“Know Thyself…” – Socrates & AFib/Healing
Got AFib? Let us Talk… is a continuing series of articles written by Paul W. Ennis, PPAHN detailing his individual experiences with Atrial Fibrillation/AFib. These articles are not to be considered 'Medical Advice', nor do they contain 'Medical Recommendations' for anyone.
In my first “ Got AFib? Let’s talk… ” post I shared information about my personal journey and the vastly influential teachings, knowledge, support and practical advice to be found in the book: “ The AFib Cure ” written by Dr. John D. Day, MD and Dr. T. Jared Bunch, MD (with excellent stylistic editing by Matthew D. LaPlante ).
Today, I would like to discuss several ways in which my life (more specifically, how I live my life) has been impacted during my AFib healing journey since early-2022 in hopes that you will learn, be inspired, receive comfort and support, as well.
Why Socrates and Why Now?
For thousands of years, scholars, linguists, philosophers, and academics have debated and dissected Socrates’ writings and teachings – perhaps most importantly these two words: “Know thyself…” I am here to tell you that my current state of normal sinus rhythm/NSR has not only been made possible by those two words – the process to achieve it has been fueled by the power that self-knowledge and self-awareness have provided to me.
These days there is an abundance of complicated treatment plans, diets, drug protocols, catheter ablation strategies, and cardiac surgical regimens bantered about within the social media landscape related to AFib (and many other types of illnesses and medical maladies). Truth to tell, my most recent writings related to the elimination of the supraventricular arrhythmia known as atrial fibrillation/AFib from my life have been influenced by both the ‘K.I.S.S. Principle’ (Keep It Simple Sweetheart), as well as Socrates’ direct admonition to “Know thyself…”
What Causes AFib?
As you are likely aware, AFib is not singularly caused by a bacterium, a viral organism, an injury/accident, or one easily identifiable causative agent.
In answer to this basic question – How do you get atrial fibrillation? – we learn the following from “The AFib Cure”:
“…There are a lot of possible substrate causes—some of which you can control and some of which you cannot.” – Dr. John D. Day and Dr. T. Jared Bunch
Here is a partial list of the most commonly known causes of AFib – taken again from the pages of “The AFib Cure”:
1. You Inherited the Wrong Gene
2. You Have Another Heart Problem
3. You’ve Got a Few Years Under Your Belt
4. Your Blood Pressure Is Too High
5. It’s One of the Medications You Are On
6. The Amount of Exercise You’re Getting Is Out of Balance with Your Body’s Needs
7. Your Metabolism Is Out of Sync
8. You’re Eating Too Much Sugar and Too Many Processed Carbohydrates
9. Your Electrolytes Are Out of Balance
10. Your Vitamin D or Thyroid Hormone Levels Are Out of Whack
11. You’re Relying Too Much on Energy Drinks or Alcohol
12. Your Sleep Is Off
13. You’re Too Stressed
14. You’re a Smoker or Live in a Polluted City
The Most Important Three-Letter Word – YOU!
Yes, there are 14+ inter-related substrate causes of AFib that have been studied and documented by AFib specialists around the world over the past 50+ years.
Clearly, AFib is induced by the interaction of a diverse set of underlying biological, metabolic, and lifestyle-related conditions that are further activated by ‘triggers’ and ‘situations’ as varied as there are women and men who suffer from this heart arrythmia.
Yet, while everyone manifests quite similar symptoms when first diagnosed with atrial fibrillation/AFib – all of us have arrived at that diagnosis (each in our own unique ways) due to the well documented interplay of clearly defined substrate causes, triggers, and lifestyle-related stimuli.
As to the simplicity and profound importance of ‘knowing thyself,’ if you look for the common denominator within each of the fourteen known causes of AFib listed above you will see one enduring and consistent constant – YOU!
Thus, “Know thyself…,” as an attitude, a life strategy, and a daily calendar entry item becomes an important and integral attribute for you to adopt as your personal AFib healing adventure unfolds.
Fill Your AFib Healing Tool Bag
I have learned through direct experience that AFib cannot be engaged with in a solitary manner — either entirely by yourself, or on your own with an Internet-based DIY-formatted strategy.
With that said, your doctors through their best solitary efforts will not be able to fix you, as well (in the same manner that you cannot simply fix yourself — by yourself).
