able to see a heart specialist during one of these episodes and he has concluded that there is nothing wrong with my heart.  I had an EKG that showed my heart is perfectly normal with no damage and indeed, in good condition.  The EKG shows that I have never had a heart attack and that I wasn’t having one then either.  This is the good news.

The bad news is that nobody knows what is causing them to occur.  The palpitations that I have been experiencing are very dramatic and disturbing.  My heart drops a beat with a very heavy thump feeling in my chest.  The doctor has told me over and over that there is nothing wrong with my heart and that I can ignore those symptoms.  He has given me some medication to control the rate and also to keep the palpitations to a minimum.

I’m going to tell you from personal experience that when your heart is racing at nearly a buck-forty, and dropping beats every minute or so, its not easy to remain calm.

Before I had medicine to control the rate and rhythm, I had a very scary episode and went to the Hukou ER because I just didn’t know it if would come back under control on its own or not.  I spent four hours in the ER, hooked up to the heart monitor.  The ER doctor also concluded from the EKG that my heart wasn’t malfunctioning.  But it took all that time for the heart rate to slow down.

Since that time I have been searching for a reason why, and also some therapy that I can engage in so I can control the situation without having to resort to drugs.  The activity that makes me feel the best, and actually seems to result in a normal heart rate and rhythm is hard exercise.  I have also noticed a correlation between eating and rapid heart beat.  It seems that I feel better and have less problems if I eat more frequent meals.  Most of the time I would only eat an evening meal, usually after 21:00.  I’m changing this habit with some good results.

Once upon a time I was an amateur body builder (hard to believe huh?).  I spent 12 hours a week in a professional gym, pumping iron along side some of the local contenders.  I never participated in any of those events, I just wanted to work out in a well-equipped gym where there were lots of experienced people.  As often happens in life, making a living gradually interfered with my work outs.  Some time later I injured my spine and that put an end to lifting.  Eventually I recovered to the point where I am OK now and I can return to working out.  The truth be told, I really enjoy exercising and in particular I like to ride my Giant Yukon mountain bike.

Last December I was in Thailand and I noticed that I was having some heart palpitations but I didn’t have the heart rate symptom going on.  I decided that I needed some exercise, so I bought a mountain bike at a local bike shop in Kohnkaen.

This is my Taiwanese (China made) Merida mountain bike, purchased in Thailand for 10,000 baht.

After riding between 15 and 25 KM every day I noticed that I didn’t have any of those palpitations anymore.  Could the palpitations be my body’s way of telling me to get off my butt and work out?

Some one a lot smarter than I suggested that I i could be suffering from stress.  Even the doctor told me that.  Although I can’t really think of anything that is so stressful in my life, Michael pointed out that even pleasant things (such as getting married) can and do often impart stress.  Then its entirely possible that I have been suffering from stress and its manifesting itself as this condition.  As I learn more about what is going on, I tend to agree with Michael’s assessment.

No, I don’t have clipless cycling shoes, I wear my sandals.  At least I’m riding mine.  Yours is a clothes hanger right?

I own a CardioMaster stationary bicycle.  I make it a point to ride it every day, even if for only a few minutes.  What I find works best for me is to turn up the resistance so it feels like I’m climbing a huge hill, and just pedal fast for as long as I can keep it up.  I gradually reduce the resistance until its totally off.  By that time I have a huge burn going.

I’m fat and I look stupid on exercise equipment.  The point is for me to continue using the equipment until I look good using it.  I’ll post those shots large sized.

Then I get on the Total Gym 9000 and do some strength training (sometimes I reverse the order).  People who have never used one of these pieces of equipment joke about them.  I took their names and gave them to Chuck Norris.

All joking aside, this is a serious piece of workout gear.  Depending upon how the incline is set you use a percentage of your body weight for the workout.  My father had one of these when he was in his 70s.  It was one of the few pieces of equipment that he could setup by himself and actually use.  On the lower settings the weight was quite manageable for him and he used it a lot.  I went to visit him in 1999 for a couple of months and I used his TV model almost every day.

So, now I push myself hard on the bicycle and then work out on the Total Gym until I fade.  After that my heart is racing, but its racing for a good reason.  By the time I shower and cool down, my heart rate is back to normal, and importantly, stays that way.  Until I find the actual cause of the problem I keep some of that medicine handy but I’ve only had to use it a couple of times in the last month.  I am bothered mostly by the palpitations at night.  Sometimes I can’t get to sleep because I can feel my heart skipping.  Its very easy to let your fears take over and run wild about what could be going wrong.  A few times I even wondered if I would survive all the dropped heartbeats.  Fortunately for me I have scientific proof in 2 EKGs with 2 separate opinions that my heart is not malfunctioning or is damaged.

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  1. Hope you get things under control soon. Getting well is more important than pretty much anything else.

  2. Hey MJ good to see you doing the hard yards. It’s hard work getting the weight off but it is good doing it.

    I remember being 108 kilograms a few years back and one day after seeing my picture just went what the?

    I am now 88 kilograms and was done to 85 until my parents came for a 2 week holiday in Thailand and that meant no exercise and also a lot of eating out so the weight went up a bit but I really enjoy going to my local park every day.

    Keep up your hard work as your health is every thing, that’s what I believe. A healthy body a healthy mind.


  3. thanks for the encouragement. i’ve narrowed the cause of the palpitations down to what i think is the cause, and i’ve been able to control them finally.

    thanks for your comments!

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