Mystery Herb May Have Caused A-Fib, Swollen Legs (Edema), Chronic Case Cured by Dr. Andrea Natale
A wake-up call and call to arms to preserve, protect, defend and optimize overall health.
By Rose Vernier, M.Ed., 2012, Updated September 2013
A-Fib Shock and Denial!
In mid-May 2006, I was suddenly traumatized, thrown into shock and denial by the diagnosis: Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib). I was almost 72 years old. I knew I was healthy. My overall health regimen was massage, acupuncture, dental care, chiropractic, manicure, pedicure and hair care. I used western medical professionals for only an emergency I could not otherwise fix.
After this “death sentence” and several A-Fib-linked life-threatening or -ending risks: stroke, congestive heart failure, enlarging heart, anxiety, fear and terror, I learned June 6, 2012, that my A-Fib was most likely caused by an error: a Chinese herb or herbs referred to as “hot” or stimulating contrasted with “cold” or calming. Further details are not available yet pending litigation and/or settlement or amnesty.
I saw my chiropractor for a mysterious backache my private practice acupuncturist hadn’t fixed. Also, an herbalist prescribed the herb. After checking my pulse, the chiropractor said my heartbeat was rapid and irregular. He told me to get myself to the hospital immediately. I reported to the emergency room at the heart hospital. Looking for the front door, I met a nurse “angel of mercy” going home who took one look at me and escorted me to the emergency room. Lucky for me insurance-wise! They immediately hooked me up with oxygen and intravenous fluids, including drugs (no idea which ones) to lower my heart rate which ultimately climbed to over 250 beats a minute. They told me I had A-Fib. They wanted me to start Coumadin (warfarin) blood thinner but I would have had to stay in the hospital for three days. As it was, I was kept overnight.
I was frozen in shock, paralyzed in terror.
They told me I could go home after they cardioverted (shocked) my heart into normal sinus rhythm, but I first had to let them do a TEE (transesophageal echocardiogram) to be sure there were no blood clots lurking around my heart. What could I do? I said “yes”. These two steps took only a few minutes. But the TEE was a nightmare I have refused to suffer again. I have since learned I have a very small opening in the back of my throat. Maybe that’s why I had pain for several days. Could they have used a smaller tube?
Leaving the hospital without medication, I spent the next three months wrestling with this A-Fib of which I knew nothing and really wanted to know nothing. Denial. Fear. Terror. All alone with a foreign invader now living in my heart. I just wanted the A-Fib to go away. But it stayed with me constantly. It ruled my life.
Did you guess? This first cardioversion lasted only a few hours.
Denial Leads to Edema (Swelling)
The three-month-long denial phase led to edema from untreated A-Fib. One day, one ankle began swelling; the next day, the other ankle. The edema moved all the way up to my thighs. All in all, I gained 30 pounds of fluid buildup, 15 in each leg.
I got progressively weaker. The few times I dragged myself into my primary care doctor’s office, he wanted me to be hospitalized. Electrocardiograms and pulse checks confirmed continuous A-Fib. I remained clueless but determined to weather the storm.
Finally, in August, the edema forced me to accept referral to a cardiologist who put me on Coumadin without hospitalization. He also put me on my first rate control medication. Unfortunately, it took him some time (increasingly agonizing torture time to me) to recognize and treat the edema with a diuretic to finally end the edema crisis (so scary and sad).
I was a very frightened, still-traumatized-in-shock “newbie”. This strange new world of western heart medicine was sophisticated, specialized, high-tech, compartmentalized, mechanized beyond my comprehension of all its new language, logic and reasoning. It terrified me beyond words.
A little secret, folks. I got “medication constipation.” It was awful. Fortunately, I found an advertisement in a free health news magazine for Oxy-Powder (www.oxypowder.com from Global Healing Center, Houston, Texas.) Disclaimer: If I name a product, it is because I use it and endorse it.
I did the colon cleanse, and I continue to use a maintenance dosage.
Five Years in A-Fib: Various Meds. Probably Un-diagnosed Stress, Anxiety and Depression
Basically, I do not recall experiencing a lot of negative side effects from Coumadin and the mostly rate control meds I was given over the five years I was treated by my first cardiologist. I do recall that my fear of bleeding to death was not as strong as my fear of a disabling stroke without the Coumadin. The monthly or more frequent INR blood tests were a bit of a drag compounded by various insurance network ins and outs. I am working through several diet changes as I return to my pre-Coumadin food choices.
I stopped Coumadin May 22, 2012. Three days later, before three witnesses, my acupuncturist at AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, www.aoma.edu, told me my complexion is now rosy, not gray, glowing with a radiant, luminous light, and my eyes are very bright, wide open, not downcast and lidded. I call it a healing miracle confirming my A-Fib cure! But what are my consequences in the future from having taken this powerful, perhaps dangerous drug for six years?
