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Canoeing, Tripping, Camping with Heart Problems

None of us are going to get out of this world alive. Best just to live life to its fullest, each and every day. There is no guarantee for a future tomorrow. Worrying about it will just increase stress, stress, well we all know what stress does to us.

Dear Playmate in the Kindergarten of God: Please do not take life quite so seriously—you surely will never get out of it alive. And as for your buying and selling, your churches and banks, your newspapers and books, they are really at the last of no more importance than the child’s paper houses, red and blue wafers, and funny scissors things.
Why you grown-ups! all your possessions are only just to keep you out of mischief, until Death, the good old nurse, comes and rocks you to sleep. Am I not right?
-- Elbert Hubbard
 
We have heart disease in our family; on both my mother's and father's side. My father had a heart attack and bypass surgery when he was 53. I had a heart attack when I was 38 (I turned 69 last month). Fortunately, it didn't happen when I was in the woods - I was at home, it was late at night and I was able to drive myself to a nearby hospital. Before the attack, I was active canoeing, camping, hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and bicycling. I had an active guide service and took a number of my students' families on canoe camping trips In the ADKs. Needless to say, the attack came out of nowhere. Other than a family history, there were no contributing factors; I was physically fit and my diet was good.

Tests showed that my right coronary artery was the problem. They tried a catherization, but were unsuccessful; they couldn't get a catheter through because it was 100% occluded. There was discussion of bypass surgery, but being so young, I took that off the table, so I was managed with statins and medications to lower my heart rate. When I first left the hospital, I could only manage to get around in my second floor apartment. The first time I went out, I only walked around the block and then had to sit down and rest halfway up the stairs to my apartment. I was out of work for nearly four months recovering and rehabbing. Everything went well, I wnt back to work and one year later I was cleared to resume all of my activities with no restrictions. The following two summers, I was able to accept positions as an assistant forest ranger on wilderness patrol in the Adirondacks. Since, I have been able to do any of the activities I enjoy. As you would think, I have been under the regular care of a cardiologist.

About five years ago my cardiologist noted a heart murmur. He monitored it and in late 2021, noted a change in it. That prompted some tests and he determined that the valve needed to be repaired (not replaced) and it should be done sooner, rather than later since I am "young." Although he said it could be done locally, he said that if it were one of his family members, he would only recommend one person to do it - David Adams at Mount Sinai. He made the arrangements, I went for a consultation with Dr. Adams and another surgeon who would be assisting and two hours later, I emerged confident that Dr. Adams was the person I wanted doing the surgery. He told me he would repair the mitral valve, do a bypass around the area of the occlusion from my heart attack (which had opened up 20%) and "tune-up" my tricuspid valve. The surgery was done last March and went well. I was so impressed by Mt. Sinai; the care was outstanding from start to finish; particularly the doctors and the nurses. I went home after 10 days, did rehab until Memorial Day. I went back to school for one month and then retired. I was cleared in June to do my first solo canoe camping trip the following month - here's the video I made during the trip. I did six more trips last summer and fall and had no problems.

Besides the commonsense things about being active, eating well, having competent doctors and following their medical advice; for me, maintaining a positive attitude, being disciplined, having a support system of family and friends and most importantly, having an end goal allowed me, in both instances, to get back to the things I love (and now have more time to enjoy in retirement).
 
Nuclear stress test yesterday. Good results and I can resume exercising. Bad results and its back to the hospital.
 
I have high blood pressure which is controlled by medication. At almost 75 years old, well, you would think it comes with years. Recently, a new law was signed into effect called the Pact Act, it covers those who where subject to burn pits and Agent Orange. High blood pressure is a presumptive condition covered by this new law. Since I have already been covered by two other conditions, bladder and prostrate cancer presumed to have been caused by Agent Orange, the VA now considers the high blood pressure to be also a condition caused by my exposure to AO.
Agent Orange, the gift that keeps on giving.
 
I have high blood pressure which is controlled by medication. At almost 75 years old, well, you would think it comes with years. Recently, a new law was signed into effect called the Pact Act, it covers those who where subject to burn pits and Agent Orange. High blood pressure is a presumptive condition covered by this new law. Since I have already been covered by two other conditions, bladder and prostrate cancer presumed to have been caused by Agent Orange, the VA now considers the high blood pressure to be also a condition caused by my exposure to AO.
Agent Orange, the gift that keeps on giving.
Robin…….
Was going to click the LIKE button, but there is not much to like about Agent Orange. I was exposed to it too, back in 67-68. I even gave directions to flights of three or more “Ranch Hand” C-123 aircraft to our little radar site up near the DMZ, so they could spray us and the surrounding area. First time I thought they were spraying for mosquitoes. Learned about the defoliant part later, much later the affects on other life forms. Nasty stuff.
 
I have worked around plants for 50 years. Agent Orange was mostly a combination of two common herbicides. 2,4-D and 2,4,5 T which are still in use today. I have used herbicides a lot over the years, but have been careful to wear a protective suit and gloves.
 