Successful AFib healing work is the ultimate ‘team sport’ – blending the best and brightest of the medical community’s knowledge and experience with your own personal engagement and advocacy efforts.
You will want a myriad of tools to be available in your AFib healing tool bag, which will require you to track, monitor and engage with them – in order to learn about yourself, your body, your biometrics, your AFib triggers, and more.
In combination with your doctor’s lab, imaging, testing and likely surgical protocols you must shift your focus from ‘not knowing’ (for whatever good reasons you might concoct) to ‘really knowing’ as intimately and honestly as you can – who you are and why you are like you are.
Knowing thyself allows you to understand how you got to where you are and how you can then use the newly found knowledge you will acquire to get yourself back to where you want to be – living as close to an AFib FREE life as possible.
The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step
Here are three questions for you to consider – including my thoughts in response to each:
1. Is it a difficult and complicated process to possibly eliminate AFib from your life?
I’m here to tell you that it can be, yet clearly, if left unattended, AFib’s eventual poor health outcomes, heart failure symptoms, and ability to severely diminish your capacity to enjoy life on a day-to-day basis – provide plenty of motivation for you to put-out the extra efforts you will have to expend.
2. Is it realistic to consider that a team of doctors and medical specialists will be able to assist you in possibly ‘curing’ yourself of AFib?
My personal experience has been that without an excellent team of cardiologists, electrophysiologists, cardiac surgeons, and primary care physicians working together on my behalf I would not be here telling you these parts of my life story – full stop.
3. Are there things you can do to take back what you may have lost to AFib at this point in your life?
Once I realized that my heart was failing and that my life was clearly in danger of being cut short – engaging fully with the process and the professionals I needed to be working with were the most empowering ‘things’ I could have ever wanted to be doing – for whatever length of time it might take.
Early on, I could sense that my AFib healing journey was going to be a long and complicated one.
To this day, simply placing one foot in front of the other on my path has been the best way for me to navigate through the highs and the lows I have encountered.
“The AFib Cure”
I have unabashedly married myself, these writings, my teachings, and my admonitions to the excellent advice and counsel published by Dr. Day and Dr. Bunch in their amazing book, “The AFib Cure”.
“Know thyself…” is an adaptive strategy, an outlook, a way of living your life that dovetails perfectly with the ideas, concepts, solutions, and healing power contained within the pages of “The AFib Cure”.
Are there other books you could and should be reading?
My beliefs and direct experiences are that reading “The AFib Cure” is an excellent way for anyone dealing with AFib to start learning, understanding, and planning how they are going to recover their life, their heart health, and their longevity.
What is stopping you from reading it (if you have not done so to date) may be the best first question you ask of yourself – as your journey towards knowing thyself better begins to unfold.
Let’s Wrap it up for Now (again):
By following the lifestyle and dietary modification guidelines recommended in “The AFib Cure” and by having highly sophisticated surgical ablation work done on my heart muscle I have been able to maintain normal sinus rhythm/NSR since early-September of 2022, which has allowed me to fully re-gain my heart health and functionality, as well.
Who could ask for anything more?
This does not guarantee that you will be able to do the same thing(s) in your life in relation to whatever degree you may be experiencing AFib and/or related heart arrythmias.
However, it does guarantee:
1. We can have an open and inspiring conversation/dialog about exactly what AFib is all about — sans the myths and faulty consensus opinions;
2. That you have AFib care plan alternatives to work with if you choose to engage with them and know thyself as fully as can be done;
3. That simply 'monitoring' your AFib symptoms and the negative outcomes engendered upon your heart's health — is not the only choice, nor path you must follow.
The direct 'call to action' I am following is: "Got AFib? Let's Talk..."
Without further ado, I will look forward to your thoughts and comments in reply.
Stay safe and strong.
— Paul W. Ennis, PPAHN
((( Got AFib? Let us Talk… is a continuing series of articles written by Paul W. Ennis, PPAHN detailing his individual experiences with Atrial Fibrillation/AFib. These articles are not to be considered 'Medical Advice', nor do they contain 'Medical Recommendations' for anyone. If you are dealing with AFib you need to be under the care and guidance of a medical professional — perhaps even several of them. AFib is not a condition to deal with on your own, and/or to be taken lightly. )))
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