I recall one med, Amiodarone, I was on briefly. The cardiologist quickly took me off it because of dangerous side effects. Consequences? Soon he referred me to an Electrophysiologist (EP) I saw one time who concurred that amiodarone can have dangerous side effects.
The EP mentioned ablation but did not encourage it for me. I learned wrongly that Medicare did not cover ablation. Not true. But that error stopped any thought of ablation for me. On my modest retirement single fixed income, I could not imagine paying out-of-pocket expenses for more than bare survival.
Digoxin, my pharmacy told me, was replaced by a different product. Consequences? I found using only one prescription drug source is wise and safest for me. These pharmaceutical experts track interactions, combinations and side effects.
My every six-months visits to the cardiologist included echocardiogram procedures, electrocardiograms and occasional different rate control medications. We did not talk much about diet or exercise. Once I was chastised for saying I was drinking more water to detoxify my body. I got no guidance on anti-inflammation for mitigating damages to my body.
My primary doc had me tested for sleep apnea which can trigger or cause A-Fib. It’s a simple, over-night test. If you have A-Fib, you must have a sleep apnea test done. Even if you have a successful ablation, untreated sleep apnea can re-damage your heart.
I was weakening, afraid to exert myself, more of a “basket case” than ever. I became more sedentary, afraid to travel without carefully structured planning and effort. I paced myself very carefully. I rested a lot: expend a bit of energy, rest; repeat. I got a lot of muscle aches in my arms and back if I exerted. I forced myself to move minimally. I stopped using my mini-trampoline to reprogram my brain and turn over all my cells. I was ashamed to be so weak. I felt frailer and frailer.
Since my mother and maternal grandmother had both died at age 75, I got my affairs in order and prepared to exit.
I was terrified of falling, becoming incapacitated and dying. Then I learned about supplementing with strontium instead of calcium and stopped worrying about falling. The product I use is Ultimate Bone Support from www.AdvancedBionutritionals.com. You may want to check their research.
Insensitive, Insulting Comments from Medical Professionals
Three years passed. I felt like a stranger in a strange land. Alone and lonely with my foreign condition, alienated, heart and whole body filled with incomprehensible ticking time bombs.
It was hurtful to endure the insensitive, insulting comments from medical professionals that I was “lucky” to “only” have A-Fib when other people were suffering from much worse heart and other health conditions. And how “lucky” I “only” had two medications!
Sadly I did not learn about getting all my full reports from each visit, including doctor, nurse and other notes, etc., which I painfully learned are routinely sent to my primary care doctors and insurance carriers.
Looking back, I think the cardiologist’s order to stop acupuncture and the prescription drugs had a lot to do with my downward spiral of quality of life. Stopping acupuncture was wrong! It lasted two years, from 2006 to 2008, until I finally faced him and asked him when I could resume. He said “OK, now.”
I have since learned that acupuncture is well researched, proven and documented worldwide. AOMA has the highest credentials and a worldwide reputation of excellence. I go for monthly maintenance. If I get a problem, they treat it. They document, supervise, and use peer review and teamwork to treat patients. Some insurance plans cover acupuncture. I get closely supervised state-of-the-art student care at a modest cost. This treatment enhances my life and helps optimize overall health—body, mind and spirit are integrated and unified.
I guess I probably experienced undiagnosed stress, anxiety and depression (PTSD). Metoprolol was a “downer” which I recognized when I changed to Bystolic shortly before my ablation. Bystolic was a “high” compared to Metoprolol.
I was afraid of losing control and independence in my life. I worked to overcome these problems. I stood on God, the Constitution of the United States, the Preamble and Bill of Rights, the Bible, biographies and autobiographies of heroes—positive affirmations and visualizations. I read. I wrote. I copied and memorized inspiring passages. I trusted my perfect creator, God, who designed me and was healing and curing me as always. I hung on. I clung to life. I awaited deliverance. I searched for help.
In the Summer of 2009, my daughter learned about the Mini-Maze surgery and contacted me. (I thank God that at every dark life challenge, my four children each and all gave me loving kindness, wisdom and guidance!) I miraculously found this website and emailed Steve Ryan who graciously, also miraculously, responded. When I told him I prayed for a cure, he “ordered” me to get an ablation ASAP. Steve, the old-timer, knew all I was getting was bare survival and maintenance, not CURE. I kept telling the cardiologist that I sought a cure. But he had no answer.
I awoke from the trauma-shock-denial. My eyes opened. My mind faced reality. Hope returned!
