High Anxiety

by Debra Keipp, February 25, 2015

The Gualala Community Center hosts Pay-N-Take, a second-hand store open on the first Saturday morning of every month, for almost everything recyclable, from fine china to table saws. I volunteered there for 14 years in the electronics and furniture department. When my little dachshund, Rosebud, was five years old, I took her to work with me one day. A social pup of only eleven pounds, she hopped out of the car, anxious to see her dog-lovin' friends. As we arrived, one of the octogenarian sorters at the donation desk opened a box of ancient, donated Christmas decorations. They were packed in green rat poison – Warfarin — to prevent mice infestation. I was distracted, when as dachsies do, Rosebud drifted off to follow her strong nose. About ten minutes later, one of the men said to me, “Is that your dog eating rat poison from the trash can with a hole in the bottom?”

The cluelessness of proper disposal of toxic substances, a chronic struggle with the volunteers at Pay-N-Take, the old man had thoughtlessly dumped the rat poison in a trash can instead of sending it to Haz-Mat. Indeed, the trash can had a hole in it, and the floor was covered with granulated rat poison. Rosebud looked up at me with a wide doggie smile on her face as she stood at the base of the 50 gallon trash can several yards away, gobbling up the scattered Warfarin as if it was kibble.

Warfarin makes animals bleed to death when their blood won't clot. She saw me coming at her with that look of alarm, and started gacking up the Warfarin in even faster gulps before I pulled her off it. I guess the manufacturer makes it tasty, too. Prior to that, I had no real experience with rat poison. I refused to introduce it in the food chain because, if a healthy animal eats an animal who's just eaten rat poison, they both die. A good friend lost a lifelong pet owl that way; the owl was munchin' on poisoned mice. Rosebud lived because we caught it immediately, even though she had to take the prescribed Vitamin K for 60 instead of 30 days in order to repair her blood clotting ability.

My dad was schizoid about rules. He sprayed thousands of gallons of DDT and pesticides from Iowa to Texas, but wouldn't use rat poison. Dad also had a theory that more cats beget more mice – it's a cycle. So we only had one independent cat, and she hung around outside the main farmhouse when not wandering. During grain harvest, dad would often pour half of his freshly opened Coca-Cola into a “water dish” for barn rodents. Rodents can't burp or fart. They died from the carbonation. A few bull snakes always arrived in the baled hay, and they were our mouse eaters. Every time Dad found a bull snake, he'd throw it up in the haymow. We knew we had a healthy feed bin as long as there were snake skins in the haymow.

Now in my 50's, I found myself ingesting Warfarin for a diagnosis of atrial ventricular fibrillation. Although it's only a 4 mil pill a day, they say it's to thin my blood so I don't have a stroke. Tired of the five drugs they had me on for my damaged heart, enough time has progressed to investigate and implement better health options.

On the fluke advice of my electrician, I gave up my prescription-writing cardiologist for one who could perform surgery to prevent the fibrilation from happening and return my heart to normal sinus rhythm. It worked. Or I should say, most of the time it works. A marked improvement, as they say. I have rotten circulation from a lifetime trying to live with the complications of having had both childhood rheumatic and scarlet fevers, but I work with that through effective alternatives such as acupuncture, and herbs like hawthorn and milk thistle.

The A-fib Maze procedure is supposed to give me another ten years. I can at least walk across the yard now without running out of breath. The Maze procedure cuts through the scar tissue caused by childhood fevers, which surrounds the exterior of the heart, obstructing the electrical circuitry – the timing of the heart.

I was completely blind-sided by the affects of my childhood “fevers”. And the heart problem didn't hit me until after cessation of menstruation at age 51, as it goes. (Many heart attacks and heart failures occur after the age of 50 when the majority of humans cease producing hormones – especially women.) I remember as a child being kept in a dark room until I recuperated from weeks of fever. So far doctors have noticed no corneal damage to my eyes, another hallmark of the disease.

Recently I received a message from a friend who's had a bit of trouble with anxiety attacks. She quit smoking pot about five years ago, and that essentially took care of her accelerated heart problem. Just recently, however, her anxiety raised its ugly head again, but she's still not smoking pot, so she went to urgent care to try and see if her heart was causing the anxiety.

Anxiety attacks are a common complaint of women and many men, and could be caused by varieties of emotional and physical (not to mention all the speedy drugs and energy drinks like Red Bull commonly used today) which make anxiety difficult to diagnose. I encourage anxiety sufferers to investigate more than just mood enhancers and/or depressants for their anxiety problems. If over 50, get your heart checked if you have a chronic non-productive cough, and trouble breathing on exertion – especially if you've had childhood fever diseases. Remember your cardiac genes. Of what genetic diseases did your ancestors die? Be pro-active in your healthcare and know these facts before age 50 if you don't like surprises. I say this as an experienced patient following selective advice. I am not a doctor.

I could quote you the stats on how many folks in the U.S. suffer from anxiety attacks and atrial fibrillation (A-fib) of the heart, or you could just judge for yourself by the number of afib commercials on television selling blood thinners. And my doctor tells me Coumadin is better than Warfarin, but there are a host of other expensive brand-named drugs made for the same diagnosis which will cost you over $200/month if not insured. As far as I can see, afib commercials on TV run neck and neck with sexual erectile dysfunction drugs for men. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of hearing on TV commercials about how many limp schvanzels there are in the world. Libido comes and goes in all of us – get used to it, and don't push the river.