I have worked around plants for 50 years. Agent Orange was mostly a combination of two common herbicides. 2,4-D and 2,4,5 T which are still in use today. I have used herbicides a lot over the years, but have been careful to wear a protective suit and gloves.
I'm pretty sure Robin and Boreal Birch were as careful as they could be too.
War is a little different ya know Protective gear is not an option
 
I was provided protective gear, helmet, flak vest and a M-60 for the perceived danger. Have no idea what protective gear the C-123 Provider crew got or the ground crews that pumped the stuff into the aircraft sprayer units.
Doubt that many knew of the health dangers of defoliation chemicals in the mid-60’s to mid-70’s.
This thread sure took a turn.....

Thread drift is what makes this site more of a campfire discussion. Especially interesting once the OP topic has basically ran its course. We all have something wrong with our health or will have. “I for one don’t want to sit on my log listening to some geezer going on and about it” He said, as he struggled to his get up with a grunt, limped off into the dark to relieve his bladder for sixth time.
 
12 days behind but I'm a new guy....

I had the nuke stress test last month after chest, jaw, neck and arm pain. I walk daily, fairly active, and used to ride a mt bike roughly 250 miles a week. Doc said the heart flow is good but I have intermittent PCV/ATC at high heart rates. Basically, floating the valves at too high an rpm. All clear to do as I please and the pains went away after a couple of weeks, thoughts are stress related.

I'm a firm believer that if you stop, you rust. It seems most of my outdoor activities are solo, for peace of mind to family and medical/mobility issues. I'm looking at an inreach unit, though 5 bills is tough to swallow. I have an ERPLB but that's basically an all or nothing.

On a side note, while waiting in the lobby after getting my nuke injection and waiting for first pictures and the treadmill, another guy in the lobby took a header out of his chair. They had 4 personnel and a stretcher there in about a minute. Evidently, it's more common than one would imagine.
 
I saw the cardiologist a few weeks ago. It's quite difficult to actually get an appointment in our neck of the woods. While I was waiting in the lobby, I realized that I was surrounded by people who were very ill. A few had oxygen masks, some had walkers, and most were very slow moving. Some were younger than me too. So I'm gonna count my lucky stars that I can still even contemplate a solo canoe trip, because the people around me at the clinic would not be capable of doing much of anything.

Doc said my heart was good, but he wants to knock my cholesterol back to almost nothing, cause I keep blocking up. He said needing to be re-stented after a couple of years was not that common. I'm not too keen on more statins, I already cramp up like a monkey fist at a punching party, but he told me I wouldn't have a choice in the matter.

Anyway, it's good to be alive!
 
I'm looking at an inreach unit, though 5 bills is tough to swallow.

Sorry, thread drift again....

I picked up a used "like new" SPOT X satellite messenger on eBay, there's plenty there from $50-$150. Mine has worked flawlessly, eBay sellers with a past history are very reliable, imo. SPOT X plans allow you to shut off service for months at a time.

Now back to the can you top this health stories, ☺️
 
We've had some honest, interesting and informative discussions about canoeing with age and health problems.

I'd like to focus on heart issues. How have various heart problems affected, stopped, diminished, restricted, or not affected your canoeing or tripping? Do the problems affect mainly the paddling, the portaging, or the places you are willing to go? Are there mental aspects (e.g. fear) that are as debilitating as any physical limitations? How have you overcome these physical or mental aspects, or not?

I'm going to see my doctor next month for my EKG, etc., and am not looking forward to it. Although I haven't had any specifically diagnosed heart problems or procedures, beyond HBP and cholesterol, my overall energy and cardio fitness have been declining so rapidly in my mid-70's that it's depressing. For the first time in my formerly active life, my body and mind tell me I can't do the very things that would probably improve matters for me—more exercise. And I fear worse is coming.
In 2018 I had my aortic valve replaced. I'm on Metoprolol, which slows the heart and Eliquis, which is a blood thinner.
Last year I ended up in the hospital from something unrelated and caught pneumonia and now have reduced lung function.
Luckily, paddling down a river isn't very aerobic. Certainly not like riding a bike up a mountain.
It might not be 100% safe for me to go paddling down a wilderness river, but I decided I needed to just get on with my life and not worry about it too much. If something goes wrong, hopefully they can get me out in time. If not, well, I died doing what I enjoy.
 
I saw the cardiologist a few weeks ago. It's quite difficult to actually get an appointment in our neck of the woods. While I was waiting in the lobby, I realized that I was surrounded by people who were very ill. A few had oxygen masks, some had walkers, and most were very slow moving. Some were younger than me too. So I'm gonna count my lucky stars that I can still even contemplate a solo canoe trip, because the people around me at the clinic would not be capable of doing much of anything.

Doc said my heart was good, but he wants to knock my cholesterol back to almost nothing, cause I keep blocking up. He said needing to be re-stented after a couple of years was not that common. I'm not too keen on more statins, I already cramp up like a monkey fist at a punching party, but he told me I wouldn't have a choice in the matter.

Anyway, it's good to be alive!
I'm on stent #5 now, one thing my doc did was put me on Ezetrol, it helps slow the production absorption of cholesterol by your body- multiple tests showed that while my diet is fairly low in it, I was essentially absorbing every drop instead of passing most of what I was eating.
 
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