Steve referred me to Dr. Andrea Natale who miraculously recently moved to Austin, Texas, to found Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Group and Institute at the St. David’s Medical Center. Several hospital employees told me they or their stricken family members experienced the same miracle. Sadly, my cardiologist did not concur, encourage or approve, but he did give me the referral to Dr. Natale. Why? Maybe because of my age, sex, “permanent” A-Fib, my enlarging heart which he did not inform me of or treat me for. More? Who knows? I just discovered he had even diagnosed congestive heart failure (CHF—mortality rate five years!) without explaining or treating me for it.
At that time in the history of ablation, folks, I guess I was a non-candidate, except to this one electrophysiologist, Dr. Natale, who agreed to see me, who had a healing faith, trust, promises and proven results.
Bottom line: Joy, Hope, Recovery, New Life.
I saw Dr. Natale in mid-October 2009. My ablation was March 1, 2010. They said I’d probably need two ablations. I prayed for and believed for one. So far so good.
There were follow-up monitorings. I took the antiarrhythmic drug, Rhythmol, for about three months. I had a cardioversion or two. Slowly, I healed. Yes, I probably stayed on Coumadin too long. They say people stay on Coumadin for life. But I stopped Coumadin on my own May 22, 2012 after almost six full years. I stepped out in faith in my A-Fib CURE.
My May, 2012, checkups were normal. Two EKGs, lab tests, blood work and echocardiogram report a normal condition!!! Normal sinus rhythm (NSR). No A-Fib. Excellent ejection fraction. Very mild regurgitation.
And the news is good for my long-untreated enlarging heart. My new cardiologist, last May 2011, put me on Lisinopril, an ACE inhibitor, to stop the enlarging and shrink my heart. It worked! In one year, my left antrum measurement decreased from 5.4 or 5.6 to 4.9. Is Lisinopril dangerous? I’ll face that when I stop taking it, when my heart is a normal size without it.
My ablation procedure was Pulmonary Vein Antrum Isolation (PVAI) with radio frequency energy (RF is like microwave) “zapping” A-Fib electrical points. I was outpatient overnight. I was fully anesthetized. The procedure took place in an EP laboratory in a hospital. Dr. Natale spent at least one-third of my procedure time checking, rechecking, testing and retesting his work. This extraordinary level of care is now the Gold Standard. Patients can expect and demand it!
Lessons Learned on Overall Health Issues
This is my life to live fully, freely and joyously. A-Fib taught me to wake up and smell the roses, cherish the natural beauty of our land and world, learn to grow in unconditional love for every human by forgiving myself and everyone else, thank God for everything, every day in every way and thank myself and others. God and the Benevolent Universe are the same yesterday, today and forever. Jesus Christ and other teachers of the law of love humans need to survive give me role modeling, leadership, lessons and light.
Lessons learned on self-healing training
May 2012 I discovered David Servan-Schreiber’s (DSS) international bestseller 2003 book, The Instinct to Heal, Curing Stress, Anxiety and Depression Without Drugs and Without Talk Therapy. His seven “Gold Standard” natural self-help treatments focus the direction I want to travel. 1. I do acupuncture. 2. I do exercise. 3. I am practicing heart rate rhythm variability relief from stress by restoring coherence when chaos sneaks up or overwhelms. DSS suggests brief daily exercise practice for going into peaceful sleep. 4. I am working on improving non-violent conflict resolution and emotional listening and replying. 5. I am trying left-right eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR) to heal trauma scars (some practitioners use sound or skin strategies). 6. I take Omega 3 and work to improve the quality of my diet. I got a new nutrition coach for diet and supplements, a free service from Vitamin Cottage, Natural Grocerswww.vitamincottage.com. 7. I may invest in a dawn simulation alarm device for biological resetting.
DSS has brilliantly clarified my knowledge and increased my understanding of the emotional cognitive brain connection. The old emotional brain (EB) controls instinct, reflex, dreams, memories, all our physiology. The new cognitive brain (CB) controls language, reason, planning, problem solving.
The DSS website www.instincttoheal.org has a 2007 YouTube video presentation of his book DSS gave to the American Hospital in Paris, France, clearly demonstrating EMDR and cardiac coherence exercises using computer software to prove such simple healing is real. He also justifies the brain’s need for Omega 3 food and supplements due to evolving food growth history.
An acupuncture-based alternative to EMDR is also available. It is called Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). It uses gentle tapping on the 12 acupuncture channel meridian (electrical energy) ends in our body. Now-retired Gary Craig, the founder, gives a free tutorial on his new web site www.garythink.com.
Steve Ryan, our www.a-fib.com website “founding father”, tells us in his website and book how to optimize our overall health. He identifies several common diet and supplement deficiencies linked to heart health in general and to A-Fib specifically. A-Fib Support Volunteers and the new thought/prayer group offer larger healing community links.
