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Decaying Sword - What to do?

Hello!  I recently decided to redo my aquascaping because the tank was
overrun with stem plants, and I've decided to redo the tank with rosette
plants only.  I had an amazon sword and an anubias nana from the old setup
that I kept, and threw out all the old cabomba and also a pygmy chain sword
that had overrun the tank.  The gravel was very dirty underneath the chain
sword and I vacuumed the gravel extensively.  I ended up leaving the sword
in a bucket of water overnight.  I have now realized that I violated the
rule of never moving swords if you want them to live.  A large portion of
the leaves are now all or mostly transparent, as they appear to have lost
all of their chlolorphyll.  The leaves appear to be slowing dying  off.  I
have two questions.

1) - I have some healthy leaves, probably about 1/3 of the remaining leaves
look fine.  Can I safely cut out all of the dead leaves and let the plant
recover?  Or would it be too stressful on the plant to lose ~2/3 of its
leaves all at once, causing it to die completely?  This is a very pretty
plant that I don't want to lose.

2) - I do 25% water changes about once every 2 weeks.  I check the water
chemistry right before the water change to check on things.  I normally have
low NO2, NO3 & NH4 levels.  On this last water change the NO3 level was out
of the range of the test strip, but definitely in the "stress" range.  I've
never had NO3 levels that high in my planted tank, and it's been set up for
about 6 months now.  Is it possible that the decaying plant matter could be
causing these high levels?  I haven't had any fish die, and I feed sparingly
so I don't think decaying food could be causing the problem.

Thanks very much for your help!