“There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.” ― Richard Bach, Illusions
“Are you that guy? Are you? ‘Cause if you are, then you can solve the riddle of your heart..” ― Nick Fury to Tony Stark, Iron Man 2
Welcome to davidfitzpatrickcoach.com, the home of AFib Health, Wellness and Fitness Coaching. If you have found your way here, chances are either you or someone you care about has Atrial Fibrillation, quite often referred to as AFib. I am here to reassure you that it is possible to have a dramatic impact on the quality of your life with AFib.
You and I are not alone, as it is estimated that between 3.0 – 6.0 million Americans and more than 33 million people around the world have AFib. We are all part of an ever increasing medical subset of society. I would also reassure you that you are not alone in wanting to control and manage your AFib… to regain your health, vitality and energy in the face of a condition that saps your energy and strength, makes it difficult to sleep, is depressing, demoralizing and draining.
I am here to help you realize that you can do amazing things for yourself and achieve a high level of control over your AFib, its symptoms, its health consequences. I’m confident that the program I created for myself can work for you, because the transformation I have undergone still humbles me, as does the healing power of our bodies and minds. If you are willing to do the work to change your future, you will not only be improving the quality of your own life, but that of your family and loved ones as well.
I know… I have done it, and I am filled with gratitude everyday for the quality of my life.
It is not, however, a magic cure… what I have done has taken more than 4 years of relentless lifestyle, dietary, nutritional and fitness changes, rigorous honesty and a lot of effort in developing my self-awareness about my body, mind, attitudes, etc.
About four and a half (4-1/2) years ago I was diagnosed with severe chronic stress induced cardiac arrhythmia and atrial fibrillation. My physical, mental and emotional health was awful across the board. At the time of diagnosis I was miserable beyond belief. As near as I can figure, I had been symptomatic with AFib for at least two years before being diagnosed, and suffered from chronic adrenal fatigue prior to that.
I would tell myself that I was just getting older, not handling stress as well as I used to (oddly enough, that WAS true) and that everyone with a high pressure job had stress / anxiety attacks and an erratic heart beat on Sunday evenings. Surely it wasn’t just me. (It’s sad what we can convince ourselves of when we don’t want to confront the truth…).
When I was diagnosed I had an Ejection Fraction (EF) of 25. My cardiologist at the time told me they start talking about heart transplants when your Ejection Fraction drops to around 20, and that no, it wasn’t likely to get much better. A Holter Monitor confirmed that my average heart rate was around 132 beats per minute, with spikes to nearly 200 beats per minute. That clearly was not good news either, and my doctors had my undivided attention.
I had a thorough and comprehensive battery of tests to determine what else was amiss. The good news was that the other tests showed I had clean arteries, good valves and that there appeared not to be any permanent physical damage to my heart, other than being weak and enlarged from the strain of a couple of years of AFib. After a TEE (trans esophageal echo-cardiogram) I went into the shop for a cardio version (or a hard reset in computer terms) to try to shock me back into normal sinus rhythm.
After the cardio version I was in normal sinus rhythm for about 5 days, and wow was that amazing. I didn’t realize how much my health and condition had degraded, or how bad I had actually been feeling until it was thrown into the sharp contrast of being back in normal sinus rhythm. After lapsing back into AFib five (5) days later, I was told I would absolutely need to get an cardiac ablation. This was deeply depressing, and after a few days of sadness, frustration and despair regarding my diagnosis and prognosis, I began to take ownership of my condition, which led me to take action.
Research was always one of my favorite tasks in high school, college and graduate school… and now I had the most important research project of my life. I began my research and read everything, and I mean everything I could get my hands on regarding Atrial Fibrillation. I read everything I could on the types of AFib, on the various ablation procedures and maze procedures. I read about the increased risk of stroke. I devoured medical journals and research articles on AFib, arrhythmias, ejection fraction and the success rates of ablation procedures.
At the end of the day, I could not justify having scar tissue (even well-intentioned scar tissue) burned into my heart in an attempt to disrupt the erratic timing signal that was causing the AFib. This was a personal choice, but one that I have found that I am not alone in making. I felt at a core level that I would not undergo an ablation procedure until I had tried to do what I could to deal with my AFib as naturally as possible.
So I refused to have the cardiac ablation. I asked if there were any anti-arrhythmic drugs I could take to control my A Fib without surgery so I could put off or postpone the need for an ablation. The answer was yes, and I was put on five (5) medications. And I became a zombie.
However, I was no longer symptomatic (all the time). And I felt like that now that things were at least under control that I could begin to solve the riddle of my heart.
I vowed that I would only take the medications as long as absolutely necessary, and do I all I could to have them removed from my regimen. I was opting to deal with this as naturally and as holistically as possible… I figured that if I could make some improvements in my health and put off the ablation for a few years (or forever), that it would just give everyone in the field time to continually improve the first time effectiveness of the procedure.
Or, that if I could just stay out of AFib long enough, that my heart would begin to recover.
Anyway, what happened since August of 2013 has been nothing short of a miracle, if you believe you can manifest miracles with consistent hard work, drive, purpose, positive attitude and unwavering belief.
This website and blog, my coaching services and support, and my book-in-the-works are here to let you know that you can have a dramatic impact on the quality of your life with AFib. You are not alone, and you can do amazing things for yourself, your future and your family if you are willing to work for it. My goal is to create a unique source of information and support for those of us that have been diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation… a space that I could not find when diagnosed, but feel compelled to hold for all of us now… to pay it forward for others.
I have had the blessing of having three (3) great doctors at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute in Pittsburgh who were instrumental in diagnosing my condition, presenting me with this challenge, telling me what I didn’t want to hear, challenging me to dig deep and to never give up, monitoring my progress and now championing what I have been able to accomplish. I am truly grateful to have had their support and expertise behind my efforts.
Legal Stuff: I make no claims to being a doctor, cardiologist or electrophysiologist. I make no claims that what I say will “cure” AFib. I do not feel that I have “cured” my own AFib. However, I do know that I no longer “suffer” from AFib. At all. I know that as a result of what I have done, the mindset I have maintained and the lifestyle I have created I am happier and healthier than I have been in the last 25 years. I am now actively engaged in a pretty high octane mind-body-fitness-nutrition oriented lifestyle. I know that I can workout in the morning, ski hard all day, workout again after skiing, and feel so good that I can’t wait to do it the following day. I know that I feel 25 years younger than I did four (4) years ago, and I think the next 25 years will be better than the last 25 years.
Welcome, and thank you for letting me support you on your healing journey!