If you worry about salt risk-benefit, you may want to check the website www.selinanaturally.com. They say Celtic Sea Salt is more nutritious than common sodium table salt products, because it is not highly processed and contains vital trace mineral nutrients good for the body.
My Call to Action to A-Fib Sufferers, Family and Friends
1. Take this diagnosis as a blessed chance to look in the mirror, face yourself as honestly as you can and deal with whatever area of your life needs realigning, pruning and growth beyond any specific A-Fib CURE. Enhance your assets, limit your liabilities. Seek and find your Optimal Overall Health.
2. Tip: Check your stress level. Whenever chaos attacks: Learn to slow your heart rate and go to coherence with a couple of deep breaths and then slow regular breathing while you recall favorite people, things, places. There are self-tests to self-diagnose stress. DSS’s website has a neat tool to use. Massage and reflexology give good touching miracles to ease muscle tension. I use the massage feature in my TempurPedic bed (http://www.TempurPedic.com) which also allows me to raise my feet for circulation support.
3. Truth: We live in a litigious society today in the United States of America. Doctors practice defensive medicine. You must practice defensive patienting. Be fully informed. Your medical partners are. Get full records of everything, as full as your primary care doctor and insurance carrier always get. Keep your own full records (write as full a log as you can note and remember all the way). Know your rights. Assert your rights. Be strong, brave. Stand tall. If you live in one of the 30 states in the United States of America with so-called Tort Reform, know that even if you believe you are a victim of medical malpractice or wrongful death, you probably will not be able to find or afford a competent attorney advocate/champion to fight for you: Bottom line, you are pretty much on your own to survive and thrive!
For all professional caregivers: check credentials and licenses, education and experience. Ask about success record, complications, limitations, expected outcomes for your type of case. If meds are prescribed, ask about effects, ingredients, side effects, interactions. Blind trust is not acceptable. Living or dying may rest on one choice.
4. Daily. Apply the Golden Rule and the Serenity Prayer for your Gold Standard of living Ideals. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow is not yet. Now is the hour to be present in every decision and action.
5. I cheer for you, dear friend! I see you healed, cured, perfect, whole and complete!
Contact me for specific questions or details. Email: rosevernier2(at)hotmail.com
Rose’s Update September, 2013
After three years, all is well. I remain A-Fib-Free. I only take one scary prescription drug. I am heartened by my precious heart’s wonderful, perfect, normal sinus rhythm.
I am happy Lisinopril seems to keep my heart enlargement condition status quo; however, I am unhappy on re-reading the pharmacy information sheet that this drug lowers resistance to infection and that seniors may be more sensitive. I pray for a miracle rescue, folks, to find a less-risky alternative.
My wellness quest is for optimal health. I continue seeking. My digestion is helped by prune juice and lemon juice which are good natural digestive regulators if one gets senior or med constipation..
A 2013 miracle is my joining a Yoga Class for Older Women, Vinyasa, Hatha, Slow-Flow, Gentle Yoga. There are a multitude of yoga classes. This one fits me perfectly. I learn breathing, moving, meditation practices proven by rigorous scientific research and the latest brain-neuroscience-central nervous system hard evidence that Yoga helps anti-aging, healing, and cures physiological conditions.
Try just one tiny self-healing breathing example: 1. inhale. 2. hold. 3. exhale twice as long. This little exercise is calming, the “rest and digest” counterbalance to the chronic stress “fight or flight” Type A hyper-state most of us have become unwittingly addicted to in this modern world. To learn more, go to the website of Kripalu Yoga Center and Institute for Extraordinary Living (IEL; I love that name: “extraordinary”), the best or one of the best (best practices, Gold Standard Certifications, Community Outreach and rigorous research) in the USA, http://www.kripalu.org. View free in-home demonstration class videos for a good example of yoga healing medicine.
FYI for serious undue-stress-busting work: One more PTSD or disaster trauma treatment choice: Acupuncture. “Ear” acupuncture; the formal name is “NADA Protocol” (National Acupuncture Detox Association). Don’t need a lot of talk, just a name. Miracle healing cures pain without drugs and prevents tragic physiological breakdowns from untreated brain scars.
Tips in closing: Slow down to power up. Incorporate a few simple good breathing and moving steps into daily regimens. Focus with a steady gaze on an object–hold. In other words, counterbalance multi-tasking, “monkey-mindedness”; bust negative stress every chance you can. Yes, continue working on unconditional love, forgiving, thanking, praising, blessing YOURSELF and all God’s other little CHILDREN.
Thanks, best regards, CHEERS FOR YOUR CURE!
Last updated: Sunday, November 30, 2014