When my friend said that her doc told her about the “pot anxiety” connection noticed by doctors treating users of some of the more extremely strong pot varietals in Northern California, she included a link for me to reference. The article, however, disappoints in that it is based primarily on young males: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/570583_6

It was determined that some suffer anxiety attacks from the use of pot, as marijuana often makes the heart beat faster and in irregular rhythm. Thus the paranoia? It can also slow the heart. Again, everyone is different. One of the apparent “problems” with the human body is that it is so adaptable. Once the heart gets used to beating in irregular rhythm, it adapts easily to that new rhythm, maintaining that irregularity, long-term. That's what makes any condition “chronic”, which is also the name of a famous strain of marijuana, I have to add.

Specifically, the article cited smoking marijuana as known to increase sinus rhythm in some humans, which is the opposite of my heart problem. (I'm pretty sure my sinus rhythm had gone missing since 2009.) Eating pot is another entire matter altogether, as it reaps separate results for most individuals when ingested orally through the blood after being eaten. I cannot eat pot, as I go into a coma-like snooze, awaking unmoved where I landed, 10 hours later, and I usually sleep rotisserie-style. If my heart had not suffered any morphological changes due to pediatric disease, it might be relevant. I might have been one of those people with high anxiety because I smoke pot. Like all food and drugs, not everyone reacts the same. I do know I can't downhill ski to save my soul when smoking marijuana. Everyone's limits are different. Some excel on the slopes while puffing.

I encourage female readers who suffer anxiety to find other good research articles conducted specifically on women. Be reminded that the link for the paper enclosed describes research mostly performed on a young male population, who seem to be available aplenty for pot research. Women and men handle their CO2 differently when breathing/inhaling. It's a complaint I've always had about the Lamaze breathing technique in childbirth. MISTER (Dr.) Lamaze came up with his theory that women should huff and puff speedily along the childbirth highway in short choppy spurts of breath to control their breathing. The doctor claimed that his breathing method expedited childbirth.

The problem with his theory is that: a) we are not always in control, and b) women and men do not handle their CO2 in the same manner, physiologically speaking, a fact probably unknown to Fernand Lamaze back in the 1940's. Curious, is the Wiki-link on Lamaze: [...Lamaze, is a prepared childbirth technique popularized in the 1940's by French obstetrician Dr. Fernand Lamaze based on his observations in the Soviet Union as an alternative to the use of medical intervention during childbirth. The goal of Lamaze is to increase a mother's confidence in her ability to give birth; classes help pregnant women understand how to cope with pain in ways that both facilitate labor and promote comfort, including focused breathing, movement and massage.]

Good for Lamaze, he set off an entire movement of avoiding c-sections by focusing the human breath and providing comfort to the mother without medical intervention. America enjoys an increase in home births as a result of his technique. However, I betcha Russian women had precious little for pain killers in the first place, and it's COLD on the tundra of the Soviet Union where it is described as “we don't live here; we survive here” in the coldest regions. I'm wondering if the pregnant Russian women observed by Lamaze were just breathing fast and choppy because they were freezing.

Many years ago I worked in the Pulmonary Medicine Department of a major medical center. Every year we'd have a new set of students learning respiratory therapy and sleep lab techniques as applied to the pediatric population. The department became famous for some of their newly developed stress test techniques. (One is known nationally as, “The Bruce”, after Dr. Bruce Nickerson, Pulmonologist.) I'll never forget the breakthrough year of research grants when we also had a couple of married couples – students – who agreed to go home, hook themselves up to the monitors, and have sex to determine what exactly their blood/oxygenation levels did during orgasm. From the results, the technicians determined that men huff and puff very fast in orgasm, and women breath deeply, or hold their breath, releasing it in deep long breaths, facilitating the female orgasm. I'm sure many people already know this.

The two sexes process CO2 entirely unlike one another as reflected in their sexual breathing patterns. Men almost hyperventilate, unknowingly duplicating the choppiness of the Lamaze breathing technique, experiencing a nearly out-of-body experience, a sort of over-oxygenated “shock”, in fact, which often makes their toes and fingers tingle and curl. Pregnant women, on the other hand, have to ground themselves, and be more present than ever before – dropping their energy to open the cervix to deliver. Long, deep, moaning breaths, dropping in octaves, seem to knock hours off any delivery. Screaming in the upper falsetto octaves, which is what many mothers want to do in delivery, does not help the baby come out. Childbirth is not an out of body experience – you have to be present to win.

There are many reasons why research must also be gender specific in marijuana inhalation research. Personally, I think Northern California needs a cutting edge marijuana research facility to study the healing affects of marijuana for all ages and diseases, and I think it should be located in a splendid place like Boonville. Boonville, with all its historical range-of-strange, could tolerate such a facility and meet it with legitimate style and aplomb, besides having all the willing subjects needed for some really high-minded progress. I might even volunteer my time.

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